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New This Week: TriQuint, Skyworks Power iPhone 5

December 20, 2010
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The Asian Pacific Microwave Conference (APMC) held this month in Yokohama Japan, is a yearly technical symposium that travels to various host locations throughout Asia. With international support from organizations such as the IEEE MTT-S, EuMA and IEEE AP-S, this conference is very much like the IMS in spirit and content. For instance, at this year’s APMC, the technical program held sessions on high power amplifier modeling and design, wide bandgap semiconductor devices, electromagnetic meta-materials, RF MEMS, channel modeling and short-range wireless communications. All these topics would be right at home at the MTT-S IMS or RWS (Radio and Wireless Symposium).

Also taking place at the same time and location was the annual Microwave Workshop and Exhibition – MWE 2010. Whenever the APMC takes place in Japan (every four years or so), the conference enjoys the benefits of a world-class exhibition. Attendees are able to take a break from the technical program and visit the commercial side of the industry in order to learn about the latest applied technologies and solutions. In turn, exhibitors benefit from the expanded audience made possible by the conference. And so, I had the privilege of taking a rather long flight with our publisher, Carl Sheffres to visit both the conference and exhibition and get a feel for the state of the industry in Japan and greater Asia. More than 400 microwave-related companies from all over the world were exhibiting their latest products. Various technical seminars were also available at the special seminar rooms provided in the back of the exhibition hall.

On Wednesday, we met with Guochun Liang (GC), President and CEO of Pivotone. Pivotone may be a relatively new company to MWJ readers. This China-based manufacturer of microwave components (waveguide hybrid combiners, duplexers, filters, tower mount amplifiers, filters, etc.) targets the communications and satellite markets. Pivotone is a well-organized and focused company, which I suspect we will hear a lot from in the future. For now I recommend readers check out their R&D and manufacturing capabilities on their website at www.pivotone.com

I spent some time talking with the folks at Focus Microwave who had shipped out a substantial amount of test equipment and load pull systems to the show. To demonstrate their ability to work with all (or most) test equipment vendors, Focus had load-pull set-ups operational with VNA’s from Agilent, Anritsu, Rohde & Schwarz, plus analyzers from Tektronix and the time-domain load-pull characterization system from VTD (SWAP-X402 ). This demo showed the real-time dynamic load line of an RF power FET under test changing with a manually operated Focus load-pull tuner. This is quite an improvement over the days when the only real-time information available during tuning was the output power. This system combined bench-top tuning and diagnostics all rolled into one.

R&K Microwave was exhibiting their amplifier and mixer products and participated in the exhibition’s seminar by holding a talk on "The Practicalities of RF Ultra Wideband Power Combiner". R&K Microwave was showing off their new Ultra broadband (2.5 to 6.0 GHz) 25W GaN amplifier, programmable step attenuators and solutions for automotive EMC test instruments.

A number of companies were showing off their GaN technology including Toshiba, indicating that they would be pushing their GaN HEMT products up in frequency, (we may see a 20 W Ka-band device this spring at MTT). GaN technology provides superior device performance such as high gain and efficiency in the SATCOM and RADAR markets. Toshiba is exploring new markets for this technology and will continue its efforts to develop additional GaN devices in C-, Ku and other bands with higher output power.

Sumitomo is another big GaN player from Japan. I sat down with Dr. Yoshio Aoki, Assistant General Manager of the Networks Products Unit. We discussed the company’s GaN HEMT products for BTS applications with currently over 700,000 products shipped. Their second generation products of internally matched GaN HEMTs are based on a wide band tunable design optimized for Doherty amplifier configurations addressing 3 GPP radio frequency bands (1.8 to 2.2 GHz) with the 2.1 GHz Device EGN21C16012D and (2.3 to 2.7 GHz) with the 2.6 Ghz devices (EGN26C105|2D, EGN26C160|2D and EGN26C210|2D)) . In addition to the wireless market, the company is targeting L and S-band radar applications with its GaN HEMTS and amplifier pallets. Their GaN pallet amplifier – EMC2933L4011R operates from 2.9 to 3.3 GHz with typical output power of 500 W and 50% PAE. The company is also looking to address millimeter-wave applications, with an eye on automotive radar (see paper presented at EuMW) and 6 to 40 GHz radio links.

RFHIC is another provider of GaN based amplifiers having formed a strategic partnership with Cree, the company offers hybrid and pallet modules as well as GaN TR assembly support. Specifically the company is targeting multi-band radios, jammer and phase array radars on the defense side and base stations, remote radio heads and repeater applications on the telecom side. Through their catalog parts and joint developments with customers, the company is projecting sales of 300,000 hybrids/pallets in 2011. Dr. Samuel Cho, specifically pointed out a new 2.1 Ghz, 10 W amplifier module for W-CDMA applications with >45 dB gain and 40% efficiency. This 3 stage power amplifier (3rd stage is a balanced amplifier) module includes outputs for power management and a built-in circulator for amplifier protection from load mismatch.

