Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult centre to drive innovation in multi-billion pound market.
Compound semiconductors such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) are central to development of the 5G network, new high-efficiency LED lighting, power electronics for the next generation of electric vehicles and new imaging techniques for a variety of uses from security to health diagnostics, with the global market for compound semiconductors expected to be £125 billion by 2020.
The centre is backed by wafer maker IQE and Cardiff University who set up the £20m Compound Semiconductor Centre, which will form a key resource to the new Catapult. The partnership will help transform leading edge research at Cardiff University’s new Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) to be built on the University’s new £300m Innovation Campus.
The Catapult for semiconductors will be the 11th Catapult centre. Catapults already exist in:
- cell therapy
- high value manufacturing
- offshore renewable energy
- satellite applications
- transport systems
- future cities
- precision medicine
- medicine technologies
They are overseen by Innovate UK and join entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists with state-of-the-art facilities that allow them to create new products and services.
Blu Wireless Technology has been demonstrating its HYDRA gigabit modem technology in a chip at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona (see video below).
The baseband system IP for 60GHz wireless has been implemented in a 40nm CMOS chip that can be used for the ‘WiGig’ 802.11ad 60GHz version of wifi that is starting to get traction in laptops and talets. It can also be used for wireless Back Haul for LTE mobile networks and for other high speed networks such as Bristol is Open which formally launches tomorrow (as detailed in the January High Tech newsletter). Bristol startup BWT supplies a complete multi-Gigabit capable baseband processor with all the associated firmware so that customers can quickly build their own millimetre wave gigabit wireless modem chips.
“The successful validation and demonstration of our HYDRA Gigabit System IP represents a major milestone in Blu Wireless’s technology roadmap,” said Henry Nurser, Blu Wireless Technology CEO. “Customers looking to license HYDRA for their own millimetre wave products can now be confident in going to market with this class leading technology.”
HYDRA, developed in Bristol, is based on a unique and patented architecture, which combines software defined parallel processing functions. These are controlled using a MIPS microAptiv CPU with hardware accelerators for fixed communication functions. This allows customers to adapt and add value to wireless modem applications with unique algorithms for channel equalisation, modulation or beamforming – all programmable through the robust, industry standard software tools provided by Imagination Technologies for its MIPS CPUs. Imagination has two design centres in the region.
This collaboration with Imagination is vital, says Nurser to get the maximum performance and efficiency from the multiple MIPS CPUs in the design. “Blu Wireless has made excellent progress with their innovative HYDRA IP implementation on 40nm,” said Tony King-Smith, EVP of marketing at Imagination Technologies. “We’re impressed with the performance they have achieved, thanks in part to MIPS’ high-performance, power-efficient architecture for multi-core embedded designs, and our comprehensive MIPS tools. ”
Since late 2014 the lead HYDRA chip has been integrated with a 60 GHz phased array radio front-end to create Blu Wireless’s Lightning evaluation and development platform which are available now as well. The module integrates a full ‘OpenFlow’ SDN client which supports wireless mesh networking. It is currently being deployed as part of Bristol is Open to demonstrate gigabit rate wireless mesh networking for dynamic data backhaul applications.
The ‘Lightning’ module is integrated into a robust mechanical housing for deployment in outdoor applications and is available with a mounting kit for lamppost deployment.
Mark Barrett, CMO at Blu Wireless said: “The ‘Lightning’ module represents a total system solution for the next generation of flexible gigabit capable backhaul technologies. The unique combination of low profile 60 GHz phased array technology, gigabit modem and adaptive mesh networking using SDN ‘Openflow’ techniques will deliver lower TCO and scalable data delivery capabilities to service the increased data demand of mobile networks”
There is growing market traction for the Ensigma Series4 ‘Explorer’ radio processor unit (RPU) cores designed in Chepstow as more companies integrate 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 and other connectivity into their Systems-on-Chips (SoCs).
New customers for the Ensigma WiFi/Bluetooth combo IP cores from Imagination Technologies include Ineda, Toshiba, Toumaz and multiple fabless companies from Korea and China including Rockchip and others from around the world who will be announced publicly at a later time. Among the target applications are streaming media devices, tablets, wearables, IoT devices and standalone WiFi combo chips. The new Ensigma WiFi licensees join the growing Ensigma RPU customer base, which also includes Qualcomm, STMicroelectronics, S2-Tek, Frontier Silicon, Orca Systems and others.
