We recently got a tour of Qorvo‘s new RF front-end module from Qorvo’as Bror Peterson and Keysight’s Osamu Kusanois. The module is said to be the world’s first 39-GHz front-end that integrates a power amp, low-noise amp, and switch in one small package. The module uses gallium nitride technology to get a high power density. The PA handles 2 W and has a low sub-4.2 dB noise figure, which makes it a candidate for 5G millimeter-wave phased-array projects.
Peterson says Keysight was involved with the development of the module because the transmit and receive ports have a common antenna port, and there was a need for a special instrumentation setup that could ease the testing of the chip as it went into high volume production. Keysight’s Kusano took us through a test of the chip.
The instrumentation is dedicated to beamformer asset testing and can measure multi-port device like the Qorvo chip. There is a built-in switch that can be actuated to switch the connections on a given port. This feature eliminates the need for physically switching connections for transmit and receive testing. Also, the noise figure receiver is only available at port two. The test setup allows operators to effectively flip the direction of the measurement so they needn’t disconnect every time they need to make this kind of device measurement.
This switching is especially useful in 5G scenarios that will have multiple devices. The test set can be expanded for multi-port devices, up to one-by-eight.