Milestone-Proposal:Integrated Circuits for Satellite Digital Radio, 1996-1997

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Docket #:2024-06

This proposal has been submitted for review.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Integrated Circuits for Satellite Digital Radio, 1996-1997

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

In 1996, STMicroelectronics devised three integrated circuits (ICs) essential for satellite digital radio reception: frequency demodulation, baseband processing, and compressed audio decoding. In 1997, these low-power ICs enabled the world's first affordable digital radio satellite receiver. Their adoption by Worldspace and Sirius XM Radio provided inexpensive educational and entertainment services in Africa, India, and the US, and addressed a United Nations humanitarian call for inexpensive radio service to less-developed countries.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

In the 90s, the UN, for humanitarian purposes, called for the establishment of radio services to spread education to people in less developed countries such as those in Africa and Asia. No affordable integrated circuits suitable for mass manufacturing were available and, therefore, no cheap digital receivers could be made for digital radio content services to address the UN recommendations.

Suitable telecom infrastructures did not exist; they were lacking powerful transmission means at a continental level (to cover the whole of Africa, and India for example). Terrestrial transmissions (with medium/long waves) were only possible to receive at night, being very unreliable and not suitable for systematically planned student education. To solve this problem, the most viable solution to address the UN's call was to start satellite digital audio transmission; however, this required significant technical and financial investments. Without digital radio satellite receivers embodying integrated circuit technologies, these investments, even if affordable, would be wasted.

To help with that, in 1996 STMicroelectronics, thanks to years of background research and its own fabrication of test chips, devised three integrated circuits which were essential for affordable satellite digital radio reception. These were instrumental in achieving frequency demodulation, baseband processing, and compressed audio decoding. In 1997, they were fully functional and, when connected together, enabled the radio receiver’s mass production by OEMs. Worldspace and Sirius XM Radio services adopted them and provided reliable educational services in Africa, India, and then in the USA. Today, these chips are still in production and actively allow users to listen to radio services throughout the USA.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

Circuits and System Society

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Italy, France

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: France
Senior Officer Name: René GARELLO

Unit: Italy
Senior Officer Name: Gianfranco Chicco

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: France
Senior Officer Name: René GARELLO

Unit: Italy
Senior Officer Name: Gianfranco Chicco

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: France
IEEE Section Chair name: René GARELLO

IEEE Section: Italy
IEEE Section Chair name: Gianfranco Chicco

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Danilo Pau
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

1. Agrate Brianza, Italy

       a.	Via Paracelso, 20, 20864 Agrate Brianza MB 
       b.	45.57148857901023, 9.33684129669994

2. Cornaredo, Italy

       a.	Via Tolomeo, 1, 20007 Cornaredo MI 
       b.	45.47080481055753, 9.034131854366555

3. Catania, Italy

       a.     Str. Primosole, 50, 95121 Catania CT 
       b.     37.43943860142928, 15.064858626938769

4. Grenoble, France

       a.	12 Rue Jules Horowitz, 38019 Grenoble 
       b.	45.20457588270428, 5.694331858059045

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. At the Agrate site, the ST System Research group devised the system architecture thus defining functionalities and the specifications assigned to the three-chip subject of the proposed milestone.

At the Catania site, STA001 chip was conceived and designed.

At the Cornaredo site, STA002 chip was conceived and designed.

At the Grenoble site, STA003 chip was conceived and designed.

These four sites are the most important and historic for ST.

The Grenoble site hosts the Milestone plaque:

                 MPEG Multimedia Integrated Circuits, 1984-1993

The Agrate and Cornaredo sites each host a copy of the Milestone plaque:

                  Multiple Technologies on a Chip, 1985 

Are the original buildings extant?

Yes, they are active and host the design and manufacturing of chips.

Details of the plaque mounting:

Plaques will be installed:

a) In Grenoble at the same place as the milestone since the existing structure can host a second one

b) In Agrate and Cornaredo sites at the same, as the milestone,_1985

c) In Catania site, it will be installed in front of the main entrance, see next figure, like it was for Agrate and Cornaredo Media:stcatania.jpg

In all cases, the plaques will be placed in a public place in front of the main entrance, fully surveilled by ST guards 24/7. The ST employees, visitors, and customers will visit it as in a public place, right outside the site restricted perimeter.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

Each plaque at each ST site is surveilled by company security personnel and surveillance cameras, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Italy: STMicroelectronics Srl

France: STMicroelectronics (Grenoble 2) SAS

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

1) Object and context of the milestone proposal

o support satellite signal demodulation and information decoding at the research level, several functionalities within integrated circuits were devised and designed by ST starting in the early 1990s. At that time, the UN was eager, for humanitarian purposes, to see the establishment of radio services to help spread education to poor people living in lesser-developed, remote, and third-world countries. Since no integrated circuits were commercially available and, consequently, no digital receivers existed, no digital radio content services could be started to address the UN recommendations. Telecom infrastructures did not exist, or they lacked powerful transmission means at the continental level (such as in Africa and India). Far and remote terrestrial transmissions (with medium/long waves) could be received only during the night, having very low reliability and not being suitable for affordable, reliable student education during daylight.

