Power Scaling Mechanism for Low Power Wireless Receivers
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LOW power operation for wireless radio receivers has been gaining importance lately on account of the recent spurt of growth in the usage of ubiquitous embedded mobile devices. These devices are becoming relevant in all domains of human influence. In most cases battery life for these devices continue to be an us-age bottleneck as energy storage techniques have not kept pace with the growing demand of such mobile computing devices. Many applications of these radios have limitations on recharge cycle, i.e. the radio needs to last out of a battery for long duration. This will specially be true for sensor network applications and for im-plantable medical devices. The search for low power wireless receivers has become quite advanced with a plethora of techniques, ranging from circuit to architecture to system level approaches being formulated as part of standard design procedures. However the next level of optimization towards “Smart” receiver systems has been gaining credence and may prove to be the next challenge in receiver design and de-velopment. We aim to proceed further on this journey by proposing Power Scalable Wireless Receivers (PSRX) which have the capability to respond to instantaneous performance requirements to lower power even further. Traditionally low power receivers were designed for worst-case input conditions, namely low signal and high interference, leading to large dynamic range of operation which directly im-pacts the power consumption. We propose to take into account the variation in performance required out of the receiver, under varying Signal and Interference conditions, to trade-off power. We have analyzed, designed and implemented a Power Scalable Receiver tar-geted towards low data-rate receivers which can work for Zigbee or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) type standards. Each block of such a receiver system was evaluated for performance-power trade-offs leading to identification of tuning/control knobs at the circuit architecture level of the receiver blocks. Then we developed an usage algorithm for finding power optimal operational settings for the tuning knobs, while guaranteeing receiver reception performance in terms of Bit-Error-Rate (BER). We have proposed and demonstrated a novel signal measurement system to gen-erate digitized estimates of signal and interference strength in the received signal, called Received Signal Quality Indicator (RSQI). We achieve a RSQI average energy consumption of 8.1nJ with a peak energy consumption of 9.4nJ which is quite low compared to the packet reception energy consumption for low power receivers, and will be substantially lower than the energy savings which will be achieved from a power scalable receiver employing a RSQI. The full PSRX system was fabricated in UMC 130nm RF-CMOS process to test out our concepts and to formally quantify the power savings achieved by following the design methodology. The test chip occupied an area of 2.7mm2 with a peak power consumption of 5.5mW for the receiver chain and 18mW for the complete PSRX. We were able to meet the receiver performance requirements for Zigbee standard and achieved about 5X power savings for the range of input condition variations.
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