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Marketwatch: International

Waves among the Windmills: EuMW 2012 Exhibition Wrap-up

November 5, 2012
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As a powerful autumn storm ravaged the east coast of the United States, delegates and exhibitors at European Microwave Week suffered little beyond the cold temperatures and occasional showers that typify Amsterdam weather in the last week of October. Inside the Amsterdam RAI convention center, over 250 exhibitors displayed their latest RF/microwave products since the last major industry event in June.  For folks who attend the European Microwave Week every year, this event offers a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues from the continent, exhibit and view the latest RF products targeting the European market and attend a technical conference organized by the European Microwave Association.

The split level exhibition hall was set up one day earlier than usual to accommodate a Wednesday finale, just in time for the November 1st European holiday. While not as large as the International Microwave Symposium (IMS) in North America, the EuMW exhibition is large enough to fill three full days worth of meetings and product demos.  The two events are similar in their make-up of exhibitors with leading RF semiconductor, component, EDA software and test and measurement manufacturers comprising the majority of vendors.

Integrated Device Manufacturers

RF semiconductor foundries and integrated device manufacturers were showing off their latest products and processes targeting commercial, defense and multi-market applications.  Analog Devices (ADI) introduced new family of microwave ICs including their new series of voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs) covering a frequency range from 3.5 GHz to 13.9 GHz with exceptional phase-noise performance, a wide frequency tuning range that can be optimized for power consumption, phase noise and power output. With reference design evaluation boards available comprising PLL, active loop filter, power management and microwave VCO, the new family fully complements ADI’s leading PLL synthesizer portfolio. The new ADF55xx VCO series debuts with six devices.

Cree made a splash at EuMW with the introduction of a new line of 50V GaN HEMT devices targeting telecommunication applications. Cree’s 50V GaN HEMT transistors operating at 100W or 200W output powers cover the 1.8 - 2.2 GHz and 2.5 - 2.7 GHz frequency bands. The devices are internally matched for optimum performance, enabling wide instantaneous bandwidths. Cree 50V GaN HEMT transistors are ideal for use in high efficiency Doherty power amplifiers where power gains higher than 18dB at 2.14 GHz and 16 dB at 2.6 GHz can be achieved respectively.  These higher efficiency power amplifiers can help OEMs save capital equipment costs through simplified cooling, and the higher voltage GaN components can lower the cost of AC-to-DC and DC-to-DC converters. Overall, the impact on the total bill of materials can be as much as 10 percent, leading to significantly lower system costs. Leveraging this new innovative Cree® technology, radio base station power amplifiers have demonstrated performance improvements of more than 20 percent over incumbent technology at 2.6 GHz operating under the latest 4G LTE signals.

TriQuint Semiconductor showcased 12 new products at the exhibition including a family of RF GPS diplexers with nearly three times size reduction compared to ceramic filter products,  four new packaged transistors and amplifiers based on gallium nitride (GaN) and four based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) technology. The products support a wide variety of commercial and defense applications such as emergency responder radios, electronic warfare, radar solutions and test equipment. TriQuint’s new GaN power transistors include the 28V T1G6003028-FS that operates from DC to 6 GHz and delivers 30W output power with efficiency of 55% at 3.5GHz and 44% at 6GHz. The T1G6003028-FL delivers the same performance and is offered in a flanged package to satisfy these assembly requirements. TriQuint’s new 32V T1G4003532-FS and the flanged-package T1G4003532-FL are ideal for S-band radar and similar applications. They deliver 37W (CW) output power from DC to 3.5 GHz. Both devices provide more than 16dB of gain at 3.5 GHz and 10dB of gain at 6 GHz; their power-added efficiency is 60% at 5 GHz and 49.6% at 6 GHz. All four new GaN transistors can withstand output impedance (VSWR) mismatches up to 10:1 without functional damage and are optimized for operation at high drain bias conditions, reducing system cost and thermal management overhead.