To address this problem, the most viable solution to address the UN request was to start satellite digital audio transmission of educational services with enormous investments. However, without digital radio satellite receivers embodying suitable integrated circuit technologies, these investments—even if possible—would be wasted. Thanks to earlier investments in research and development by STMicroelectronics, fundamental circuit building blocks were conceived and implemented on different CMOS, RF (radio frequency), and bipolar in-house mastered silicon technologies. Consequently, to support the above needs, ST integrated them into dedicated circuits optimized in silicon area and power consumption. Moreover, they were conceived to be produced in high volume, with high yields and reliability to achieve the lowest production costs, essential for their affordability in poor countries. This was all fundamental for their widespread adoption into consumer radio satellite systems and instrumental in starting the satellite radio services.

Thanks to the several instrumental innovations ST developed since 1994, these circuits enabled and accelerated the introduction of satellite radio services named Worldspace and XMradio. As a result, these ST circuits enabled the reception for the first time of educational and entertainment information by students (and later also by car and truck drivers) using satellite broadcast services across continents. These circuits also eased the switch from analog to digital radio in the mid-1990s. The objects of the present IEEE milestone nomination are the integrated circuits named STA001, STA002, and STA003.

2) Technical innovations introduced by the milestone

The significant innovation leaps were:

a) Satellite radio was a cornerstone in the evolution of information broadcast, and for it to happen, it required the combined availability of CMOS, bipolar, and BiCMOS silicon manufacturing technology mastered by ST. This was fundamentally to address the challenges of keeping low power consumption and costs in the receivers. This innovation is different from,_1985 because the latter required power DMOS transistors integration, which were not capable of keeping low power consumption and were meant for motor control and conversion applications. In that respect, only by using BiCMOS ST technology was it possible to guarantee performance, minimal power consumption, and form factor optimized receivers which could be adopted in under-developed countries.

b) Complete end-to-end receiver architecture to enable satellite radio service reception in any place on Earth, covered by satellite transmission, thus making obsolete terrestrial analog radio transmissions, which were nationally and sub-nationally deployed and very fragmented.

c) ST created integrated circuits suitable for ensuring functionality through the best possible use of the radio band, making it a reality thanks to the entire combination of the signal processing chain from radio frequency to channel decoding and source decoding, allowing the deployment of satellite radio services even on mobile receivers. This meant no more need for directional antennas (dishes).

d) Numerous patents witnessed the innovations brought by these circuits.

e) The integrated circuits were ready in 1997 for the first satellite radio receiver to be assembled, enabling experimentation of services which occurred in Africa and the Middle East later in 1999.

f) One of the three integrated solutions made obsolete cumbersome discrete component solutions for radio frequency reception.

g) One of the three integrated solutions made demodulation error-free with minimized complexity and was conceived in 1994.

h) Software-based audio MP3 compressed content decoding using low-power ANSI C programmable digital processors. This is completely different from the milestone because the latter was focused only on image processing decoding, which required specific and very different integrated circuits and algorithm solutions to address the inverse coding of moving pictures.

3) The three integrated circuits

These were essential for the receiver architecture and are described below in their essence:


a) One-chip solution for Satellite Radio RF frontend, in 1996 as opposed to RF electronic solutions implemented by discrete components.

b) It integrated 2 different PLLs (phase-locked loops) inside the same chip, having functions of local oscillators generation for 1st (RF) and 2nd (IF) frequency conversions. A big challenge solved by STA001 was the simultaneous running of the 2 PLLs without interfering with each other and coexisting with a very high gain (120dB) signal chain.

c) The chip integrated in a single die critical RF components, like inductors and varicaps for Voltage Controlled Oscillator resonators.


a) First low-power single chip for satellite radio channel decoding embedding 6-bit A/D conversion, digital AGCs (automatic gain control), digital carrier, and timing recovery.

b) Full VHDL (VHSIC Hardware Description Language) design, allowing porting across silicon technology nodes.

c) Complete baseband decoding from I/F to MP3 service extraction.

d) Embedded decryption logic for conditional access management.


a) First MP3 decoder single chip.

b) Full VHDL design.

c) Very Large Instruction Word DSP (digital signal processor) computing architecture.

d) 24-bit DSP optimized for audio signal processing.

e) Very efficient compiler to allow DSP programming in C language without assembly coding of the algorithms, with unprecedented productivity.

f) Cycle-accurate simulator of the DSP, to predict performances and to write applications/algorithms ahead of time before the chips were fabricated.

g) Fractional PLL.

h) Patch RAM (random access memory) allows bypassing some part of the ROM (read-only memory) code for decoding some specific bitstream encoded with non-standard-compliant MP3 encoder (at the transmission stage).

