News | May 18, 1999

Motorola SPS Partners With ISP to Deliver SiGe Components

By: Robert Keenan, Managing Editor

The Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS) of Motorola (Phoenix, AZ) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Frankfurt, Germany-based Institute of Semiconductor Physics (ISP). Under the pact, the two organizations will develop a 0.18-µm/0.25-µm wireless platform based on Motorola's complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technologies and ISP's proprietary silicon germanium carbon (SiGeC) technology.

Chief technical officer Barry Johnson says Motorola SPS has spent several months working with ISP and evaluating its SiGeC process technology. According to Johnson, Motorola feels this process technology will integrate well with its current CMOS technology and will allow the chip manufacturer to develop good components for emerging 5.6 GHz wireless applications, such as third generation (3G) designs.

RF/IF integration
As part of the agreement, Motorola will establish a technology center in Frankfurt, Germany in order to work closely with ISP. The European technology center will conduct R&D and will act as the European headquarters for Motorola's Embedded Systems Technology Laboratories.

The European technology center will work on developing a SiGe bipolar CMOS (BiCMOS) process. Once complete, Johnson says this process could lead to higher levels of integration in wireless designs, such as mobile handsets.

According to Johnson, the SiGe BiCMOS process will act as a heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) on a CMOS platform. By serving as an HBT on a CMOS process, the new BiCMOS technology will enable Motorola to combine portions of the RF/IF section with the baseband processor portion of a wireless product. By combing this functionality, Motorola feels it can reduce pin counts within a wireless product, and in turn, reduce the overall size of a system.

Benefits of SiGeC
Over the past few months, there has been a lot of talk about SiGe technology. To differentiate its technology from competitors such as IBM (Armonk, NY), ISP has combined carbon with its SiGe technology to develop a SiGeC process.

Johnson says the addition of carbon provides two benefits to employing SiGe technology in wireless applications. "First, the carbon helps in reducing the Lattice strain engineers get when they put a SiGe layer on a silicon substrate," Johnson says. In addition, he says the carbon technology reduces the dopant diffusion effects engineers encounter when they integrate modules into a CMOS or BiCMOS process.

Johnson says Motorola will initially develop RF/IF products using the SiGeC BiCMOS process. Specific products have not yet been announced.