ECE 642 - Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit Design

Course Description

Transistor-level design of circuits for wideband RF front-ends. An overview of 2G (GSM) and 3G (W-CDMA) standards and relevant radio architectures is presented, with key system specifications mapped onto circuit specifications. On-chip passive component design and simulation aimed at maximizing RF performance is discussed in detail. Circuit examples include: wideband preamplifiers and gain blocks, I-Q up/downconverters, voltage- and digitally-controlled oscillators (VCO/DCO), and power amplifier drivers. Design of circuit blocks for mm-wave frequency applications and RF testing, packaging and characterization are also discussed (time permitting).


Professor John R. Long
Office: E5 4022


Functional understanding of analog circuit design and semiconductor devices, e.g., ECE 444, and 331 or equivalents. Analog circuit simulation experience (e.g., SPICE) is required.

Lecture topics

Weeks 1 and 2

  • Overview of radio-frequency integrated circuit (RFIC) design.
  • Circuit specifications derived for 2G (GSM) and 3G (W-CDMA) standards.
  • Transceiver link performance analysis.
  • Assignment 1: Transceiver link analysis.

Weeks 3 and 4

  • Characterization of silicon MOSFETs and SiGe-HBTs, and CMOS/BiCMOS technologies for RF and high-speed applications.
  • Feedback and wideband preamplifiers.
  • Assignment 2: RF amplifier design.

Weeks 5 and 6

  • On-chip passive components: capacitors, varactors, resistors, interconnect and transmission lines, inductors, transformers.
  • Assignment 3: On-chip passive component simulation and design using ADS-Momentum.

Weeks 7 and 8

  • Oscillators. L-C oscillator topologies.
  • Resonant tanks and oscillator tuning.
  • VCO/DCO design for RF transceivers up to mm-wave frequencies.
  • Assignment 4: VCO and DCO design for PLL synthesizers.

Weeks 9 and 10

  • Up and down conversion mixers.
  • Linear multipliers.
  • Mixer input and commutation stages.
  • RFIC approaches for low voltage/low power and high linearity mixing.
  • I/Q mixers and quadrature up/ downconversion.
  • LNA/mixer interfacing.
  • Assignment 5: IC mixer design.

Week 11

  • RFIC design for mm-wave frequency applications.

Week 12

  • RFIC packaging, testing and characterization.
  • Course wrap-up.


  1. B. Razavi, RF Microelectronics, 2nd edition, Prentice-Hall, 2011.
  2. IEEE Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits virtual journal
  3. D. Pozar, Microwave Engineering, 4th edition, Wiley, 2011.
  4. S.P. Voinigescu, High-Frequency Integrated Circuits, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Also: IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits and Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques; Proceedings of the ISSCC, CICC, IMS/RFIC Symposium, BCTM, ESSCIRC, and CSICS conferences.


Project assignments: 5 for 50% total (hand-in required)

Final examination: 50%