The most critical issue holding back market development and growth of battery-based IoT solutions is the significant amount of power required by today’s “old-technology” radio architectures. Battery-based IoT products just don’t last long enough between recharging or battery changes to be acceptable – even to the “bleeding-edge” consumers. The underlying problem: Basic radio signal processing architectures used by products today are all based on a 25-year old RF technique known as IQ radio data representation. IQ (which stands for in-phase and quadrature – the way that the RF waveform data is represented inside the radio) analog-based RF architectures are used in all the popular Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave and most other popular protocol radios in the market today.
The current IQ radio signal processing architecture in use today by leading RF companies was developed decades ago — long before the need for low power, battery based, IoT applications were not even a remote possibility. While IQ radios work well, they are highly dependent on processing the RF signal using analog circuits. The impact of such a high dependence on this type of circuit is that analog circuits, as opposed to digital circuits, drain battery power as well as taking up a disproportionate share of the “expensive” chip die real-estate.
A New Digital Polar Radio Architecture
InnoPhase was founded on the premise of creating a totally new, extremely efficient and digitally-dominant radio architecture that would finally enable wireless solutions to take full advantage of the significant low power, size, integration and cost advantages that advanced semiconductor process technology bring to the market. Over the last several years a team of wireless solution researchers, RF experts, mathematicians, and semiconductor chip designers have been diligently working behind the scenes in stealth R&D centers located around the world (San Diego and Stockholm) developing an innovative technology that will change the way that popular wireless solutions process RF signals. They have now succeeded in moving semiconductor radio signal processing from a predominantly power-hungry analog solution into highly efficient, extremely low power digital circuits.
PolaRFusionTM Digital Radio Architecture
InnoPhase has coined the term “PolaRFusion” to describe this major advance in the way RF signals are processed in the radio. The key InnoPhase differentiator is how the RF waveform is encoded and decoded using polar coordinates, amplitude and phase, in place of traditional Cartesian/IQ coordinates, in-phase and quadrature, that are used in traditional analog-based radios.
To maximize energy efficiency, InnoPhase has developed a purpose-built, low power “polar coordinate processing” architecture with an optimized instruction set based on advanced nonlinear mathematics for manipulating these now digitally-represented polar coordinates. In addition, as the radio signal travels through the PolaRFusion transceiver it can now be accurately processed using software algorithms. Entire portions of the radio hardware that used to be dominated by analog processing have been moved into digital circuits. The unique and patented flexLNA (flexible low noise amplifier) and DPA (digital power amplifier) are also implemented in digital CMOS circuits and major portions of the RF signal is processed using flexible, programmable software algorithms.
Overall radio power reductions associated with using the digital PolaRFusion architecture are startling. For example, compared to the lowest power Wi-Fi wireless IQ architecture solutions in use in the market today, batteries in low power IoT applications last 2X to 8X longer. InnoPhase designed radios using the PolaRFusion architecture drastically reduces analog circuit power consumption by up to 65% compared to the lowest power IQ radios in use in the market today.
Another key advantage of the digital PolaRFusion architecture is that protocols are implemented not in hardware as in traditional IQ radios, but as software personalities. The same hardware that executes the Wi-Fi software-based protocol can dynamically switch personalities by loading a new software protocol module and becoming a BLE radio and then switch back to Wi-Fi all in a matter of microseconds based on the wireless communication demands.
The InnoPhase team has now fully developed and proven the PolaRFusion Architecture. With the new RF architecture solidly in place, the company is building a complete extreme low power wireless solution platform that takes full advantage of the new architecture with outstanding overall RF performance specifications and extremely low power consumption.
More detailed information regarding our product lineup will soon be released.
Radios Back on Moore’s Law
The InnoPhase Smart Digital Radio will enable a whole new industry – battery based IoT nodes that can have a data-rich, high speed cloud connection. This extreme low power RF technology will eliminate the need for gateway devices that connect edge-of-network devices to each other or the cloud. Now that InnoPhase has transitioned wireless solutions to the efficient world of digital circuits they will finally be able to take advantage of Moore’s law. Unlike traditional analog radios that have hit the power consumption reduction wall, InnoPhase products will continue to slide down the semiconductor power consumption and die size curve. It is projected that unlike old-tech analog radios in use today, that moving a single process node (e.g. 55nm to 28nm) will reduce the radio’s power consumption another 50%! Imagine as we move this technology to even smaller and smaller process nodes. The dream of a connected world through battery based IoT devices will now become a market reality.