Imec Spin-off unveils 60 GHz phased array system with 256 antenna elements

Pharrowtech, a spin-off initiative from imec, demonstrated a prototype of a 60 GHz active phased array at the Telecom Infra Project Summit in London. This solution paves the way for telecom OEMs to dramatically increase range and field of view of backhaul nodes, access points and home units. It is built using low-cost, high-volume chip and antenna technologies. This marks an important step towards accelerated deployment of cost-effective high-speed internet solutions for rural, urban and suburban environments.

The Fiber-to-the-home roll-out has proven prohibitively costly and slow. Wireless high-speed connections, known as fixed wireless access, enabled by the Pharrowtech technology, can ensure fast and reliable deployment in a broad range of scenarios where fiber-to-the-home is not feasible. It eliminates the extremely high CAPEX of connecting individual premises by fiber. Leveraging the unlicensed 60 GHz band further reduces OPEX, resulting in a highly favorable total cost of ownership for telecom operators.

Imec Yole

The prototype’s modular design offers operators full flexibility to deploy in different neighborhood types having diverse building and vegetation densities while still meeting all regulatory requirements. The prototype’s long range and large field of view are achieved through 256 antenna elements driven by 128 power amplifiers. Its proprietary chips are fully realized in high-volume CMOS technology to ensure low cost and power consumption.

Pharrowtech is a spin-off initiative currently incubating at imec. Pharrowtech designs next-generation solutions for fixed-wireless access, wireless VR/AR and ultra-high capacity wireless links. It builds on more than 12 years of top-notch R&D performed at imec. Leveraging deep technical expertise in algorithm, chip and antenna design for millimeter-wave systems, it creates products with best-in-class performance, power and cost features.