4) Arguments to support the sentence in citation : world's first affordable digital radio satellite receiver

Overall context

In 90s Media:trev_276-wood.pdf the digital radio by satellite (DRS) was established in Europe but uncertain about its future duration because it was analog , with few systems available. There were 2 radio-by-satellite systems (ADR Astra Digital Radio and DSR Digital Satellite Radio ) which were unable to provide services for the mobile listener. The latter uses an analog television signal to carry, piggy-back, a number of digital radio channels as well as the TV channels. To receive ADR, a relatively large fixed receiving dish (80 cm) was needed. DVB-S, Digital Video Broadcasting intended primarily for digital television, could provide satellite radio to smaller-sized dishes than ADR but needed to be fixed, and to have a clear line of sight to the satellite. It’s lifespan was linked to that of analog television. All the digital radio-by-satellite systems used at that times (DSR, ADR and DVB-S) suffered from the same shortcoming – listeners on the move could not receive them. DAB was developed to remedy this, and to provide better sound quality


The European Eureka DAB Digital Audio Broadcasting system was developed technically in the 80s to provide near-CD sound quality to the listener, at home or on the move. It was on-air from terrestrial transmitters in several European countries, Canada, Australia, China, India and other parts of the world. The Eureka-147 DAB system was used for terrestrial digital broadcasting, and, in principle, it was deemed possible to use it for digital radio by satellite. Because satellites can serve large geographical areas, and because the domestic radio services of EBU European Broadcasting Union Members were no more than country-wide (and often less), the use of satellites for DAB has been seen as unnecessary to fulfill the national broadcasting requirements.

Worldspace vs Mediastar

WorldSpace and MediaStar ( the latter was considering using Eureka-147 DAB) digital radio by satellite services came into the picture. In the early 1990s, the American Noah Samara (Worldspace CEO) had the vision to provide the developing countries of Africa and the southern hemisphere with low-cost, reliable, small form factor, digital radio-by-satellite. The developing world would have reliable access to a vast number of crystal-clear radio channels, coming from throughout the world, on a low-cost receiver. The first satellite, Afrispace, was scheduled to be launched in October 1998, so that the service could start right after provided the availability of an affordable mobile receiver. Worldspace initially considered the Eureka-147 DAB system and preferred to design and develop a simpler system thus enabling very cheap receivers, because this is all the developing countries can afford. The MediaStar system, instead, was meant to operate in the northern hemisphere adopting DAB system for radio-by-satellite. MediaStar was at an earlier stage of development than WorldSpace , and in 1998 its operations were expected to begin in 2001 or later if investors were found.

Digital Radio Mondiale

Another digital system was being developed for the short-wave bands in a collaborative project called DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) however it was not mature enough to start any service in 1998 as Worldspace was set.

ITT competition

About the receivers, a competing development versus ST solutions and associated to the Worldspace service was by ITT , however the system integration, the scalability, and the flexibility, i.e., the programmability, of STA’s chipset was by far superior. ITT made the choice to develop a conservative discrete RF module, thus taking advantage of a shorter development time and not the innovation: it was a discrete tuner module with several components, using existing discrete electronics. Instead, ST privileged innovation by developing a new design RF monolithic ICs. To shorten development time, ST devised and produced multiple versions of the monolithic RF IC, the STA001 (see reference Media:STA001mutichip.pdf, with specific architecture variants, and choose the best one to be adopted in the receiver; this was the winning strategy in terms of overall timeframe and innovation against ITT.

Sirius SDARS service

For Sirius SDARS service, ST released a chipset even more integrated and better performing than the chipset from Agere ; indeed, after the 1st generation, Sirius decided to close the partnership with Agere and concentrated on ST for all the next generations. That was a proof of the innovation, speed to production of ST against competition. STA002 was the first low power single chip for satellite radio channel decoding embedding 6-bit A/D conversion, digital AGCs (automatic gain control), digital carrier and timing recovery. STA002 was probably the most advanced radio baseband decoder of the 90s; all device parameters could be easily configured by an external micro-controller via the dedicated I2C interface. STA003 was the first MP3 decoder single chip.

