Next-generation Ka Band satellite transceivers

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EnSilica, a provider of custom ASIC design and supply services, has announced it is developing a single-chip Ka band transceiver IC for the European Space Agency.

The mmWave IC will form a key component of next-generation, low-cost hybrid automotive communication terminals – enabling vehicles to always be connected.

The IC is being developed as part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) project and the CASSIS project (Connected Automotive Satellite Service Integrated System), which is led by the UK Satellite Applications Catapult (UKSAC).

It has been estimated that over a quarter (27%) of automotive use cases will require satellite connectivity by 2025, and ubiquitous, high speed connectivity will not be possible through the 4G/5G cellular network alone (source CASSIS).

Operating at up to 31.5 GHz, the custom Ka band CMOS ASIC will form part of an affordable, consumer-scale communications module supporting a flat panel electronically steerable phased array antenna. The hybrid module will communicate with geostationary and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, 4G/5G infrastructure and Wi-Fi communications to deliver high capacity connectivity to cars, small vessels and aircraft.

Commenting Ian Lankshear, CEO at EnSilica said: “Ka band technologies are set to play an increasingly critical role in enabling the next-generation of low-cost satellite and 5G communications systems. EnSilica’s mmWave team’s expertise, coupled with the company’s automotive ASIC supply strategy, ideally position us to help our customers develop such ICs in CMOS and address this growing need.”

Above: How vehicles will be connected - Copyright The Satellite Applications Catapult, reproduced with permission

Paul Febvre, Chief Technology Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: “We are really excited that Ensilica have joined us to accelerate the development of a new class of satellite terminals to provide low-cost high-performance connectivity for the automotive sector. Ensilica bring the capability and expertise necessary to integrate with automotive systems and then scale-up the manufacturing to deliver products at the right price.”

First samples of the ASIC will be available for evaluation in Q2 2020.