Mitsubishi had a half dozen product lines and technologies on display. The company was spotlighting their high power klystrons, which produce up to 50 megawatts output power at S- and C-bands. The special design maximizes emission efficiency at the electron gun and heat efficiency at the collector for the most compact configuration. By operating at lower temperatures, the klystrons feature long life and high reliability. The company was showing off its solid state power devices with its line of Silicon (SiMOS) RF devices for Radio communication networks including telematics for automobiles as well as their line of GaAs internally matched FET PAs for W-CDMA and WiMAX/WiFI applications. Also of particular noteworthiness on display with Mitsubishi was a 2 Watt GaN HEMT with 60% PAE at 3.7 to 4.2 GHz.

Another interesting application that Mitsubishi was showing off, was the use of microwaves to detect icy road conditions. A surface condition sensing system includes a frequency controlled source of electromagnetic power adapted to produce a band of selected frequencies which are directed to a surface under examination. A monitoring circuit compares transmitted and reflected electromagnetic power as a function of frequency from the surface, and generates a plurality of absorption signals representing the difference between the amplitude of the transmitted signal with the corresponding amplitude of the reflected signal. An evaluator circuit generates a surface condition signal representing the results of a comparison between the plurality of absorption signals with known surface models. A control circuit generates a status signal representative of the surface condition. The system can be configured as a road condition sensor or as an aircraft ice detection sensor.

I met the Manager of MITS Electronics, Takao Iijima. MITS offers precision milling machine for PCB prototyping. Quite impressively, this company’s machines are capable of milling with 0.1mm precision. The photo below illustrates the fine lines and gaps that can be fabricated with this level of precision. http://www.mits.co.jp/index.htm

Tecdia is a Japanese based Microwave company established in the mid-70’s, providing advanced high frequency electronic element manufacturing technologies to produce high-performance Regular and Ultra Hi-K single-layer chip capacitors, and thin film circuit substrates. The company also designs and manufactures bias-Tees and DC power boards.

The test & measurement world was well represented by the usual major players such as Agilent, Rohde & Schwarz and Anritsu. In addition, Avantest, which is a Japanese-based test instrument provider, was in attendance, not surprisingly. Avantest was showing off its line of spectrum analyzers Their U3741 is a 3GHz portable spectrum analyzer that precisely meets demand from device manufacturers for measuring instruments that are smaller and lighter, so that they may be transported outside the factory, to any location where maintenance and testing work needs to be done. Operating from 9Khz to 3GHz, with resolution bandwidths from 100 HZ to 1MHz and a noise level of -135 dBm (center freq 1GHz), the analyzer offers fast measurements using high-speed processing in a compact and light design.

Chuck Ulland, VP of Sales & Marketing for NEL Frequency Control, Inc. made the trip out to Yokohama to show off his company’s line of ultra low phase noise OCXO. These crystal oscillators operate over a wide frequency range, up to 2.5 GHz with a 5 to 10 dB improvement in phase noise over other crystals. For more information see - NEL OCXO Info .

Also representing the component side was Alan Melnyk, the AR Worldwide regional sales manager for the pacific rim walked me through the company’s offering of hybrid amplifier modules, which were introduced back in 2009, but seem to be picking up traction this year. The broadband hybrid amplifiers employ plated-through-hole (PTH) technology for reliable interconnections between circuit layers, as well as proven air-bridge technology for low-loss connections between active devices and circuit traces. The HPMs, which are designed for mounting on external heat sinks, borrow sound thermal practices from the company’s larger (and lowerfrequency) EMI/EMC power amplifiers. The rugged hybrid amplifiers are hermetically sealed and constructed to meet the demands of military applications but fit within the cost constraints of most broadband commercial applications, including communications systems and test equipment. All of the new HPMs are supplied with field-replaceable RF input and output (SMA female) connectors. Of course, this show being in Japan, home to several major automobile manufacturers, AR also had some EMC solutions on display as well as their HPMs.

I also had the pleasure of meeting W.K Moon, President and CEO of AWT Co., Ltd. This Korean company was showing of an expandable PIMD Analyzer used to estimate and analyze the IMD characteristics of passive components such as antennas, RF connectors, cables, power dividers/couplers, filter, duplexers, etc. The AWT stand seemed quite busy, so the topic of PIM measurements is surely a growing concern.

In the end it was a robust and informative show, with a number of US and European based companies (Ansoft, Sonnet, LPKF and AWR among them) mixed in with the Japanese home teams. The MWE attracts microwave and EMC companies from across the spectrum in test & measurement, active devices (lots of GaN and GaAs), EDA, manufacturing ( LTCC, prototyping, etc.) and plumbing. All the major Japanese Semiconductor vendors were there and while the event is not as big as IMS or EuMW, I give the host country high marks for their courtesy, warmth and killer sushi. ありがとう (Arigato)

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