ALCIOM Cuts Design Time in Half for Complex Wideband RF Downconverter Subsystem
ALCIOM is a consulting and design company specializing in innovative mixed-signal projects, from RF and microwave to high-speed electronics, signal processing, sensors, optoelectronics, and ultra-low-power devices. Based in Chaville, France, ALCIOM was founded in 2003 and has more than 100 customers ranging from startups to worldwide telecom companies and research organizations.
ALCIOM was challenged to develop a wideband RF downconverter subsystem for a custom measurement instrument with strict instrumentation-grade specifications. In particular, the downconverter was required to cover a wide bandwidth from 700MHz up to 6GHz, with stringent phase and amplitude stability constraints.
Due to these constraints, the design required a custom assembly of several frequency translations, filtering, and amplifying stages (with no less than three intermediate frequencies). The design team kicked off the project by defining the overall system architecture, followed by modeling the system performances, focusing in particular on spurious rejection and frequency-response flatness. The team finished with circuit-level design and simulation of the custom microstrip filters and couplers used within the downconverter subsystem.
Cadence® AWR® Design Environment®, specifically Visual System Simulator™ (VSS) software, was the backbone design tool for this project. As a first step, VSS was used to create the high-level system diagram with close-to-ideal mixers, filters, and amplifiers. This then enabled the team to validate the selection of the intermediate frequencies and overall gain and noise figure budgets allocated to each stage, and finish with a specification for each of the subsystems.
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