5) Innovation beyond trivial integration of functionalities

About STA001 the choice of using a High-Speed Bipolar silicon process, devised and developed by ST, implementing Trench Isolation was fundamental in achieving high overall performance with several blocks working at the same time and sharing the same silicon and substrate. Parts that could be considered as aggressors for interaction with the signal path (PLLs, Digital, programming interface) especially at maximum signal gain situations, were so properly isolated, preserving the overall signal and noise performance.

About STA002, new intellectual properties were devised: QPSK demodulator; Forward Error Correction; Viterbi & Reed-Solomon; High speed optimal decoders converging with minimal number of arithmetic operations, low latency when performing channel hop; TDM demultiplexer ; Broadcast Channel demultiplexer; Service Component demultiplexer. They were specifically conceived and designed ahead of exploitation into the chips since 1993. ST's in-house knowledge of signal processing (such as Nyquist filtering, carrier loop, and timing recovery) was fundamental to support such building block conception. In October 1993, ST started on its own to work on satellite specifications, and designed the FEC Reed-Solomon decoder which was the smallest in the world: 30% tinier than competition including de-interleaver, and Viterbi decoder. Then ST designers added the filters, carrier and timing loops and produced the first sample STV0195 in sept 1995.

The associated patents were: a) US5861773 Circuit for detecting the locked condition of PSK or QAM, 1995 Media:US5861773.pdf b) US5818854A Reed-Solomon decoder, 1994 Media:US5818854.pdf c) US5703526A Circuit for detecting the locked condition of PSK or QAM demodulators, 1995. Media:US5703526.pdf d) US5802115 Convolution decoder using the Viterbi algorithm, 1995. Media:US5802115.pdf e) US5737343 Circuit for localizing errors in Reed-Solomon decoders, 1994 Media:US5737343.pdf f) US5612910 Circuit for inverting elements of a finite field, 1994 Media:US5612910.pdf

They were capitalized into the Satellite digital radio later; similar IPs were developed for SDARS chipsets. The STA002 was an essential component of the 1st low-power commercial satellite radio receiver.

About STA003 a fundamental building hardware block was the MMDSP (multimedia digital signal processor) to run audio decoding. The development started since 1991 and was capitalized into STi4500 (the ST MPEG audio Decoder), and then included in all ST MPEG SoC produced through the 90s and 2000s. MMDSP was a dedicated ST fully inhouse conceived Very Large Instruction Set (VLIW) computing processor when existing DSP were single and limited instruction set fully assembly programmed. The MMDSP has been developed since 1994, several years before the satellite digital radio required it, and with the goal to decode the AC3 (DOLBY DIGITAL standard) used in DVD players: the MMDSP was then integrated into STi4600 (Dolby Digital/MPEG2 Audio decoder), STi5500 & STi5505 (Audio/Video Set top box and DVD back-end processor) one of the ST blockbusters dedicated to Digital TV.

More details on MMDSP

The micro-architecture, the hardware, the associated tools (cycle accurate simulator, C compiler, real time Debugger) and the software were fully conceived and developed in ST. The architecture of the MMDSP was the same as the one used for the first DVD decoder. For the STA003, ST optimized the design in terms of area and power, limiting the functionalities to only the MP3 decoding and limiting the pin numbers, removing all that was not required by the satellite digital radio receivers (such as for the Worldspace system, e.g.), by optimizing the ROM using a fixed-point implementation at 24 bits, enough for accurate MP3 software decoding.

The VLIW architecture was not common for existing DSP micro-architectures. ST's architecture had a 64-bit instruction and used 16/24-bit fixed-point arithmetic. Existing 16-bit DSPs, from competition, were consuming more energy as they needed double precision arithmetic to get the accuracy required by the new application targeted (DIGITAL TV, DVD). 32-bit competing processing architectures were requiring more area and consuming more energy. Instead, ST's solution featured only 24 bits as it was the bit-depth for the MMDSP that matched perfectly with the required application accuracy. At that time, competing DSPs featured critical loops written in assembly. C compilers, by competitors, were not mature enough to be used to program those DSP architectures: therefore, assembly programming was widespread. In general, for competing DSPs, the computing architectures were defined first and then the compiler was developed consequently after the integrated circuit was fabricated.

Instead, ST innovated the development methodology by conceiving the hardware and the compiler at the same time ahead of chip fabrication. It engineered the hardware and the compiler to work simultaneously. In this way, ST was able to manufacture a DSP that was programmed exclusively in ANSI C with no need for assembly coding, thus leading to unprecedented software productivity and reduced development time, reducing the number of human resources needed for the application compared to the competition by orders of magnitude. That speed-up dramatically improved digital radio field testing and production.  