“Moving forward, virtually every device will be connected,” said Martin Woodhead, EVP for Ensigma Communications at Imagination. “To address this, the Ensigma RPU offers the flexibility to design for a range of connectivity and broadcast standards using just one on-chip radio system, so customers can create one design for multiple markets and also have a built-in roadmap for emerging standards. With our end-to-end connectivity solutions including RF, baseband, firmware, software, support and certifications, Imagination is uniquely positioned to help customers address new market opportunities quickly and cost-effectively.”
Imagination has a graphics hardware and software design centre in Bristol as well as the radio design team in Chepstow. The company’s program of WiFi Alliance certifications ensures interoperability. Imagination has recently achieved WiFi Alliance certification for Miracast and Passpoint, adding to a growing list of certifications including WiFi CERTIFIED, WiFi Direct, WPA, WPA2, WMM and WiFi Protected Setup.
The Ensigma Series4 RPUs provide a unique universal and highly scalable solution for integrating global connectivity and broadcast communications capabilities into SoCs. By combining the latest software programmable radio techniques with a multi-processor architecture, a wide range of communications standards are fully supported. The flexible hardware architecture of Ensigma Series4 RPUs means that the engine can be easily scaled to address everything from the smallest most cost-sensitive embedded connected processors to the most advanced connected smart TVs and tablets targeting global markets.
Ensigma RPUs support all key standards for connectivity including 802.11a/b/g, 802.11n with up to 4×4 MIMO, 802.11ac with up to 2×2 MIMO, as well as Bluetooth. They also enable global TV products supporting DVB-T2, DVB-T, ISDB-T, ATSC, GB20600-2006 (CTTB), DVB-S2, DVB-S, ISDB-S, DVB-C, J.83B, ISDB-C; analogue TV; mobile TV including T-DMB, 1-Seg ISDB-T; and broadcast radio standards including DAB/DAB+, HD Radio, 3-seg ISDB-T, ISDB-Tmm and FM.
Bristol and Bath is providing £2m to boost silicon and high tech startups.
Twelve startups and small companies in the region have been awarded close to £2m ($3m) from the West of England Growth Fund, with Blu Wireless Technology awarded £1m for its 60GHz programmable IP development. The Growth Fund administers UK and European matched funds for the region and has already awarded £11.85m to SME companies.
All the companies are in the Bristol or Bath centres of the SETsquared incubator.
Bath businesses receiving funding include app developer neighbourly (£94k), Clean Energy (£27k), Citeab (£26k), Tivarri , Envolve Technologies (£132k) and CloudFind (£90k).
”I’m delighted that our companies have benefited from this investment by the West of England Growth Fund – the grants will now leverage additional multi-million pound private investments into these companies,” said Simon Bond, Centre Director of Bath SETsquared and the University of Bath Innovation Centre.
Members of the Bristol SETsquared Centre in receipt of awards are Digital TV Labs (£233k), Blue Speck Financial (£220k), AptCore (£80k), Nanoscope Services (£40k) and SecondSync (£100k).
“Bristol and Bath has some fantastic tech businesses – in software, internet technology, electronics, semiconductor, biotech and across all sorts of sectors. These awards will make a massive impact into jobs growth here – and SETsquared has a track record of businesses growing steadily without failing, so these are high-value, sustainable jobs,” said Nick Sturge, Bristol SETsquared Director.
Paul Wilson, chief executive of the West of England LEP, says: “Through this fund we have already invested around £14m, which has attracted more than £41 million of private sector investment into the local economy, creating or safeguarding over 1,500 jobs. High tech is a significant area of growth for us – we already compete internationally and our region is nurturing a future generation of high tech businesses.”
A SouthWest firm is taking delivery of a new 60GHz chipset for gigabit wireless links over several kilometres.
Infineon Technologies has started the production of its BGTx0 chipsets for wireless backhaul communication systems, shipping to Sub10 Systems in Newton Abbot.
The lead customer Sub10 Systems is currently qualifying BGT70 and BGT80 E-band transceivers for an FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) system. Mark Stevens, Chief Technology Officer at Sub10 Systems, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Infineon on integration of the BGT70 and BGT80 chipset into our newly developed E-band transceiver. We expect high performance and high reliability at the same time, therefore we have chosen the best solution in the market.” The targeted system supports a data rate of more than 1 Gbit/s with link distances of about 2.5 kilometers.
