Semiconductor technologies for GreenICT innovation competition

12/14/2020 – Fraunhofer IAF evaluates disruptive semiconductor technologies and devices for energy-efficient information and communications technology

With the aim of reducing the energy consumption of information and communications technology (ICT), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Reserach (BMBF) has launched the “GreenICT” innovation competition. Fraunhofer IAF participates with the joint project “EdgeLimit.” Together with the project partners Fraunhofer IIS and the University of Freiburg/INATECH, they are researching disruptive semiconductor technologies and approaches, e.g. for more energy-efficient mobile communication antenna systems.


Participation in the innovation competition takes the form of a nine-month preliminary project. The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF is participating with the project “EdgeLimit.” Together with two partners, they are conducting assessments of semiconductor technologies, devices and sub-systems and evaluating how they can improve the efficiency of edge cloud systems, for example.

In addition to the central data processing infrastructures (cloud), modern networked ICT systems increasingly have capacities for collecting and processing information at the edge of the network, as well as systems for transferring data between the cloud and the edge. This is where the EdgeLimit project comes in. Their goal, if the follow-up project is won, is to work with other industry partners to realize a complete antenna system, a so-called “Remote Radio Head” (RRH), which will enable more energy-efficient transmission in the millimeter-wave range. The unique aspect of the project is the early combination of fundamentally new semiconductor components with real and adaptable system technologies at the research level. 

Blue-green logo.
The innovation competition “Electronics for energy-efficient information and communications technology” takes place within the framework of the BMBF initiative “GreenICT,” which is part of the action plan “Natürlich.Digital.Nachhaltig.” (transl.:

Semiconductor technology for more efficient antenna amplifiers

The latest mobile communications antennas are realized in the form of so-called massive MIMO antenna arrays (MIMO: Multiple Input Multiple Output). The number of antenna elements in such arrays increases significantly with increasing frequencies and with it the number of integrated power amplifiers. Unfortunately, these have a very low linear power efficiency today, which decreases considerably with rising frequency. In order to counteract the ever-growing energy demand of modern antenna systems, the project partners rely, among other things, on new semiconductor technology that has the potential to radically increase the power efficiency in integrated circuits (MMICs) through better matching, higher amplification and higher power density.

“Together with INATECH in Freiburg and Fraunhofer IIS, we want to evaluate new technologies and concepts with regard to more sustainable antenna systems and then develop them with industrial partners,” explains project coordinator Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Quay, deputy director of Fraunhofer IAF and professor for Energy-Efficient Radio-Frequency Electronics.

MIMO modules that are mounted one behind the other on a plate.
© Fraunhofer IAF
Fraunhofer IAF achieved breakthroughs in efficiency enhancement in power electronics last year, which are now evaluated with respect to (energy) efficiency enhancement of MIMO modules.

More Information

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Innovation competition for "Electronics for energy-saving information and communication technology."