6) Benefits of the innovative solutions subject of the milestone

STA001 a) It was implemented in a one-chip solution for Satellite Radio RF frontend, without needing other chips or external components. b) Performed low noise, low phase noise and high signal dynamic (IIP3) operations. c) It was implemented in ST High Speed Bipolar process; it was a very cheap implementation using a low number of lithographic masks. d) STA001 application size was very small, with package size TQFP44 10x10.

STA002 a) Maximum flexibility and easy device programmability via standard I2C serial bus control interface. b) Fully programmable building blocks such as: Satellite QPSK demodulator; Time Division demultiplexer; Forward Error Correction; Broadcast Channel demultiplexer; Service Component extraction.

STA003 a) Easy device programmability via standard I2C serial bus control interface. b) Flexible approach for generating oversampling DAC clock using fractional PLL. c) Maximum flexibility for input bitstream using serial input interface.

7) Technical achievements of the proposed milestone

STA001 a) Feasibility of the single chip solution for Satellite Radio RF frontend, with all functions and features on the same die. b) Coexistence in a single chip of multiple synthesizers without interfering with each other’s and with a very high gain chain (120dB). c) Low phase noise operations were viable in a system built up with super integrated resonators, achieving high quality factor on the same silicon die.

STA002 a) Full VHDL design flow ensuring exhaustive system level simulation and fast design execution. b) Low power performance makes it suitable for battery operated receivers. c) Small board footprint thanks to the compact 10x10mm TQFP 44 pin package.

STA003 a) Full VHDL design flow ensuring exhaustive system level simulation and fast design execution. b) Fully programmed in C language allowing fast development and ROM code program fully validated through a C cycle accurate simulator before receiving the first samples out of the fab. c) Ultra Low power performances making STA003 suitable for battery operated receivers. d) Small board footprint thanks to the compact 10x10mm TQFP 44 pin package.

8) Historical background

Major societal needs

The United Nations, led by Kofi Annan, required technology providers to enable the broadcast of educational services to students and to diffuse teaching activities (e.g., tutorials, etc.) to prevent HIV transmission in under-developed countries (e.g., African countries, India). In most of these countries, the terrestrial infrastructure to broadcast radio services efficiently and reliably did not exist. It was deemed less expensive to launch a geostationary satellite to broadcast the educational channels rather than to build a terrestrial communication infrastructure. In this way, the educational services were reaching everyone equipped with an affordable, mobile radio receiver.


The Worldspace company responded to the UN call and set, being the first, a plan to provide a variety of high-quality educational audio services to students in 90s underdeveloped countries in the southern hemisphere and in rural areas of both Africa and Asia. That strongly mandated the availability of low-cost portable satellite radios for all concerned people.

Worldspace’s plan foresaw exclusive rights to the globally allocated spectrum for digital satellite radio. The broadcast footprint covered countries including India, China, Africa, the Middle East, and most of Western Europe. The target population was five billion people and more than 300 million automobiles.

Worldspace launched two satellites while a third satellite was launched later to cover America and set up ground uplink and downlink transmission dish infrastructure. By cooperating with Alcatel, it developed a satellite system to support these radio transmissions on geostationary orbits around the earth.

Unfortunately, the plan missed affordable radio receiver chips-based technology, making it impossible to start the educational services broadcast since no solution was ready to receive them and render the audio to the student audience.

Thanks to the research and development experience accumulated by ST in the years before and its silicon nodes (CMOS, RF, Bipolar) in-house enabling technologies, a cooperation framework was set in which ST capitalized its background developments into 3 chips (STA001, STA002, STA003) to enable OEMs to build the receiver system architecture and thus allow the reception of the Worldspace service. This leveraged the skills of: i) ST Agrate engineers on digital multimedia receiver system architectures; ii) ST Cornaredo engineers on radio baseband processing; iii) ST Catania engineers on satellite signal demodulation; iv) ST Grenoble engineers on DSP VLIW for efficient audio MP3 decoding.

Dr. Joseph Campanella was the chief technical officer of the project at Worldspace. Noah A. Samara was the Chairman & CEO of Worldspace. ST actively cooperated with them. Worldspace, thanks to a full end-to-end approach, got the support of the UN to provide the educational services required.

ST started to conceive the 3 chips in 1996. They were completed in 1997, and fully functional chips were achieved in just one year and ahead of the competition.

ST was essential to allow Worldspace to execute its plan to build the satellite digital radio receivers by OEM companies such as JVC, Sanyo, Hitachi, and Panasonic. Worldspace worked with Alcatel Space and Fraunhofer Institute (FhG) too. Worldspace satellites were designed by Matra Marconi Space and Alcatel Space and launched by Ariane vector.

Worldspace broadcasting services started in Africa on October 1st, 1999.  

