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Industry News

IEEE MTT-S IMS2011: Busy in Baltimore

August 8, 2011
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The energy and activity levels of a large crowd are hard to quantify, but by the accounts of most observers, there was plenty of both at the International Microwave Symposium 2011 in Baltimore, MD, June 5-10. Event managers said the official attendance was more than 8600 participants. This number is larger than the previous year in Anaheim, CA. "Final attendance was actually 7981 after all the numbers were in…lower than the preliminary estimate of 9500," IMS2010 organizers reported.


This year, technical registration was 2491 and preliminary exhibit-only registration numbers showed 1882 participants. These numbers combined and subtracted from the total indicates that the exhibition staff itself probably accounted for about half of all the attendees. If the health of the industry is based on the number of companies in attendance, this year showed impressive growth with 601 individual exhibiting companies compared to 556 companies in 2010. If you did not submit an accepted technical paper to the conference or you were assigned to work in your company's booth or you traveled to the show at your own expense or your company's expense in the past few years, then you may be wondering what kind of companies are representing the industry these days at IMS.

This year, the Journal produced a series of Microwave Flash Focus: IMS Exhibitor Preview newsletters to help attendees get a jump on what they would see in Baltimore. We divided this list of exhibitors (select advertisers from our May IMS show issue) into several major product categories, namely Components, Semiconductors, Subassemblies/Materials, Cables/Connectors and Test Equipment/Design Software. These are the bulk of companies at IMS. The companies that are missing from IMS are the major commercial and defense system integrators and consumer electronics giants – Raytheon, BAE, Lockheed Martin, Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, etc. Those companies are to be found at shows such as MILCOM, CTIA, Mobile World Congress or electronica. IMS is a completely different show – for and about microwave semiconductors and components.

Test equipment and design software vendors sell the bulk of their RF products to all other categories represented in the MWJ exhibitor preview list, so they are generally among the largest exhibitors (based on booth size and staffing). Year after year, semiconductor vendors also tend to make their presence known with the largest booths and staff on the exhibition floor. The remaining small to mid-size companies, those that design and manufacture passive components, materials, cables, connectors, subassemblies and related services, make up the bulk of the exhibition floor space. This is the fabric (and strength) of our industry, an impressive number of innovators and entrepreneurs developing new and creative solutions – forming start-ups, growing organically or through mergers and acquisitions, being acquired and/or spun-off.

In our annual wrap-up article of past IMS exhibitions, we attempted to summarize the major product news. As the show and the number of exhibitors and released products have grown, this task is becoming increasingly challenging to do in a single article. Our main coverage is now addressed online (www.mwjournal.com/ims2011), with show related articles, product releases, news, Twitter feed, videos, pictures and through our Microwave Flash: IMS Show Daily newsletter. This article will instead focus on industry trends and offer data and perspectives on the conference and exhibition.

Conferences

IMS or Microwave Week actually combines three conferences (IMS, RFIC and ARFTG). The technical program is comprised of more than 165 technical sessions, workshops and panel sessions covering wireless communication, radar, RF technologies, high frequency semiconductors and electromagnetics for a variety of commercial and military applications.

The IMS2011 Technical Program Committee, under the leadership of TPC Chair Ramesh Gupta, increased the number of IMS2011 topic areas from 31 to 35, dividing the conference into four focus tracks including: 1. Microwave Fields and Circuit Techniques 2. Passive RF and Microwave Components 3. Active RF Components and Systems and 4. RF Microwave Systems and Applications. New topics in current technical areas, such as RFID Technologies, Industrial Applications of High Power Microwaves, RF Nanotechnologies, and Emerging Technologies, were added to the program.

This year, the steering committee implemented a "double-blind" review process for submitted papers, meaning that the authors' names and affiliations were kept from reviewers. This new policy was designed to eliminate any conflicts of interest or bias in the review process. It is unclear if the policy had an impact on the quality of the chosen papers, although there was a sizeable increase this year. The Technical Paper Review Committee selected 444 papers out of 841 submitted, with 348 podium presented papers and 96 interactive forum papers. In addition, the program was supplemented by 33 workshops, six short courses, four panel sessions, one rump session and seven student design competitions, plus a graduate student challenge. By comparison, the 2010 IMS program included 250 technical papers presented orally and 122 papers presented in an interactive forum, so there was a net gain in presented material this year (444 vs. 372). Altogether, the conferences were well attended (2491) however, they were somewhat
down from the numbers reported in 2010 (2793). This could be a reflection of tighter travel budgets more than a reflection on the technical program itself.

Company and Product Highlights

The acquisitions of AWR and Phase Matrix by National Instruments, API Technologies' acquisition of Spectrum Control and Skyworks' acquisition of SiGe and Advanced Analogic Technologies in the weeks before IMS, created a pre-show buzz for the industry and no doubt attracted the media and attendees to visit these exhibitors. A number of companies announced interesting milestones, expanded product lines and portfolios via press releases and booth demos throughout the week including:

  • MMICs, RFICs and Discrete Semiconductors from RFMD (Narrowband VCOs, VCAs, GaN devices/foundry processes), OMMIC (10 new MMICS), UMS (X-band chip set, GaN power transistors), Hittite (33 new products), Skyworks (low power LNAs), Avago (mobile FEMs), TriQuint (base station RFICs, K-band amps), M/A-COM Tech (50 new products including high power GaN devices), NXP (GaN and LDMOS transistors and related products, RF DACs), Peregrine (digitally tuned capacitors, UltraCMOS™ switches), ADI (differential RF/IF amp, RF driver amps), Cree (GaN PAs), Aeroflex-Metelics (100 W SP3T switches), Freescale (77 GHz chip sets, improved LDMOS), Infineon (LDMOS, LNA modules for GPS/GLNOSS), Mitsubishi (GaN Amps), Ciao Wireless (ultra low noise amps), Endwave (mixers and upconverters), Linear Technology (RF mixers), Murata (Bluetooth FEMs), APA Wireless (VCOs), Valpey Fisher (Hi-Rel/COTS oscillators, passive CMOS discretes), and TowerJazz (SOI switch process).
  • Components from K&L (low PIM filters), Synergy (wideband, low noise VCOs), AVX (High Q inductors), MDL (WR90 rotary joints), Sangshin (WiMAX filter), IMS (thin film attenuators, couplers, chip resistors), RLC (adjustable delay lines), Florida RF (high power terminations), Gowanda (conical inductors), Reactel (discrete filters), AMC (switch matrix), Anaren (new Xinger), Crystek (SAW bandpass filters), JFW (variable attenuators), AML (GaN amps), and Crane (switch matrix, POL converters, filters, MultiMix Technology).
  • Cables and Connectors from W. L. Gore (18 GHz rugged cable assembly), P1dB (coax adaptors), Delta (cable assemblies), Corning Gilbert (push-on connector), Frontlynk (cables up to 110 GHz), GigaLane (SMA type switch), San-tron (eSeries connectors), Rosenberger (high density interconnects), Southwest Microwave (miniature treaded coupling coax assemblies), SPINNER (rotary joints, calibration kits), Times (TFlex cable), and TRU (high performance connectors).
  • Materials and PCB Processing from Rogers (RT/duroid 6035HTC, RO4360), Dielectric Labs (high Q substrates), A.T. Wall (waveguide tubing), Laser Services (cutting EMI/bonding materials), T-Tech (mill path generation), LPKF (laser PCB prototyping), UltraSource (prototyping software), Arlon (ceramic-filled composite materials), RJR Polymers (liquid crystal polymer packages), Transline (fusion bonding of PTFE), and Westbond (bonders of all types).
  • Subassemblies, Modules from Pascall (low noise sources), Telemakus (mm-wave synthesized source), EM Power (GaN amp modules), Herotek (harmonic generators), IMST (FRAC-N synthesizer), Power Module Technology (SSPAs), Scintera (linearizer modules), Micro Lambda (synthesizers), Mini-Circuits (you name it, they have it), Phase Matrix (high performance synthesizers), Teledyne MEC (new SSPA line).
  • Test Equipment from Agilent (ENA/PNA network analyzers,) Aeroflex (SGA signal generators for avionics, LTE digital radio test set), Anritsu (broadband VNA, DRM test for LMR Master), NMDG (DC pulsers, pulsed DC receivers), Hittite (20 GHz signal genrerators), AMCAD (load-pull), Holzworth (non-PLL synthesizers), Planar LLC (vector reflectometer), Tektronix (signal analyzers, AWGs), Heuermann and Rosenberger (full vector PIM tester), Rohde & Schwarz (two new VNAs), Wireless Telecom Group (Amplifier Test bench software), Maury (noise measurement, load-pull), Modelithics (X-parameter measurement services), and SPEAG (SEMCAD X Microwave).
  • Design Software from Agilent (EMPro, SystemVue), CST (HPC to Studio 2011), Sonnet (v13), AWR (2011 Design suite), ANSYS (HFSS/Designer updates), Remcom (EM software), SPEAG (SEMCAD X), Integrated (CHRONOS), Mician (μWave Wizard), and MIG (WASP-NET).

For detailed product news go to www.mwjournal.com/ims2011.

Other highlights from the Exhibition

Over the past few years, organizers and several key exhibitors have been giving the MicroApps sessions a "facelift" in order to draw larger crowds, thus making them more attractive to potential participants. MicroApps are generally mini-tutorials on a variety of applications. The short talks (typically 20 minutes) are reviewed and approved by the MicroApps steering committee (made up of IMS volunteers) and representatives from the exhibitor community. This event-within-an-event takes place in a sectioned off area of the exhibition floor with speaker presenting to an audience seated in an area for up to 100 attendees. This year, the event was sponsored by Agilent, with additional support (distribution of program CDs) from AWR and organizers from K&L Microwave. The Journal also participated as the organizer of the MicroApps keynote panel on Wednesday. The Nonlinear Characterization Forum drew a standing-room only crowd and had more than 200 people off-site jo in via a webinar simulcast.

Other show floor attractions included a grand prize award ceremony for NXP's first high performance RF design challenge, on-site training courses at Sonnet and CST (with bonus massage station), design demonstrations for the new digitally tunable capacitors at Peregrine, the many partnering companies on display along Agilent Avenue, and Cobham displaying its Ku-band UAS (drone) lightweight gimbal assembly. One hidden jewel was wearable antennas by Octane Wireless that fit about any form factor using flexible antenna technology. Another jewel was DaisyRF's wireless portable power meters featuring a wireless interface between the remote power meter and handheld display unit. With more than 600 exhibitors, it has become impossible to see them all, especially if one gets into a deep technical discussion. It was precisely the kind of engagement a trade show like the IMS exhibition was designed to be.

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