TriQuint also released a complete Ka-Band VSAT RF chipset that delivers cost-effective, high performance packaged convenience. The TGA4539-SM 1 W amplifier offers superior linearity and 20 percent lower power consumption. The TGC4407-SM upconverter combines a low power amplifier and mixer. The TGC4408-SM downconverter combines a VCO with LNA and mixer. The TGA4541-SM variable gain driver amplifier provides wide attenuation, high linearity and gain.

M/A-COM Technology Solutions was exhibiting their latest portfolio of new products for Networks, Aerospace and Defense, and Multi-Market applications including SmartSet chipsets for 18 and 23 GHz Point-to-Point radio applications , optical modulator drivers and trans-impedance amplifiers for 40/100G fiber networks, a 125 Watt switch limiter, an integrated 3-stage differential amplifier with voltage variable attenuator for EdgeQAM & Headend  and the industry first GaN transistors in low cost, high power plastic surface mount packaging.  

Released in July, these GaN in plastic devices were making their debut at a major microwave technology exhibition. Macom’s MAGX-000035-09000P is a wide band-gap enabled wideband Power Module based on the company’s GaN on SiC technology in a “TRUE SMT”TM plastic packaging technology.

The small 3x6 mm overall package can be mounted on a PCB using a via ground/thermal array in keeping with low cost manufacturing. Use of an internal stress buffer technology allows the die to be operated at up to 200 deg channel temps reliably. This 90W Pulsed Transistor operates from DC to 3.5 GHz targeting Pulsed RADAR, TDMA and UWB power amplifiers and high power Satcomm applications.

RFHIC was on hand to talk to customers about their product portfolio of GaN-based devices from discretes to integrated high power amplifiers targeting Base Stations, Repeaters, Cable Networks, LTE, WiMAX, UMTS, DTV, Radar, Medical, Military, and Test Equipments for infrastructure markets. The company was specifically showcasing their latest 200 watt X-band GaN power amplifier product and a new 1.5 Kw PA for civil aeronautics and Radar applications.

 Test & Measurement

Copper Mountain is an innovative company from Russia that offers ultra-compact test equipment that is impressive in its size and weight. The company’s PLANAR R54 is a Vector Reflectometer designed for S11 parameter measurement, providing magnitude and phase in frequencies between 85 MHz and 4.2 GHz with up to 10,0001 measurement points per sweep and 10 Hz resolution. Weighing only 8.8 oz, this 117x39x19 mm device is portable enough to be taken into any testing environment. PLANAR R54 provides a variety of analytical capabilities in the frequency and time domains and can be used to measure the magnitude and phase of reflection coefficient, cable loss, and DTF.

CETC 41 is the leading Chinese test and measurement manufacturer, making their debut at EuMW along with a number of Chinese manufacturers looking to market their products globally. The company was displaying its broad range of standard RF/microwave test equipment including VNAs, nonlinear VNAs, spectrum analyzers, generators and portable hand held analyzers.

National Instruments announced its new PXIe VNA, the PXIe-5632 VNA,  with frequency range covering 300 kHz to 8.5 GHz. Built on a dual-source architecture, the VNA has independently tuned sources and source access loops incorporating precision DC, high-speed analog and digital measurements, and more to cover a diverse set of measurement applications. Features Include:

  • Two-port, 3-slot PXI Express VNA with frequency coverage from 300 kHz to 8.5 GHz
  • Wide power range from -30dBm to +15dBm settable in 0.01dB steps for measuring compression and s-parameters of active devices
  • Dual-source architecture with source access loops for pulsed S-parameter measurements and extended source power range.
  • Frequency offset capability using independently tuned sources for measuring frequency translation devices and hot S-parameters
  • Industry-leading programming interface for NI LabVIEW, ANSI C and .NET for simplified programming and fast test development times while maintaining RF measurement quality

The company also released the NI 5791 RF transceiver adapter module for NI FlexRIO, which is currently being used in multiple cutting-edge research projects on 5G technologies. The module forms a powerful SDR solution when paired with an NI FlexRIO FPGA module for real-time, user-designed processing. Through triggering mechanisms provided by the PXI platform, users can synchronize eight or more transceivers for MIMO and beamforming configurations. The NI 5791 comes with extensive FPGA digital signal processing (DSP) libraries and example architectures for common signal processing applications.