Fraunhofer FHG

FHG invented the MP3 audio compression algorithm, later standardized by ISO/IEC SC29/WG11 and known as MPEG Layer 3. It was adopted as an audio compression scheme by the Worldspace service. At that time, MP3 had not yet been used in products as only MPEG Layer 1 and Layer 2 had been used for digital TV and DVD applications. Therefore, Worldspace was the first service to adopt MP3. No affordable decoders other than STA003 were yet available for adoption. MP3 was capable of data rate reduction of raw audio transmission. This audio encoder technology was meant to reduce the upload data rate of the Worldspace audio signal.

XM Radio, SIRIUS satellite and terrestrial systems

In the USA in the late 90s, there were no broadcasting stations covering all the USA territory. When traveling around the US by car or by truck, it was not possible to stay attached to the same radio service during the trip, and after 60 miles, the emitters were lost. This led to the creation of the XM radio company, which had the goal to cover all the USA with a mobile satellite radio by launching 2 geostationary satellites over the US: one over the east coast and the other over the west coast. SDARS (Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service) was a digital radio program service in the 2.3 GHz S band operated by Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio in the United States. In April 1997, the FCC granted Sirius and XM two SDARS licenses for the use of a portion of the S-band spectrum for the transmission of satellite radio signals. In July 2008, Sirius and XM officially merged as Sirius XM Radio.

Thanks to the maturity of the STA001/2/3 chipset for Worldspace services, ST was chosen by XM as the exclusive supplier of the radio chipset, while Agere chips were awarded by Sirius and later dismissed in favor of ST ones. STA001, STA002, and STA003 chips were widely utilized in the design of the XM chipset. XM Radio has been a great commercial success for many past years to date.

ST was able to outpace the competition in the market, and XM was able to launch the service in September 2001, while Sirius launched its radio service some months later in February 2002. XM organized a big show in Atlanta, USA, for the inauguration of the service. Unfortunately, the chosen date was Sept 12th, 2001, and due to the catastrophic event on 11th September, nobody could travel to the show, and the start of the service was delayed. On Wikipedia, it is written "On November 12, 2001, XM Satellite Radio officially launched its nationwide service."

Today, Sirius XM has approximately 34 million subscribers and is still a significant commercial success after more than 20 years of services in the field.

STMicroelectronics role

STMicroelectronics set up the Advanced System Technology (AST) organization in the early 90s to develop long-term innovative system silicon-based architectures to address new breakthrough products and opportunities by envisioning the analog to digital multimedia transition. The definition of system architectures allowed ST to devise and specify, thanks to in-house know-how and enabling CMOS, RF, and bipolar technologies, new integrated circuits to enable innovative digital multimedia broadcast services.

Since the 1960s, ST (which was the result of the SGS and Thomson Semiconductors merger) developed silicon processes and circuits based on bipolar, BiCMOS, and CMOS technologies developed in the Agrate Brianza, Cornaredo, Catania (Italy), and Grenoble (France) sites. These manufacturing technologies were instrumental in allowing ST system architects and design engineers to devise chips working on frequency spectrums required by satellite digital information transmissions. Moreover, the circuits were capable of processing analog and digital signals within low power constraints. Up to the 90s, ST accumulated significant results proven by many chip developments to address automotive car radio demodulation and baseband signal processing, GSM mobile cellular digital vocoding digital processing, and digital TV QPSK/BPSK, FEC, and Viterbi satellite transmissions by when the analog to digital multimedia entertainment transition happened.

In particular:

1) ST Agrate (Italy) engineers, via its own advanced system architecture group, had the competence to architect complex system receiver architectures since the mid-80s. Three chips were defined. 2) ST Catania (Italy) engineers had proven capabilities in chip design and manufacturing skills to develop radio frequency processing based on bipolar transistors. 3) ST Cornaredo (Italy) engineers had proven chip design and manufacturing capabilities for baseband chips for automotive car radio. 4) ST Grenoble (France) engineers had proven chip design and manufacturing capabilities, exploiting BiCMOS and CMOS-based technologies. They developed digital signal processors (DSP) based on a breakthrough low-power very long instruction word execution microarchitecture.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

1) Technical obstacles

Several technical problems were faced during these chips’ development. One was the definition of the right trade-off between cost and performance (sensitivity, power consumption) of the kit implementing the first satellite digital radio receiver. System specifications were not consolidated from day one, so they changed during development; the lack of tools for RF monolithic design was a big challenge, and it was overcome by implementing 7 different versions of the chip to shorten development time. Finally, the choice of pure bipolar technology to limit the costs was a compromise with available architectural and circuit solutions practicable with this technology. Most of the customers adopting this new system at that time were located in the Far East. The exchange of information during development was very discontinuous and mainly concentrated during travels done by change of development milestones.

