Calterah Semiconductor: Developing 77/79GHz CMOS mmWave Radar Sensor ICs for Automotive and Industrial Designs

Based in Shanghai, China, and established in 2014, Calterah Semiconductor is a leading provider of 77/79GHz CMOS millimeter wave (mmWave) radar sensor ICs for automotive and industrial applications including advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), security screening and imaging, and smart homes. It is the first and, until now, the only company in China to have mass produced these types of chips. In addition to mmWave circuit design, Calterah also specializes in radar algorithms and signal processing, mmWave electromagnetic field analysis, and mmWave antenna design.

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Calterah Semiconductor’s Alps 77/79GHz radar SoC provides enhanced RF electrical characteristics for advanced radar systems, along with an integrated radar signal processing accelerator that shortens the development cycle.

Challenge

  • Needed power management ICs that meet voltage range, ripple, and automotive functional safety requirements

Solutions

Benefits

  • Support for automotive functional safety requirements
  • Resulting reference design shortens schematic design process by up to 2/3 the time

Jiafeng Wang.

Maxim’s automotive PMIC “perfectly meets our requirements. Not many competitive solutions reach this kind of functional safety level.”

- Jiafeng Wang, Sales Manager, Calterah

Challenges

Among Calterah’s newest products are its Alps 77/79GHz radar system-on-chip (SoC) and its antenna-in-package (AiP). As these are complex chips, the company has created a reference design that streamlines the development process for engineers. The company needed advanced power management ICs for the power supply that supports the total solution customers would design with help from the reference design. Since it is for radar modules, the design’s chip has wide input and output voltage range as well a need for stable ripple. In addition, because its chip needs ~1.1A of continuous output current to operate at 1.5V, the company sought a low-dropout (LDO) regulator.

Solution and Benefits

After an extensive search, the Calterah team chose several Maxim ICs for the power supply to support designs based on its Alps chip:

According to Jiafeng Wang, Calterah’s sales manager, the automotive PMIC “perfectly meets our requirements.” In addition, the IC also supports ASIL C requirements. “Not many competitive solutions reach this kind of functional safety level,” Wang said. The MAX15027, with its 1.425V–3.6V input voltage range, maximum 225mV dropout at 1A output current, and fast transient response, has proven to be a good fit for the company’s design. The company looked at other LDOs on the market, but for designs that need to operate in extreme conditions, these other options presented a risk the company was not willing to take. The MAX20014 easily supports both the industrial and the automotive applications for which Calterah’s chip is targeted.

The combination of Calterah’s reference design with Maxim’s power management ICs has resulted in a solution that allows customers to finish their schematic design within a week, or even as quickly as a couple of days in some cases. Without the reference design, customers would typically need two to three weeks to complete the schematic, according to Wang.

Wang notes that the combination of Calterah’s digital chip with Maxim’s analog chips provides a strong solution for Calterah’s customers.