Infineon’s BGTx0 family simplifies system design and production logistics by replacing more than 10 discrete devices by a single device. Due to their low power consumption the single-chip high-integration transceivers also help to reduce operating expenses in high data rate millimeter wave infrastructures
The transceiver family provides a complete radio frequency (RF) front-end for wireless communication in 57-64 GHz, 71-76 GHz, or 81-86 GHz millimeter wave bands. Paired with a baseband/modem, the system solution requires less space, offers improved reliability and lower cost for the critical wireless backhaul links needed in mobile base stations that support LTE/4G networks.
“The wide bandwidth available in V- and E-band millimeter-wave frequencies supports the exploding usage of mobile data with great growth opportunities for Infineon. With our process technology and RF design leadership we offer exactly what the emerging small cell infrastructure requires: highly reliable and easy to use packaged millimeter-wave transceivers,” said Philipp von Schierstaedt, Vice President and General Manager of the Business Unit RF & Protection Devices at Infineon Technologies. “The great interest of customers shows that our BGTx0 family perfectly meets their requirements.”
Each mobile communication standard uses specific frequency bands to transport data. Current standards operate below 43 GHz, known as microwaves. As future standards – like latest LTE/4G – will require more capacity and higher data rates, public authorities have released V- and E-band using millimeter waves. Network operators are expected to invest heavily in small cell infrastructures in the years ahead in order to provide mobile phone users with high speed internet and full network coverage.
Engineering samples of BGTx0 transceivers are already available. Volume production is planned for spring 2014.
Bristol-based wireless startup Blu Wireless Technology has closed a $3.1 million (£2m) funding round to customise and productise its chip design for the next generation of high speed wireless connections.
The funding will allow the company to double in size to 30 staff, and complete the development of its HYDRA programmable baseband IP that supports both 802.11ad next generation WiFi (WiGig CERTIFIED) and 4G mobile network backhaul applications that use the 60GHz frequency band rather than today’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, giving much higher speed links.
The funding round was lead by Qi3 Accelerator, who represented a syndicate of over $1.5m (£1m) of London Business Angels private investors, including Wren Capital. A further $0.9 million (£0.6m) was invested by the Angel Co-Fund, several additional investors made up the remainder.
Blu Wireless’s baseband technology uses a programmable parallel processing architecture to efficiently support the complex modulation schemes required for emerging multi-gigabit wireless communication standards. The IP is currently optimised for chipsets used in both advanced WiFi and 4G small cell deployments, and can be simply scaled to support the anticipated future standards as they move to 20Gbps and beyond.
The firm is already working with several of the world’s leading chip and system companies in these markets, says CEO Henry Nurser with the same customers using the IP for both 802.11ad and for wireless backhaul. The IP will be sold under license agreement to chipset manufacturers that compete in, or want to enter, markets that exploit the unlicensed 60GHz frequency band.
“With the completion of this funding round, we will be executing our plan to become the leading supplier of baseband system IP to manufacturers in the 60GHz sector,” said Nurser.
“This is a very exciting sector and we are convinced Blu Wireless will be a global leader in 60GHz technology,” said Tim de Vere Green of London-based Qi3 who will also join the board. “We believe 60GHz applications in both consumer WiGig and telecoms backhaul are set for rapid growth, and Blu Wireless is already working with several of the world’s leading Semiconductor companies in these markets. The thorough due diligence we have conducted has given us great confidence in the team’s technical and management capabilities, as well as their deep knowledge of their target markets.”
Ubiquisys is a leading provider of intelligent 3G and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) small-cell (or femtocell) technologies that provides seamless connectivity across mobile networks for service providers and this marks one of the largest European exits in recent months. It follows Mindspeed’s acquisition of picoChip in Bath, NVIDIA’s acquisition of Icera Semiconductor in Bristol and General Dynamics’ acquisition of IP Wireless in Chippenham, all in the wireless sector.
“The acquisition doesn’t just provide Cisco with Ubiquisys’ small cell knowhow; it also gives Cisco experience in working with a broader set of mobile operators,” said Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst at market analyst Ovum. “Ubiquisys provides Cisco much greater market credibility when it comes to 3G and LTE small cells. Cisco will also benefit by having greater control over Ubiquisys’ product development cycle, freeing Cisco from having to rely on the development cycle of third-party partners like IP access.
“Cisco is no stranger to small cells, but that has been primarily through its carrier Wi-Fi efforts,” said Schoolar. “In the licensed spectrum small cell space Cisco has basically been reliant on its femtocell relationship with AT&T. Outside of its work with AT&T, Cisco’s licensed small cell experience has been hard to find. Ubiquisys on the other hand has over 50 customers (vendors and operators) that include Softbank (Japan), SFR (France), and Network Norway. Ubiquisys’ small cell experience greatly bolsters Cisco’s small cell position.