2) Political and geographic obstacles

ST was not directly exposed to any political and geographic obstacles; political obstacles were faced by Worldspace services while, from the geographic standpoint, ST was aware that launching a service in Africa was difficult due to the low economic GDP of the population, the absence of electricity in all areas, etc.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The features of the 3 ICs are described below and represent the contributions with respect to the actual realization of the subject of the proposed milestone:

1. STA001: RF front end (FE) 2. STA002: channel decoder 3. STA003: source decoder

1) STA001

After considering different RF architectures, a superheterodyne architecture was devised. Since previous RF tuners were composed of discrete components, ST engineers in Catania made a courageous choice by addressing a complete integration of the RF FE. It included hand calculations in a feature-poor design kit environment specific for RF monolithic design, which did not exist or was incomplete at that time.

To minimize the risks associated with the full monolithic integration and minimize development timings with respect to the competition, 7 different versions of the RF FE were devised, integrated, and measured through test chips. Then one was chosen for production. Therefore, a low voltage RF receiver was devised containing all the building blocks with the RF signal going from the low noise amplifier (LNA) to the baseband buffer via interface to STA002.

Two phase-locked loops (PLLs) provided the RF and the intermediate frequency (IF) local oscillator signals and were designed on a single chip. Innovative solutions for critical blocks such as the LNA, the IF buffer, the Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO), etc., as well as new arrangements for bias circuits were devised, which greatly increased the circuit performance. Moreover, 2.4 V regulated power supplies with power-down capability were included. The receiver needed a small number of external components that were mainly the RF image filter and the surface acoustic wave (SAW) channel filter. It achieved a maximum gain of 120 dB and a noise figure of 5 dB. The internal regulators were set to 2.4V and ensured correct operation with an external power supply varying from 2.7 to 5.5 V.

The receiver was integrated into a high-performance 20-GHz silicon bipolar technology. Its die size was 18mm², and it needed a quiescent current of 75 mA. The RF FE was designed starting in late 1996 and was finalized in June 1997. The 1st sample was available in August 1997, while in the second part of 1997 some redesign was done: a) Cut 1.1 to match the phase noise specification of RF PLL (2 degrees by SSB integration from Carrier to 1.84MHz). b) Cut 2 to significantly decrease and optimize the power dissipation and to improve interferer performance. For XM radio, a dedicated tuner was subsequently derived, and the production of these chips continued after the merger between XM and Sirius.

2) STA002

This baseband processor included all the necessary blocks to decode the satellite signal provided by the RF tuner STA001. The analog-to-digital conversion was performed by the embedded 6-bit A/D converter feeding a fully programmable QPSK demodulator. The forward error correction section included the Viterbi decoder, the convolutional de-interleaver, and the Reed-Solomon decoder. Finally, the broadcast channel and the service components were extracted, and the MP3 audio bitstream was delivered to the serial audio output port.

The baseband decoder also implemented signal decryption to support Worldspace pay-per-listen services. Before starting the front-end design of STA002, C and COSSAP primitive models of the critical IP blocks were created. The full STA002 hierarchy and all IPs, including the device top level, were described in VHDL.

RTL design, code-level simulations, synthesis, gate-level simulations, timing closure, floorplan, and place and route were performed using Synopsys tools. The technology selected for the device was STMicroelectronics high-density CMOS 0.35µm 5 metal layers on 8” wafers produced in Crolles (France).

STA002 was probably the most advanced radio baseband decoder of the 90s; all device parameters could be easily configured by an external micro-controller via the dedicated I2C interface. The approach described resulted in very fast execution time: the IP modeling started in November 1996, the PG tape of STA002 was released in June 1997, and the first samples were available in September 1997. The chips were fully functional from the first version. The low power consumption was also an impressive result, especially considering that the target products were battery-operated portable receivers.

3) STA003

STA003 development was based on several milestones:

1) On November 29th, 1996, the floating-point model was available by ST. 2) On December 6th, 1996, the fixed-point model was available by ST. 3) On February 4th, 1997, the first MP3 MMDSP (multimedia digital signal processor) software was available and had been validated on existing AC3 devices by making a dedicated metal fix to change the ROM code. The metal fix PG tape was manufactured in February 1996, and the samples were available in April 1997. The Worldspace receiver was successfully using this cut. 4) The first Worldspace source decoder PG tape (the STA003) was launched in May 1997 in HCMOS6 technology (0.35 micron). 5) The first samples were available on August 29, 1997. 6) The production device required a small fix, and a cut 1.1 PG tape was launched on November 24th, 1997, and the samples were available on January 12, 1998, totally functional.

