How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

Ignion’s proprietary Virtual Antenna™ technology simplifies the complex antenna and RF design, testing, and assembly processes into software-defined configuration and surface mount processes based on miniaturization, standardization, and chip antennas, helping to support Wi-Fi and other Antenna and system engineers save time, effort and money. Wi-Fi equipment manufacturers can enjoy the convenience of standardized chip antenna products, comparable to the high performance of custom antennas.

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

Ignion’s proprietary Virtual Antenna™ technology simplifies the complex antenna and RF design, testing, and assembly processes into software-defined configuration and surface mount processes based on miniaturization, standardization, and chip antennas, helping to support Wi-Fi and other Antenna and system engineers save time, effort and money. Wi-Fi equipment manufacturers can enjoy the convenience of standardized chip antenna products, comparable to the high performance of custom antennas.

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

Wi-Fi and AP equipment manufacturers face RF and antenna design challenges

Thanks to the promulgation of new standards and the addition of more unrestricted frequency bands, it can be expected that devices supporting Wi-Fi functions will increase dramatically worldwide.

According to ABI Research estimates, by 2025, the number of global Wi-Fi devices will increase from around 10.4 billion in 2020 to over 15.5 billion. Fast-growing target markets such as automobiles, smart homes, home entertainment, games, and wearable devices, as well as more and more enterprise adoption, are driving the growth of Wi-Fi devices.

Of course, no one likes unreliable Wi-Fi connections. If equipment manufacturers want to take full advantage of the opportunities that Wi-Fi brings, their products will need to provide stable and predictable performance. Achieving higher data throughput, shorter delay time and lower power consumption are all necessary, and all of these are also required by the Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E standards. In addition, these requirements for performance and power consumption must be implemented simultaneously on all frequency bands supported by Wi-Fi.

Therefore, how to design and optimize the antenna of interconnected devices has become one of the steps to achieve the above goals. However, traditional antenna design is almost always customized for customer systems, even for common communications such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee. The same is true for protocols, not to mention that those frequency bands have different cellular mobile communications, Internet of Things communications standards and proprietary protocols in different countries and regions. Such a development model requires a lot of design, production, and testing and analysis time. At the same time, because non-standardized products also bring about the problem that the automatic placement process cannot be adopted, the supply chain is also very difficult to control, so is there a better What about design, development and application models and methods? .

Use Virtual Antenna™ to create disruptive Wi-Fi products

Ignion provides an innovative, standardized, chip-based Virtual Antenna™ antenna system that shortens the time to market for Wi-Fi devices, while also achieving a performance level comparable to that of custom antennas, without relying on antenna experts to solve problems related to multi-band products. Complex design issues.

Through Ignion’s innovative antenna technology and the use of a simple matching circuit, Electronic engineers can simply “fine-tune” the device to adapt to different frequency bands while still ensuring the necessary level of performance. For business decision makers, the good news is that the design cycle has been shortened, costs have been reduced, and the results are predictable. There is no need to conduct experimental and artisan antenna designs, because these designs always bring the risk of repeated performance, delayed time to market and breaking R&D budgets.

Dan Shey, managing director and vice president of ABI Research, was impressed by Ignion’s cutting-edge solutions. “Matching networks can be created within a few hours,” he said, “and because Virtual Antenna™ technology is standardized and modular, it can ensure the reproducibility and speed of equipment manufacturing. Virtual Antenna™ technology will reduce the total development cost .”

Inventory management and supply chain logistics have also become easier to handle. The Wi-Fi antenna system using Virtual Antenna™ technology covers all standards and frequency bands related to the wireless protocol, so there is no need to purchase different antennas for different regions, although the spectrum available in those regions is likely to be different.

The NRE fee is also an issue that must be considered in the antenna design process. Because the traditional antenna adopts a customized model, in many cases, the antenna design company will also collect NRE fees from the system and module manufacturers. However, with standardized chip antennas, you can complete the antenna design for free by using the Fast Track tool on Ignion’s Chinese website to save NRE costs; the same Wi-Fi device only needs to be designed once, and it can be successfully operated in different regions .

ABI Research1In its recently published white paper, it emphasized the advantages of using Ignion’s Virtual Antenna™ method over other antenna design methods. The market research organization concluded: “One of the main advantages of Virtual Antenna™ technology is that it helps Reduce product inventory and simplify integration complexity.”

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

No compromise on performance

Carles Puente, co-founder and vice president of innovation at Ignion, made it clear that some people think that Virtual Antenna™ products are standardized and ready-to-use, which means that Wi-Fi devices have a compromise in performance. This is a misconception.

“Some people may feel a dilemma,” he said. “If you want the best performance, then you need to customize the antenna; if you want to get a fast and cheap product, then the off-the-shelf chip antenna is the best choice ; Our technology achieves the best of both worlds! You only need to simply adjust the matching network, not the antenna part, to get the performance of a custom antenna. So using Virtual Antenna™ technology, there is no compromise in performance.”

