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What is RF Front end

This page describes basics of RF front end. It mentions RF front end manufacturers or vendors. The difference between RF front end and back end is also covered.

RF Front End

The figure-1 depicts typical components in a wireless transceiver unit. As shown it consists of two parts baseband and RF. The baseband part involves modem (modulator and demodulator). The RF part involves transmitter and PA (Power Amplifier) in the uplink and receiver and LNA (Low Noise Amplifier) in the downlink chain.

RF Front end mainly refers to LNA and PA modules used between antenna and RF transceiver. In few cases, entire RF part till baseband section is also considered as RF Front end. There are ICs available which house only LNA and PA functionalities. These ICs help in amplification of signal before transmission and after reception.

super heterodyne receiver

RF Transceiver has two components RF up converter (i.e. transmitter) and RF down converter (i.e. receiver). RF up converter converts IF frequency to RF frequency while RF down converter converts RF frequency to IF frequency. The RF up converter and down converter make use of RF mixers for conversion. There are two main variants for such conversion viz. homodyne and super heterodyne (as shown in figure-2). Homodyne uses one mixer while super heterodyne uses two mixers. Filters are also used in the chain in order to extract desired frequency products and reject all the others. Refer Design of RF Up Converter for more information.

RF Front End Manufacturers | RF Front End Vendors

Following table mentions RF Front End Manufacturers or Vendors.


Manufacturers or Vendors Description
Microchip SST12LF09 - 2400 to 2500 MHz, GaAs pHEMT based structure
Maxim Integrated MAX2741 , MAX2830
Microsemi LX5586HLL - LNA/PA
TI • CC 2591 - supports 2.4 GHz
• CC1190 - supports 850 to 950 MHz
ST STA5630 - GPS/Galileo RF front end
RFMW Ltd • RFFM6904 (868 to 928 MHz) - manufactured by Qorvo
• QPF4518 ( 5150 to 5925 MHz) by Qorvo
Qualcomm RF360
Mitsubishi Electric Si-CMOS IC which supports dual band viz. 5 GHz and 60 GHz.
Skyworks solutions SKY66112-11
Linear Technology LT®5500
Analog Devices AD9361, RF transceiver with 2x2 MIMO support, housing 12 bit ADCs/DACs.

RF Front End vs RF Back End

• As mentioned RF front end refers to modules near the antenna where as RF back end refers to modules far from the antenna.
• Hence RF back end refers to baseband processing modules which converts modulated IF to I and Q signals and vice versa.
• The ADC/DAC converter is used to convert analog IF to digital IF for processing in the baseband chain.

What is Difference between

FIR filter Vs. IIR filter
difference between FDM and OFDM
Difference between SC-FDMA and OFDM
Difference between SISO and MIMO
Difference between TDD and FDD
Difference between 802.11 standards viz.11-a,11-b,11-g and 11-n
OFDM vs OFDMA
CDMA vs GSM
Bluetooth vs zigbee

RF and Wireless Terminologies


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