 

In a well-timed announcement for European Microwave week, NI released news of their acquisition of NMDG, a company with more than 20 years of experience and technology in high-frequency stimulus-response and large-scale network analysis measurements. Located at the NI facility in Brussels, Belgium, this group will actively support NI partners and leading research groups, such as Cardiff University, who use the NI platform for non-linear network analysis and behavioral modeling. The NMDG acquisition is part of a continued NI vision to provide RF and microwave design engineers with access to NI technology from initial design through production test. In addition, NI announced a joint initiative with Cardiff University to develop advanced nonlinear network analysis systems. These systems combine NI PXI RF instrumentsand NI LabVIEWsoftware along with waveform engineering tools from Mesurofor dramatic improvements in measurement time compared to previous systems.

Speaking of Mesuro and nonlinear analysis, load pull and nonlinear device characterization test systems proliferated the exhibition floor with solutions from a number of manufacturers including Auriga Microwave, Amcad, Focus Microwave, Maury Microwave and Mesuro.

Maury Microwave was highlighting their MT98xML series LXI™-certified, two-carriage automated tuners, which are optimized for a broad class of in-fixture and on-wafer applications requiring simultaneous high-gamma and multiple-frequency tuning. Based on Maury's non-contacting probe technology, these high-performance tuners deliver high VSWR with superb accuracy and reliability. With a tuning resolution in excess of a million impedance points over the entire Smith chart, typical applications include load pull using CW and pulsed harmonic load pull for GaAs and GaN characterization, 2G/3G/4G base stations and mobile handsets, wireless connectivity (WiMax, WiBro, WLAN), Sat-Com, and other L/S/C/X/Ku/K-band applications.

 In addition, the company was demonstrating their MT930 IVCAD software suite, which offers advanced measurement and modeling software supporting multiple load pull techniques including traditional load pull using external instrumentation, VNA-based load pull, active load pull and hybrid load pull.

EDA Software

In addition to answering exhibit attendee questions in their booth, Ansys provided multiple educational opportunities in this year’s MicroApps. Application engineer, David Edgar, presented two talks highlighting the company’s focus on the latest capabilities of their high-performance EM tools to solve large scale and complex RF/microwave systems including the use of Ansys’ Hybrid IE Solvers for Efficient Simulation of Complex Systems and the use of HFSS with high-performance computing to solve large finite antenna arrays. Technical Director, Alain Michel, presented the company’s developments in integrating HFSS technology into the Cadence Virtuoso (ECAD) design flow to support 3D EM analysis in the RFIC design process. Michel also teamed up with technologists from Elliptika to discuss the capabilities of their joint instructional toolkit, which allows new engineers to develop their circuit design skills with ”quick and easy” PCB building blocks for prototyping along with analysis from Ansys simulation tools.

 The big news from AWR was the release of the company’s new Analyst product,  a full featured, 3D electromagnetic (EM) finite element method (FEM) simulator that is completely integrated into AWR’s Microwave Office circuit simulation environment. The ability to perform 3D EM analysis on interconnects commonly found within high-frequency MMICs, RFICs and MICs as well as packages, boards, and modules will benefit circuit designers who need to rely upon 3D FEM EM analysis for both the design and verification of their circuits prior to manufacture. It is now possible to seamlessly include 3D EM simulation in critical circuit simulations such as optimization, tuning, sensitivity, and yield analysis, and even non-linear circuit simulation using harmonic balance.

AWR also teamed up with Optenni Lab to develop and demonstrate an integrated workflow supporting wireless antenna design with optimized matching circuits that could  be transferred from Optenni Lab matching circuit software to AWR’s Microwave Office high-frequency design software with a single mouse click. The interface constructs the matching circuit in Microwave Office, sets up and runs the simulation, and then allows for further refinement and analysis within Microwave Office and AXIEM®, AWR’s 3D planar electromagnetic simulator.

