Integrated, Dynamically Adaptive Supplies for Linear RF Power Amplifiers in Portable Applications

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Sahu, Biranchinath
Rincón-Mora, Gabriel A.
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Energy-efficient radio frequency (RF) power amplifiers (PAs) are critical and paramount to achieve longer battery life in state-of-the-art portable systems because they typically determine and dominate the power consumption of such devices. In this dissertation, a high-efficiency, linear RF PA with a dynamically adaptive supply and bias current control for code division multiple access (CDMA) and wideband CDMA (WCDMA) is conceived, simulated, and experimentally demonstrated with a discrete PCB-level design and in integrated circuit (IC) form. The PA efficiency is improved by dynamically adjusting both its supply voltage and bias current, there by minimizing its quiescent power dissipation. The PA supply voltage is derived from the battery by a noninverting, synchronous buck-boost switching regulator because of its flexible functionality and high efficiency. Adjusting the PA supply voltage and bias current by tracking the output power, instead of following the complete envelope in large baseband bandwidth wireless applications, is achieved by a converter with a lower switching frequency and consequently higher light-load efficiency, which translates to prolonged battery life. A discrete PCB-level prototype of the proposed system with 915 MHz center frequency, CDMA IS-95 signal having 27-dBm peak-output power resulted in more than four times improvement in the average efficiency compared to a fixed-supply class-AB PA while meeting the required performance specifications. In the IC solution fabricated in AMIs 0.5-micron CMOS process through MOSIS, a dual-mode, buck-boost converter with pulse-width modulation (PWM) control for high power and pulse-frequency modulation (PFM) for low power is designed and implemented to improve the PA efficiency during active and standby operation, respectively. The performance of the dynamically adaptive supply and bias control IC was validated by realizing a 25-dBm, 1.96 GHz center frequency, WCDMA PA over an input supply range of 1.4 4.2 V. The PA with dual-mode power supply and bias control IC showed an average-efficiency improvement of seven times compared to a fixed-supply class-AB PA, which translates to five times improvement in battery life assuming the PA is active for 2 % of the total time and in standby mode otherwise.
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