EnSilica to Develop Next-Generation Ka Band Satellite Transceivers for the European Space Agency
Millimetre wave CMOS chip to form key component in ARTES / CASSIS project and provide next generation automotive communications
30th January 2020, Wokingham, UK – EnSilica, a leading provider of custom ASIC design and supply services has announced it is developing a single-chip Ka band transceiver IC for the European Space Agency. The mmWave IC will form a key component of next-generation, low-cost hybrid automotive communication terminals – enabling vehicles to always be connected.
The IC is being developed as part of ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) project and the CASSIS project (Connected Automotive Satellite Service Integrated System), which is led by the UK Satellite Applications Catapult (UKSAC).
It is estimated that over a quarter (27%) of automotive use cases will require satellite connectivity by 2025, and ubiquitous, high speed connectivity will not be possible through the 4G/5G cellular network alone (source CASSIS).
Operating at up to 31.5 GHz, the custom Ka band CMOS ASIC will form part of an affordable, consumer-scale communications module supporting a flat panel electronically steerable phased array antenna. The hybrid module will communicate with geostationary and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, 4G/5G infrastructure and Wi-Fi communications to deliver high capacity connectivity to cars, small vessels and aircraft.
Ian Lankshear, CEO at EnSilica said: “Ka band technologies are set to play an increasingly critical role in enabling the next-generation of low-cost satellite and 5G communications systems. EnSilica’s mmWave team’s expertise, coupled with the company’s automotive ASIC supply strategy, ideally position us to help our customers develop such ICs in CMOS and address this growing need.”
Paul Febvre, Chief Technology Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: “We are really excited that Ensilica have joined us to accelerate the development of a new class of satellite terminals to provide low-cost high-performance connectivity for the automotive sector. Ensilica bring the capability and expertise necessary to integrate with automotive systems and then scale-up the manufacturing to deliver products at the right price.”
First samples of the ASIC will be available for evaluation in Q2 2020.
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Figure 1: A block diagram of EnSilica’s Ka chip that will enable satellite comms for vehicles, giving connectivity even when no 5G / 4G network is available – Copyright EnSilica
Figure 2: Board level design featuring the Ka CMOS chip – Copyright EnSilica
Figure 3: How vehicles will be connected – Copyright The Satellite Applications Catapult, reproduced with permission
Figure 4: A low earth orbit satellite
By 2025 it is expected that 27% of automotive use cases will require satellite connectivity since ubiquitous, high speed connectivity for mobile users cannot be delivered by 4G/5G alone. Satellite communications provides unique and complementary features compared to the enormous investments required in terrestrial infrastructure to deliver adequate coverage and capacity to everyone everywhere. The CASSIS (Connect Automotive Satellite Served Integrated System) program, is part of a multi-million-pound UK research and development initiative that aims to put the UK connected vehicle supply chain at the forefront of satellite communications technology and tap into the $160 billion market for mobile satellite terminals and payload technologies.
EnSilica is a leading fabless design house focused on custom ASIC design and supply for OEMs and system houses, and IC design services for companies with their own design teams. The company has world-class expertise in supplying custom analog, mixed signal and digital IC’s to its international customers in the automotive, industrial, healthcare and consumer markets. The company also offers a broad portfolio of core IP covering cryptography, radar and communications systems. EnSilica has a track record in delivering high quality solutions to demanding industry standards.
About the Satellite Applications Catapult
The Satellite Applications Catapult is an independent innovation and technology company, created by Innovate UK to drive economic growth through the exploitation of space. They work with businesses of all sizes to realise their potential from space infrastructure and its applications. Based in Harwell, Oxfordshire, the Catapult was established in May 2013 as one of a network of centres to accelerate the take-up of emerging technologies and drive economic impact for the UK. They are not-for-profit organisation which is registered as a private company limited by guarantee and controlled by its Board. See sa.catapult.org.uk for more information.
Rob Ashwell, Fourteen Communications