The main idea of the DRAGON project is to research and use new design methodologies and architectural innovations, based on reconfigurability and state-of-the-art digital CMOS technology, in order to break the barriers imposed by the lack of scaling properties of analog components. With this concept, distinct reductions in cost, size and energy consumption for multi-standard cellular handsets can be achieved, while higher demands on data rate can be met.Data rates are increasing every day, therefore, the energy consumption per transmitted or received data bit has to be reduced in order to save energy and avoid thermal problems. Wireless data services will become an attractive low-cost alternative to be used in novel applications.
In the DRAGON project a design platform comprising multi-standard transceiver specifications and novel flexible architectures is developed. The number of required external components, like analog filters, are replaced by reconfigurable digital CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) circuitry; and critical building-blocks are implemented to demonstrate proof of concept, both of the architecture and design methodology. All critical building-blocks are fabricated, tested, and demonstrated in state-of-the-art CMOS technology. The project results are also being provided to standardisation bodies, allowing an alignment of requirements to technology limits.
The strategy is aimed at concurrently resolving a number of critical path issues, which currently act as impediments to the design and creation of future platforms. “Design Methods for Radio Architectures” are used as a lead example and work horse for the European design methodology “GOing Nanoscale”.
The issues have been embodied in the design of the five technical and one management work packages. Each work package is addressed by a team of specialists with advanced domain knowledge, which can be brought to bear on each of the technical core issues.
The development of DRAGON is partitioned in the following work packages:
- WP01 - "Requirements and standardisation" is responsible for the task of developing and maintaining a link-budget tool for the transceiver system. This will target highly innovative architectures and new ways of partitioning the typical block requirements, e.g. selectivity, linearity, noise or gain. The work package also monitors state-of-the-art technology and the standardisation work carried out in the 3GPP RAN4 group and feeds this information to the WPs.
- WP02 - "Low power concept and architecture" develops an efficient architecture and a concept fullfilling the specification for the LTE transceiver defined in WP01 activities.
- WP03 - "Innovative Miniturised Receiver Design" has the goal of developing a design plattform that first intends to merge the on-chip channelselect filter with the receive ADC to eliminate much of the circuit complexity.
- WP04 - "Smart transmitters and power amplifiers" is concerned with the design of the transmitter part of a transceiver. Also the design of the antenna-SMPA interface and the design of the digital modulators are taken into account during this WP.
- WP05 - "Proof of concept and verification" provides the logistic platform to access state-of-the-art nanometer CMOS design technology. Further the specification, which will be defined in WP01, has to be compared to the measurement results.
- WP06 - "Project Management and dissemination" aims at an effective operational management with regard to contractual, financial, legal, technical, administrative and ethical management issues and focuses on a coordinated management of dissemination and exploitation for the DRAGON project.
The performance offered by wireless standards has improved steadily over the last decades. There are two main reasons:
- Society today increasingly asks for wireless systems since they have the potential to enhance comfort and pleasure. More importantly even, wireless technologies can help to support independent living and save costs in health care for an ageing society.
- Industrial progress relies on continued growth of wireless capacity. Not only more and more people count on mobile broadband services in their professional activities, also the number of objects connected by wireless interfaces is dramatically increasing.
Objective 1 – Miniaturisation of Complex Radio Systems
Future terminals will need radios that support multiple standards and data rates up to 1 Gbit/s. In order to avoid a serious impact on cost, size and weight of the terminal due to increasing numbers of radios and their capacity, miniaturzation through design of innovative reconfigurable architectures in nanoscale technologies is crucial.Future terminals will need radios that support multiple standards and data rates up to 1 Gbit/s.
Objective 2 – Design Methodologies for Energy Efficient Solutions for High Performance Systems
The new, innovative designs should be capable of reaching the same level of average power consumption as dedicated solutions. DRAGON aims at obtaining a 50% energy reduction compared to classical systems.
Objective 3 – Multi-Functional / Multi-Purpose Devices
The proposed multi-functional designs in DRAGON should allow paying off non-recurring engineering costs (NRE) in chip design by re-using the same system in a broad range of applications. Further, DRAGON aims at supporting more than two standards in one building block, which is currently the maximum number that can be achieved.
Objective 4 – Proof of Concept by Silicon Demonstrators
The design of innovative architectures in the most advanced commercial CMOS technologies should not only be used to illustrate and prove the DRAGON project results, but, more importantly, should give European companies the confidence that the disruptive design paths are ready for adoption, and convince them of their significant added value.