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New EtherChip Front-End Device Dynamically Tunes Antennas

Designers of new smartphones and tablets face the challenge of making antennas small enough to fit in the devices, while covering an ever increasing range of frequencies. Dynamically-tuned antennas are an option, but add cost and additional components. Ethertronics new EtherChip 1.0, the first in a series of building blocks for RF front-end module chips, provides tuning to dynamically tune cellular antennas as required to offset the effects of hand or head capacitance or to increase bandwidth. 

In its news release Ethertronics said “Each year, the space available for the RF front end decreases by 25 percent. Soon, the entire front end will need to reside in the space once occupied solely by the antenna. EtherChip 1.0 is a new structure that takes Ethertronics further into the RF system, and is the first step in enabling a smarter AFEM (Antenna Front End Module) for cost-effective, efficient and scalable solutions.”

“Consumer demand for the thinnest form factors with large screens and big batteries has challenged the industry to deliver 4G devices that provide a superior user experience,” said Laurent Desclos, president and CEO at Ethertronics. “A smarter AFEM is creating a paradigm shift for the RF front end. Ethertronics’ expertise in antenna systems, the only wireless sensor within the device, coupled with our deep understanding of RF, has positioned us to further expand our product portfolio into the RF Front End. We are excited to unveil this innovative new solution that adds more smarts to wireless devices within a form factor that will competitively differentiate OEMs for their next-generation 4G and 3G devices.”

EtherChip 1.0 is the first commercially available product from Ethertronic's Chip Division. The company also has an antenna division that provides active and passive antennas for cell phones, laptops, M2M and DAS customers. It also has a systems division that focuses on active antennas and related algorithms for next-generation 3G and 4G networks. 

While the Ethertronics release did not mention broadcast TV reception on portable devices, the company was involved in the NAB-funded FASTROAD project to develop small VHF and UHF receive antennas and issued the Embedded FM/TV Antenna System Final Report for NAB. 

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.