The acquisition of Ubiquisys complements Cisco’s mobility strategy along with the recent acquisitions of BroadHop and Intucell, reinforcing in-house research and development, such as service provider Wi-Fi and licensed radio. These technologies will tie together the mobility architecture that leverages the intelligence of the network from the wireless edge of the network into the wired core.
As carriers around the world increase cellular data capacity to serve the rapidly growing population of smartphone and tablet users, adding small cells is one of the most cost-effective ways to multiply data capacity and make better use of scarce spectrum assets. Ubiquisys’ indoor small cells expertise and its focus on intelligent software for licensed 3G and LTE spectrum, coupled with Cisco’s mobility portfolio and its Wi-Fi expertise, will enable a comprehensive small cell solution to service providers that supports the transition to next generation radio access networks.
The acquisition of Ubiquisys further reinforces Cisco’s commitment to service providers and strengthens Cisco’s mobility capabilities to continue to extend the intelligent mobile network.
Ubiquisys’ product portfolio and team will be integrated into its Small Cell Technology Group led by Partho Mishra.
Virtual antennas – using several antennas of equipment nearby – can improve the performance of wireless devices in some cases, say researchers at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Communications Research (CCR)
i-Med: How medical electronics will deliver patient power
Thursday, 24 March 2011 and Friday, 25 March 2011, Bath Ventures Innovation Centre, Broad Quay, Bath, BA1 1UD
Experts in medical electronic systems are gathering in Bath next week for the SiliconSouthWest iMed seminar. This looks at the increasingly important area of medical electronics and applications, particularly with the use of wireless networks. Speakers from the NHS, silicon and embedded systems companies and applications developers will explore the opportunities for developing the next generation of medical systems and their place in the healthcare ecosystem.
- Noel Hurley, Chief Operating Officer, Toumaz Technology
- Phil Evans, Director, Ocean Blue Software
- Tim Phipps, Cambridge Consultants
Plus healthcare expert panel led by Dr Nigel Harris, Director, Bath Institute of Medical Engineering
- Stephen Hope, Docobo
- Angus Donald, NHS Innovations South West
- David Rogers, Ex President and Chief Executive, Lucent EMEA
A chip and software from picoChip in Bath are being used for a new next generation small cell basestation developed by Airspan of the US.
The picoArray technology has been used to implement LTE and other wireless processing in Airspan’s new multi-standard ‘small cell’ basestation, the AirSynergy. This provides high-performance data capacity to densely populated urban hotspots for the next generation LTE phones and is easy to deploy in metropolitan areas on buildings, strand-mounted from utility poles or on lamp posts.
AirSynergy is designed for deployment at “non-telco” locations such as city centers and business districts. With a small size and embedded wireless backhaul/relay through Airspan’s iBridge system, AirSynergy is aimed at rapid and cost-effective deployment in sites where traditional base stations cannot deliver the capacity required.
“LTE carriers need to fill service gaps in their networks with small cell base stations, such as AirSynergy, to deliver the promised download speeds and capacity to their customers. Picochip is helping us to make this possible,” said Paul Senior, CTO, Airspan. “We needed a cost-effective solution with low power consumption and high RF performance; Picochip, as a leading technology supplier for small cells, was the obvious choice.”
Picochip recently also made the first announcement of end-to-end interoperability between an LTE femtocell and commercially available user equipment (UEs), in partnership with Wavesat and Continuous Computing.
“This year will see the femtocell market expand from its foundations in residential applications, to include metropolitan and rural deployment, in 3G and LTE,” said Nigel Toon, CEO of Picochip. “Airspan’s selection of Picochip for LTE is a strong validation of our leadership and a continuation of our long standing relationship. For LTE to deliver its potential, the network must be optimized around high performance small cells, with a dense deployment of cost-effective solutions like AirSynergy.”
- Airspan Air4G base station integrates WiMax and LTE connectivity into one device (slashgear.com)
- A Cell-Phone Tower for Your Pocket (technologyreview.com)
- SouthWest electronics firms shine in Barcelona (swinnovation.co.uk)
A chip and system developer in Chippenham is providing the technology for a new generation of mobile multimedia on the latest smartphones and tablet PCs from Samsung being shown at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.
IPWireless, which has over 100 engineers in the region, has teamed up with US company AmDocs to run various multimedia applications on the Samsung Galaxy S phone and Galaxy Tab tablet PC, which are both running the Android operating system.