The STA003 device size was 24 mm² in ST 0.350µm CMOS technology, including 2.5 million transistors and 4Kx64 ROM program; Worldspace audio decoding required only 17 MIPS computational power. This led to very small power consumption, giving a big advantage for a portable radio powered by battery against the competition. STA003 was also a key enabler of emerging technologies aiming to replace CDs and minidisks. STMicroelectronics was ranked 1st worldwide IC provider of MP3 decoders in 2000 (Dataquest ranking). The ST device used in the MP3 decoder was the STA013 IC derived from STA003. Then the STA016 was used for MP3 CD car radios adopted in many car radios. The STA450 source decoder IC was used in the first XM car radio generation. Once again, the ST MMDSP was the key enabling programmable VLIW processing architecture of the source decoder architecture.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

1) Technical articles, conference papers & books

A) STA001 References:

a. G. Cali, G. Cantone, P. Filoramo, G. Sirna, P. Vita and G. Palmisano, "A high-performance Si-bipolar RF receiver for digital satellite radio," in IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, vol. 46, no. 12, pp. 2568-2576, Dec. 1998, doi: 10.1109/22.739249.

b. G. Cali, G. Cantone, P. Filoramo, G. Sirna, P. Vita and G. Palmisano, "A low voltage RF receiver for digital satellite radio," 1998 IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium Digest (Cat. No.98CH36192), Baltimore, MD, USA, 1998, pp. 349-352 vol.1, doi: 10.1109/MWSYM.1998.689390.

c. A low voltage RF receiver for digital satellite radio. Authors G. Cali, G. Cantone, P. Filoramo, G. Sirna, P. Vita, G. Palmisano; January 1998, Issue Complete Pages, p.301To – 304

d. G. Cali, P. Erratico, M. Gimignani and P. Vita, "A VLSI low power solution for mobile satellite radio receivers," Proceedings of the IEEE 1998 Custom Integrated Circuits Conference (Cat. No.98CH36143), Santa Clara, CA, USA, 1998, pp. 405-408, doi: 10.1109/CICC.1998.695007.

e. STA001 datasheet, multichip description of the 7 different versions of RF FE integrated in the 1st cut


f. STA001 data sheet - A redesign presentation, including cut1.1 and cut2 items Media:STA001redesign cut1.1 and cut2.pdf

g. USA Patents

       i.	6,093.981 Media:US6093981A1.pdf 
      ii.	US20020093380A1 Media:US20020093380A1.pdf

b) STA002 References

a. Patents

       Media:US5818854.pdf REED-SOLOMON DECODER

b. STA002 STARMAN CHANNEL DECODER Target Specification, Sept. 1997 SGS-Thomson Microelectronics


c. STV0196 datasheet


c) STA003 References

       a)	DAC 97, An Embedded System Case Study: The FirmWare Development Envirronement for a MultiMedia Audio Processor (C Liem, M Cornero, M. Santana, Pierre Paulin, Amhed Jerraya, JM Gentit, J Lopez, X Figari, L. Bergher)  
              Media:DAC97 Embedded System Case Study.pdf  
       b)	ICC97 Dolby AC3 and MPEG2 Audio Decoder IC with 6 Channel output (L. Bergher, J. Boehm, X Figari, JM Gentit, F Kazi, S Lecomte, J Spille, EF Schroeder, W Voessing, JM Zins) 
              Media:ICCE97 DOLBY AC-3 and MPEG2 Audio Decoder.pdf  
       c)	Patent 6681236 Method of performing operations with a variable arithmetic (David Jacquet, Pascal Fouilleul Filled on Dec 2000) 
              Media:Patent 6,681,236.pdf  
       d)	STA003 Datasheet
              Media:STA003 Layout.pdf  
              Media:STA003 Slide Layout 1997 August.pdf  
              Media:STA003T datasheet 2002.pdf  
              Media:STA013 Datasheet.pdf  
              Media:TPA NEW 1999 August STA013.pdf  
              Media:TPA NEWS 1999 MARCH STA013.pdf

2) Pictures

       a) Panasonic radio
       b)  3rd Worldspace Summit
       c)  OEM system

3) Media articles

              Media:Inside a WorldSpace satellite radio receiver.pdf
              Media:The Role of Satellites in Distance Education (Spring 2007).pdf
              Media:Under the Hood_ XM radio receiver makes waves - EE Times.pdf

4) Worldspace seminar

              a) S. J. Campamella, "Seminar on the worldspace satellite direct digital audio broadcast system," 
              IEE Colloquium on Communication Opportunities Offered by Advanced Satellite Systems 
              Day 1 (Ref. No. 1998/484), London, UK, 1998, pp. 4/1-4/34.
              b) IEEE Spectrum Digital radio takes to the road

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