Understand Radio Architectures

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

The fundamental operation of an RF front end is fairly straightforward: it detects and processes radio waves that have been transmitted with a specific known frequency or range of frequencies and known modulation format. The modulation carries the information of interest, be it voice, audio, data, or video. The receiver must be tuned to resonate w

Understand Radio Architectures
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ith the transmitted frequency or frequencies in order to detect them. Those received signals are then filtered from all surrounding signals and noise and amplified prior to a process known as demodulation, which removes the desired information from the radio waves that carried it. These three steps ”filtering, amplification and demodulation ”detail the overall process. But actual implementation of this process (i. e. , designing the physical RF receiver printed-circuit board (PCB) depends upon the type, complexity, and quantity of the data being transmitted. For example, designing an RF front end to handle a simple amplitude-modulated (AM) signal requires far less effort and hardware (and even software) than building an RF front end for the latest third-generation (3G) mobile telecommunications handset. Because of the enhanced performance of analog components due to IC process improvements and decreasing costs of more powerful digital-signal-processing (DSP) hardware and software functions, the ways that different RF front-end architectures are realized has changed over the years. Still, the basic requirements for an RF front end, such as the frequency range and type of carrier to be received, the RF link budget, and the power, performance, and size restrictions of the front-end design, remain relatively the same in spite of the differences in radio architectures. One of the basic RF receiver architectures for detecting a...

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