The technology, called Integrated Mobile Broadcast (IMB), has been endorsed by the GSMA and means mobile operators can use dormant 3G spectrum by overlaying a highly economical content delivery network on top of their existing 3G network. IMB-enabled networks bypass increasingly congested and allow popular content and applications to be streamed simultaneously to an unlimited number of devices: approximately 40,000 short form videos, 44,000 full length music tracks, 1,700 TV shows, or over 100,000 video advertisements can be sent in a single day. However, it needs a new generation of technology to do this, and IPWireless is working with companies such as Amdocs and ST-Ericsson, which has chip design in Bristol, to develop the whole system. Meanwhile operators Vodafone in Newbury and Orange in Bristol and O2 in Slough are running trials of the technology which could allow video to be sent to phones and tablets more cost effectively.
The company has some good connections already – last month it launched a ‘dongle’ for the Apple iPhone and iPad to connect to such services. It also last year set up a research lab in Chippenham with Sony America.
“IMB has the potential to deliver the multimedia experience consumers want at an economic model that makes sense for operators,” said Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president of product and solutions marketing at Amdocs. “Amdocs and IPWireless bring advanced application features that enable service providers to move beyond Mobile TV and offer innovative and intelligent new broadcast services that will lead to an enhanced consumer experience.”
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (P7100) Dual-Core Android 3.0 Honeycomb Tablet (mydigitallife.info)
- Samsung announces slimmed down Galaxy S II smartphone and upsized Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet (gizmag.com)
- IP Wireless enlists ST-Ericsson to design in mobile TV (go.theregister.com)
- SouthWest electronics firms shine in Barcelona (swinnovation.co.uk)
Ubiquisys in Swindon is providing the technology behind 20 new femtocells at this year’s Mobile World Congress. The new femotcells – small 3G basestations that can be used in the home and to help improve coverage – include home units with integrated Wi-Fi and applications, units for the office that form self-organising networks (SON), and outdoor models that can bring coverage to rural areas via satellite and extra capacity in metropolitan environments.
They all use the Ubiquisys Femto-Engine system which allows hardware makers to produce many different designs based on the same software, and the technology is now deployed in volume by several mobile operators across the world, including SoftBank Mobile in Japan and by SFR in France.
“The key value in femtocells is their intelligence, not their miniaturisation. This intelligence, the ability to listen and make autonomous decisions in real-time, opens the door to a new generation of low-cost cells of all sizes that actively complement traditional macro networks,” said Chris Gilbert, CEO of Ubiquisys. “By encapsulating that intelligence in software, we have released a wave of innovation from leading device manufacturers as they work with operators on new femtocells for new environments. This is just the start of the proliferation of intelligent femtocell technology.”
Public Wireless in the US is demonstrating six outdoor small cell platforms with the Femto-engine, while Ubiquisys partner and investor SerComm has developed 15 distinct models, covering residential and integrated devices, enterprise, metro and rural. Femtocells developed by the two companies have already been commercially deployed in hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. The range includes 8-call standalone residential models, femtocells integrated into home gateways, USB clip-on femtocells and 16-call enterprise versions with extended range. Another box maker, Tecom in Taiwan, has shown the first model in its femtocell roadmap. The FT1020 residential femtocell supports eight individual calls and high speed data up to 14.4Mbit/s while using less than 5W of power.
- Ubiquisys announced the world’s first attocell [Boost your phone’s signal, laptop required] (intomobile.com)
- Nokia Siemens, Ubiquisys Join Forces on Femtocells (pcworld.com)
Deltenna in Chippenham is highlighted in the Computer Weekly roundup of UK firms making a splash at the global gathering of mobile phone companies in Barcelona, Mobile World Congress, later this month. The story at looks at what Deltenna is doing with a specialist antenna system for the home to boost reception and provide broadband WiFi access in rural areas.
But there are several others from the region: chip makers picoChip in Bath, Icera in Bristol and Nujira, which has a design centre in Bath, are also at the show showing the latest mobile phone technology, while equipment makers Ubiquisys of Swindon and AceAxis, with a radio design centre in Bristol, are also present at the show and chip and system maker IPWireless is also driving mobile phone technology forward from Chippenham with deals with Ericsson and Apple.
- Icera announces world’s smallest HSPA+ platform for Android smartphones (intomobile.com)
- Mobile World Congress 2011 in numbers (intomobile.com)
- Ubiquisys unveils Attocell: personal femtocell designed to work internationally, make dreams come true (engadget.com)
- Rural businesses offered 3G boosting device (v3.co.uk)