Qualinx: The Ultra-Low-Power Radio

Technology continues to better our everyday lives from smartphones, GPS-trackers, and sport-watches to wireless headphones and more, everything becomes digital and portable.

Thus, Qualinx aims to contribute to the best user experience of portable devices by offering an essential building block: the ultra-low-power radio.

Qualinx is a wireless radio startup, whose primary focus is on radios for portable devices in the Internet-of-Things applications.

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Qualinx was founded in 2015 as a spin-off of the well-known Technical University of Delft (TU Delft). The company commercializes the innovative and tested Digital/Discrete-Time RF (DRF) technology for various ultra-low-power radio products. The main concept behind DRF technology is a digital and digital-like implementation of RF/Analog blocks via new circuits, systems, and architectural innovations.

This allows for a full integration of high-quality radios in CMOS with the lowest power consumption and a small die size.

With this ability, Qualinx is looking into the need for radio solutions with long battery life, driven by the portable IoT, wearable, and mobile applications in volume production. Qualinx DRF technology is well-suited for Bluetooth, ZigBee, Thread, GNSS, and other IoT standards which require an ultra-low-power consumption.

European funding combined with the support of TU Delft has led to extensive developments so that Qualinx can already offer CMOS radios and their related IPs.

DRF Technology

The main focus behind scaling CMOS is to lessen the transistor cost and enhance digital performance, however, conventional RF/analog designs do not benefit significantly.  As the company explained on their website, “By going from 180nm to 28nm CMOS, power supply voltage is reduced almost to half while MOS threshold voltage (Vth) has not changed considerably. Therefore, the available precious voltage headroom for RF/analog design is now reduced dramatically. Considering also the reduced MOS intrinsic gain and its saturation linearity, RF/analog design is becoming generally more difficult, time-consuming, and costly.”

Therefore, Qualinx uses Digital/Discrete-time RF (DRF) methods and building blocks to circumvent the need to use complicated analog techniques, especially at deep nano-scale CMOS nodes. In turn, wireless receivers developed by Qualinx can fully operate at very low supply voltages with very low power consumption. As the technology grows, Qualinx RF transceivers experience improved performance, less power consumption, and a lower cost, just like digital circuits!

The company is now successfully growing their international customer base in addition to their strategic partnership with leading semiconductor OEMs. Qualinx is located in Delft, Netherlands and bills themselves as an exciting place for creative and ambitious people to work.

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