RF Power Amplifier

RF power amplifier(PA) is the last stage which handles maximum amount of power in a transmit chain. In order to deliver large amount of power to load or antenna, it has to handle large signal swings which introduces distortion in the power output due to non-linear characteristics of the transistors. The amount of the distortion a PA can tolerate depends on the modulating signal (wireless standard or modulation technique) to be amplified. Since a PA handles relatively portion of total power, the power efficiency of power amplifier has considerable influence on the overall efficiency of a transceiver/radio.

Several types of power amplifier architectures are proposed in literature, and the choice of architecture is greatly influenced by modulation type, communication standard, cmos (any other) technology, cost along with designer’s choice. Ofcourse, apart from these, there are lot other parameters to influence the architecture selection.

Performance Metrics

Following are important metrics often used to guage the performance of a power amplifier. Some metrics are defined in a given standard, others arise from the designer’s perpective.
Metrics defined in standard

  • Output Power
  • Spectral Mask
  • ACPR (Adjacent Channel Power Ratio)
  • Signal Modulation
  • Error Vector Magnitude

Metrics not defined in standards, but still important from the design perspective are

  • PAE (Power Added Efficiency)
  • Drain Efficiency
  • Power Gain
  • 1dB Compression Point (P1dB)

[ Read more . . . ]

Power Amplifier Classes

Power amplifiers are broadly classified into two categories, linear PAs and switch-mode PAs. In linear power amplifiers the active device works as a transconductor, whereas in switching mode power amplifier it act as a switch.

  • Linear PAs : Class-A, Class-B, Class-AB, and Class-C
  • Switch-mode PAs : Class-D, Class-E, Class-F, Class-G and Class-H

Amplifier classes of operation [ Read more . . . ]

Linearity Enhancement Techniques

  • FeedForward Linearization
    – Based on inherently wideband technology
  • Digital Predistortion
    – Limited Bandwidth (DSP implementation)
  • RF-Based Predistortion
    – Limited accuracy of function model
    – Implemented at RF with low complexity
    – Adaptation is required
  • Cartesian Feedback
    – Stability considerations limit bandwidth and accuracy
  • LINC (LInear amplification using Nonlinear Components)
    – Sensitive to component drift and has a high level of complexity
  • Dynamic Biasing
    – Limited ACI suppression

Efficiency Enhancement Techniques

  • Adaptive bias
  • Doherty Power Amplifier
  • Envelope Elimination and Restoration (EER)

RF Power Amplifier Manufacturers


Research Groups


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