CMOS RF Circuit Design

Course 206

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The surge in demand for high performance and low cost wireless circuits has accelerated the shift to CMOS RFIC technology. As future wireless radios continue to push the available bandwidth and shift to mm-wave range, RF CMOS is expected to remain the predominant technology. This 3-day course will cover in depth the practical aspects of CMOS RF design at both the circuit and device level. The course will begin by an overview of the CMOS transistor and passives from RF perspective, analyzing key concepts in modeling and noise behavior. An overview of various RF circuit blocks highlighting design architectures and circuit implementation tradeoffs will be provided. This will include selected topics in designing low noise amplifiers (LNAs), mixers, voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs) and power amplifiers (PAs). The course will provide insightful guidance in the circuit design process including transistor sizing, layout effects, parasitic reduction techniques and tradeoffs between various circuit topologies. The focus throughout this course will be on providing practical circuit design and implementation techniques utilizing numerous design examples.

Learning objectives

Upon completing the course you will be able to:

  • Learn and utilize accurate RF CMOS transistor and passive models
  • Understand various parasitic effects due to layout and substrate
  • Arrive at an in-depth understanding of CMOS noise sources and account for them in various circuits
  • Design, at the basic level, CMOS RF LNAs, mixers, VCOs and Pas
  • Understand the tradeoffs in circuit architectures and how they translate to RF systems parameters (e.g. noise figure, IIP3, phase noise, etc.)
  • Design matching elements and utilize them in various circuit blocks
  • Use simple back-of-the-envelope calculations to predict RF circuits’ performance
  • Analyze the impact of CMOS technology scaling on various circuit blocks

Target Audience

RFIC and analog baseband design engineers, researchers and graduate students who are interested in designing CMOS RF circuits. In addition, RFIC engineers who specialize in GaAs and other III-V technologies will also find this course useful in learning how to transition to CMOS technology. Technical managers will also learn current technology limitations and future technology trends.


Day 1

 • CMOS technology overview (applications and technology trends) • Analog device models including long and short channel effects • RF CMOS model for high frequency operations (gate and channel resistance and non-quasi static effects) • Modeling RF passives (inductors, capacitors and resistors) • Impedance Transformation & Matching Networks • CMOS Noise Models and minimum noise figure

Day 2

 • Low noise amplifier design (input matching, gain and linearity analysis, noise figure, stability analysis, narrowband vs. wideband design, LNA topologies, design examples) • Mixer design (principle of operation, passive vs. active mixers, Gilbert cell mixers, linearity and noise analysis , port isolation, image reject mixers)

Day 3

 • Voltage controlled oscillators (Figures of merit, oscillation conditions, phase noise, types of oscillator topologies; ring oscillator, Colpitt oscillator, -gm oscillator, design examples) • Power amplifiers (Figures of merit; efficiency and linearity, impedance matching, linear vs. non linear classes of operation, design examples)