Materials

Arlon makes specialty high performance laminate and prepreg materials for use in a wide variety of PCB applications that typically require laminates with specialized electrical, thermal, mechanical, or other performance characteristic that exceed those of traditional standard FR-4 materials. The company’s Microwave Materials specializes in fluoropolymers (i.e. PTFE), ceramic-filled fluoropolymers, and low loss ceramic hydrocarbon thermoset laminates that deliver the electrical performance for frequency-dependent circuit applications such as base station antennas, phased array radars, power amplifier boards, communications systems, and various other antenna applications.

Among the company’s products on display, Arlon featured several specific materials for this microwave audience including its copper-clad, cross-plied woven fiberglass / PTFE laminates with sequential layers of fabric cross-plied to ensure in-plane isotropy for applications requiring matched electrical properties in the X-Y plane, the IsoClad Series of non-woven glass / PTFE laminates that offer lower modulus permitting a more flexible thin laminate than is typical with a woven glass reinforced products, making this material excellent for formable/bendable antennas and the CLTE Series – woven-glass / PTFE / micro dispersed ceramic laminates with the highest Dk (2.94) and excellent stability vs. temperature, which is critical for Phase Sensitive Applications. The very low CTE values and dimensional stability makes it ideal for thin core, multi-layer boards used in avionics, Radars, EW, SIGINT, CNI (Communications, Navigation, Identification), and Phase Sensitive Filters.

Isola featured several products including their high reliability, lead-free compatible, standard loss product (185HR), I-Speed™, the company’s lead-free compatible, low-loss (Df 0.0065) laminate , I-Tera™, the very low-loss laminate (Df 0.0035) for high-speed digital, backplane and RF/microwave designs  and FR408HR, the high-performance, multifunctional resin system reinforced with E-glass fabric.

Rogers Corporation featured a wide range of high-performance circuit materials, including RT/duroid® 6035HTC laminates and 2929 bondply material. Their RT/duroid 6035HTC laminates are ceramic-filled PTFE composite materials suited for high power RF and microwave applications, including couplers, filters, power dividers/combiners, and power amplifiers. These high performance materials incorporate a unique filler material to achieve a relative dielectric constant of 3.5 in the z-axis at 10 GHz with extremely high thermal conductivity of 1.44 W/m-K. The high thermal conductivity, combined with a low loss tangent of 0.0013 at 10 GHz, enables circuit designers to optimize gain and efficiency in high-power amplifiers.

Also on display for customers was Rogers’ 2929 bondply material, an unreinforced thermoset resin based thin film adhesive system for constructing multilayer circuits. This is a low loss circuit adhesive, with a dielectric constant of 2.94 in the z-axis at 10 GHz and loss tangent of less than 0.003 in the z-axis at 10 GHz. The 2929 bondply materials are based on a proprietary cross-linking resin system and compatible with sequential bond processing techniques. They are also ideal for creating multilayer circuits with many of Rogers’ high performance PCB materials, including RO3000® and RO4000® laminates.

Connectors

Southwest Microwave was showing off many new innovative connector products featuring developments in miniaturization, custom applications, and mechanical design and manufacturing capabilities that enhanced connector performance and ruggedness/reliability.  One such product was a custom built keyed-connector technology that prevents field technicians from improperly configuring a network.  The company showed attendees latest their 1.85mm end launch connector, which is now offered with a 5 mil diameter launch pin. This high performing connector is designed to provide Low VSWR, wideband response up to 67 GHz for single-layer or multi-layer printed circuit boards where the microwave layer is on top. It is ideally suited for high frequency chip set evaluation/demo boards, test fixtures and board characterization. Also on display was their full range of precision Adapters, encompassing SMA, SMA to N, 2.92mm, 3.5mm to 2.40mm, 2.92mm to 2.40mm, SSMA to 2.40mm, and 2.40mm., plus unique 0.9mm to 1.85mm. These precision connectors offer near metrology grade performance and are ideally suited for applications requiring metrology type measurements where phase matching is not required. Each series is produced to the same electrical length. The company’s SMI adapters provide an economical lower cost solution for critical production and test requirements.

Recent Articles by David Vye, Microwave Journal Editor

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