RF and wireless chips are integrated circuits (IC) that are designed specifically for radio frequency (RF), microwave, and other wireless communications or data transmission applications. There are seven device types: receiver, repeater, transmitter, transceiver, ZigBee coordinator, ZigBee router, and ZigBee end device. ZigBee is a registered trademark of the ZigBee Alliance, a trade association which promotes ZigBee technology. Receivers are RF and wireless chips that are designed to receive signals or data from antennas or from other system devices. Repeaters are interfaces that re-transmit a weak signal after increasing its power. Transmitters are designed to generate and send signals or data. Transceivers are dual devices that can operate as a transmitter and as a receiver. ZigBee coordinators (ZC) are interfaces used as main controllers. ZigBee routers (ZR) are used to transmit data from node to node in a network. ZigBee end devices (ZED) talk only to a parent node. These RF and wireless chips do not transmit data to any other devices in the ZigBee network.
Performance specifications for RF and wireless chips include supply voltage, data rate, sensitivity, power dissipation, and temperature junction. Industry, science and medicine (ISM) band and IC package type are also important considerations. There are three main ISM bands for RF and wireless chips: 902 – 928 MHz, 2.400 – 2.500 GHz, and 5.725 – 5.875 GHz. There are many different IC package types. Examples include ball-grid array (BGA), flip chip ball-grid array (FCBGA), plastic ball-grid array (PBGA), multi-chip module plastic ball-grid array (MCM-PBGA), super ball-grid array (SBGA), tape ball-grid array (TBGA), pin-grid array (PGA) ceramic pin-grid array (CPGA), plastic pin-grid array (PPGA), and flip-chip pin-grid array (FCPGA). RF and wireless chips are also available in IC package types such as chip scale package (CSP), ultra chip scale package (UCSP), wafer-level chip-scale package (WLCSP), quad flat package (QFP), and low quad flat package (LQFP).
RF and wireless chips differ in terms of features. Some have embedded electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection or a Joint Test Action Group (JTA) pin. Others have over-voltage protection, an integrated charge pump, a built-in oscillator, or an automatic power control loop (APC). RF and wireless chips with an embedded, over-thermal protection system; integrated real-time clock circuit; and CODEC support are also available. CODEC is an acronym for compression/decompression, a technology for compressing and decompressing data.