European Space Agency

Beam Former Chip for Phased Array Antenna Digital Beam Former Chip for Phased Array Antenna (PRIME)


This project covers the development of a Digital Beam Former ASIC (PRIME) that enables the next generation of multi-beam, steerable phased array antenna. The PRIME device enables the creation of phased array antenna where signal processing or conditioning occurs within the digital domain. This will be used for both the receive and transmit operation of the satellite signal. Scalable architecture caters for the different market segments with support for varying bandwidth and power requirements.


The key challenge is to come up with low-cost, low-power, high-performance modular design that is scalable and supports a wide range of features.


Novelty of compensating for phase and delay enabling coherent combining provides following benefits  

  • Wideband Signal Reception/Transmission without beam squints
  • Scalable solution that supports very small, to very large antennas
  • Support for Multiple simultaneous beams with different polarizations
  • Easily configurable from very low to very high signal bandwidths
  • Cost savings due to simplified antenna requirements and lower power consumption


PRIME Digital beam forming ASIC, has been designed to work alongside Satellite Modem and RFIC to realize tightly controlled True time delay with digital logic. Dynamic configuration of Rx or Tx data path depending on the need will be supported. Supports Multi-beam generation & interference cancellation.  Each element can have control over other parameters like gain, equalizer, pre-distortion compensation to shape the antenna beam and to maximize the antenna efficiency. PRIME ASIC can be interconnected with multiple PRIME ASICs that enable a scalable architecture for the required antenna size.

System Architecture

In this project, digital beam forming ASIC chip (PRIME) will be designed. A top level architecture is given below. Satellite Modem (Sx3000) can control multiple digital beam forming Prime Chip. Each of the Prime chips is connected to set of RFIC and Antenna Elements.

On the receive side, signals from each antenna elements are combined in PRIME coherently and passed onto Satellite Modem for demodulation. On the transmit side, IQ from Modem is processed in Prime ASIC and coordinated across Prime to do beam forming. Architecture is designed to be able to handle multiple beams. 


The project is planned in 2 phases.

Phase-1 is focused on achieving Tape Out of the Digital Beam Forming ASIC Chip. There are 3 milestones in this phase-1.

PDR (Primary Design Review) – System Specification ready

CDR (Critical Design Review) – RTL code is reviewed & frozen.

Tape-Out Review – Design as GDS sent to FAB for production.


Phase-2 is focused on validation of the chip. There are 2 milestones in this phase-2.

MPW Review – Evaluation Board & Post Silicon Test Plan ready.

Benchmark Results Review – Transmit & Receive Beam forming benchmark results are ready.

Current status

The project has reached Critical Design Review Milestone. System design and ASIC specification have been completed. ASIC design is well underway with RTL code and validation in progress. ASIC package options and the evaluation board design are kicked off.

Status date

Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 08:47