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Development of 79GHz Pulse Compression Radar Front-end Chip

World’s First Single-chip CMOS Pulse Compression Radar Sensor at 79GHz

“Radio frequency integrated circuit (RFIC) technology has been in the realm of compound-related processes, but developing chips through the process of CMOS, a type of semiconductor chip, can dramatically improve the performance, size, price, and mass-productibility of radar systems. In addition, since this new chip can operate with high reliability in a relatively unfavorable vehicle environment, it is expected to maximize the added value of the core parts of radars. For this purpose, a research team led by Prof. Hong Songcheol utilized the CMOS process to develop a single chip for UWB radar sensor transceiver with low power consumption and miniature size in the range of 77-81GHz for vehicular application. The team also made a prototype radar module to extract distance information. With the ability to measure distance with high resolution and accuracy in the legally permissible 79GHz range, the latest achievement is emerging as a ‘blue chip’ in the global for-vehicle radar market.”

The 79GHz CMOS Radar Chip will Prevail in the near future

As one of the most common application areas of radar sensors, the for-vehicle radar market has seen a constant growth rate annually. According to Global Industry Analysts, a US research agency, the global market for radar sensors used exclusively for vehicles is expected to grow at an annual average of 25 percent and was worth USD 46.9 billion in 2015, USD 58.6 billion in 2016, and USD 73.2 billion in 2017. In addition to the speed of growth, the radar sensor technology offers the best performance, receiving increased attention from related industries.

Radar sensor technology has incurred constantly increasing demand, not only in the automobile radar market, but also in varying sectors such as medicine, national defense, transportation, robotics, and drones. In this context, it was necessary to develop state-of-the-art sensor technology by means of independent technical prowess and a stable semiconductor process.

In response to the recent trends, a research team led by Prof. Hong Songcheol at KIITC utilized the CMOS process to develop a single chip for UWB (W-band UWB pulse compression) radar transceiver IC with low power consumption and miniature size in the range of 79GHz for application in vehicles. The team also made a prototype radar to extract distance information based on the radar sensor IC. What is significant about this achievement is that the hybrid-type radar sensor currently used in industrial fields was made into a system on a chip (SOC). As the radar becomes considerably smaller and uses less power while realizing outstanding performance, the entire process from chip development to mass-production can be significantly improved.

The achievement can be understood in three aspects. Firstly, by developing a W-band UWB pulse compression radar transceiver based on CMOS with ultra-low power consumption and high output power. Secondly, the CMOS-based W-band UWB radar receiver can have high dynamic range by reducing gain automatically at high input powers. Thirdly, the research team realized the CMOS-based W-band radar system featuring high distance resolution and accuracy. This system is of particularly high significance as the world’s first W-band UWB pulse compression radar chip that integrated a transmitter, receiver, and signal generator.

A team led by Prof. Hong developed a 24GHz radar sensor 12 years ago and later successfully developed 26GHz, 77GHz, and 79GHz radar sensors, demonstrating the outstanding level of technology developed domestically in the sector of radar sensors. In particular, the world’s first CMOS-based SOC technology emerged as a blue chip in the global radar sensor market and is anticipated to bring further potential for progress.

This research accelerated the realization of single-chip (semiconductor chip with integrated functions for various parts) technology to detect 3D image information and became a precursor of the global radar market based on the outstanding mass-productibility and price competitiveness of the CMOS process. The technology is also anticipated to be applied, not only to the vehicle radar market, but also to a range of fields including national defense, security, automobiles, robotics, environment, medicine, and gesture recognition.

Prof. Hong, Songcheol
2015 Annual Report

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