Printed circuit board (PCB) traces and stamped metal are some other options for antenna design. For single-band applications, the former may be more attractive in terms of cost, but for multi-band deployment, how to adjust the length and geometry of the trace may be problematic. According to ABI Research, one of the main disadvantages of PCB routing is that there may be inconsistencies in the production process, which in turn can lead to quality problems.

The easy-to-use “matching network” function is part of the Virtual Antenna™ system, which will not encounter these types of problems.

According to the analysis of ABI Research, the metal stamping method can provide good multi-band performance, but this can only be effective under the premise of “appropriate custom design”. This will involve additional investment in custom manufacturing molds and tools for each design. Vibration may also loosen the antenna.

“If you change the frequency band or PCB size, when you use other methods to design the antenna, you will go back to the stage of drawing the circuit board and you must redesign,” said Dan Klaeren, general manager of Ignion North America sales. “Using Virtual Antenna™ technology, No need to start from scratch. Equipment manufacturers can reuse existing designs.”

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

The NANO mXTEND™ chip antenna in the Ignion Wi-Fi product portfolio is currently the world’s smallest Virtual Antenna™ antenna element.

Ignion has three standardized, ready-made Wi-Fi Virtual Antenna™ products, each of which is suitable for small-sized devices. They cover all standards and frequency bands related to the wireless protocol.

“The Wi-Fi market requires small, stylish, and attractive devices. Whether you are for consumers or businesses, you want to bring these products to market quickly,” said Dan Klaeren of Ignion. “This means shortening the design. Cycle and risk reduction, all of this can be achieved with our unique wireless Fast Track tool.”

The design cycle is also an issue that antenna and RF development teams must consider. Because traditional antenna design requires a lot of time to design, test, and debug, it brings a lot of work to RF engineers. But using Virtual Antenna technology, you can use the Fast Track tool on the Ignion Chinese website to provide sample matching circuit designs for Wi-Fi devices within 24 hours.

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

NANO mXTEND™ is currently the smallest Virtual Antenna™ chip antenna with a super compact size of only 3.0 x 2.0 x 0.8 mm. NANO mXTEND™ was launched at the Wi-Fi World Congress in May this year and can be installed on the corner or edge of the PCB. The first application scenario of the chip antenna is the application centered on the 2.4 GHz frequency band, including Wi-Fi, BLE and Zigbee, and other wireless applications of NANO will continue to be developed in the future.

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

DUO mXTEND™ chip antenna supports Wi-Fi 6 and covers the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. It measures 7.0 x 3.0 x 2.0 mm, making it ideal for access points and edge devices that require 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections, such as gaming headsets.

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

ONE mXTEND™ product is a miniature ultra-thin chip antenna. Its size is only 7.0 x 3.0 x 1.0 mm, which can be installed on almost any hardware platform.

ONE mXTEND™ covers the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz frequency bands and supports Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6, and Wi-Fi 6E. Even if equipment manufacturers are not ready to use all Wi-Fi standards and frequency bands, by adopting ONE mXTEND™ from the beginning, there is no need for lengthy and expensive redesigns when expansion is required. ONE mXTEND™ is an innovative way to design Wi-Fi product antennas for the future.

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

Get ready for 8×8 MIMO

The arrival of Wi-Fi 6 expands the support for multiple input multiple output (MIMO), from the 4×4 antenna configuration supported by Wi-Fi 5 to the 8×8 MIMO configuration. The new standard also introduces the uplink multi-user function MU-MIMO, which supports multiple clients to transmit data to the access point at the same time.

In order to increase the Wi-Fi capacity, it is necessary to accommodate multiple antennas in a small space, which complements Ignion’s miniature Virtual Antenna™ chip-based technology. “In a MIMO configuration, if the antennas are too close, it may cause suboptimal coupling,” Puente explained. “Through our innovative solution, you can install our chip antenna on the PCB of the AP or Wi-Fi device. Frames or perimeters, because it is known that they take up the smallest space and can be separated as much as possible, while still providing the required multi-band performance.”

How to use Virtual Antenna technology to overcome Wi-Fi product antenna and RF design challenges

Not affected by chip shortages

Due to the impact of the epidemic, ceramic chips and semiconductor products are in short supply. But this will not affect the production of Ignion chip antennas. Our chip antenna is based on epoxy glass material, which is a common substrate material in PCB. Epoxy glass is a material with a wide range of sources and is now produced in multiple factories around the world. Customers who use Ignion’s Virtual Antenna™ chip antenna do not need to worry about long delivery times.

Because they use standardized products, they don’t need to worry about unpredictable design cycles and unqualified performance.

The Virtual Antenna™ system provides Wi-Fi equipment manufacturers with peace of mind, makes their work easier, and enables them to concentrate on developing this booming market.

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