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electronica 2006 upheld its reputation as the world's leading trade show for electronics when the fourteen halls of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre attracted a large international audience eager to discover the latest trends and developments. The biannual event took place between 14 and 17 November and occupied 152,000 m2 of floor space across the fourteen halls, with more than 3,000 exhibitors presenting their latest products and system solutions.
The event encompassed the full range of electronics components and systems currently available and under development, including semiconductors, power supplies, interconnection devices and test and measurement equipment. It also focused on emerging technologies and high-growth applications in the automotive, wireless, embedded systems and microtechnology and nanotechnology sectors by offering clusters within the trade show halls with dedicated exhibition areas including topic-oriented platforms for speaker presentations.
Headlines emanating from the electronica show floor included:
Agilent Technologies Inc. has signed an agreement to acquire Acqiris SA, a privately held company that provides high-speed digitisers and analysers used in the commercial, industrial and government electronics markets. Founded in 1998, Acqiris is based in Geneva, Switzerland, with a worldwide sales channel and all of its current 60 employees are expected to join Agilent. The transaction is subject to standard closing conditions and the financial details were not disclosed.
Acqiris’ products include a broad offering of digitisers, time-to-digital converters and waveform analysers with high resolution and high-speed performance. The company also offers software, integration and development support as well as long-term maintenance and support to help reduce time-to-market and to lower cost of ownership. The company’s focus has been on technological innovation, and it has pioneered a number of breakthroughs in the data acquisition and generation field.
“Acqiris’ expertise in high-speed digitisers and analysers builds on our current product portfolio and technical capabilities,” said Ron Nersesian, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Wireless Business Unit. “Their broad high-speed offering significantly contributes to our ability to meet the ongoing demand from our customers for in-product test to accelerate time-to-market and reduce cost. Acqiris’ digitisers strengthen our synthetic instrument offerings.”
In reply Viktor Hungerbuhler, Acqiris CEO commented, “This acquisition by Agilent is a key strategic decision that will allow Acqiris to expand our opportunities while strengthening our support to our existing customers.”
Speaking at the company’s annual press conference during electronica 2006 Dr. Wolfgang Ziebart president and CEO of Infineon, specified the company's medium-term objectives under the title — Focus on 10.
"In the medium term, we want to grow by at least 10 percent annually and we want to achieve an annually EBIT margin of at least 10 percent," said Ziebart. "From today's standpoint, these are ambitious goals. But we are convinced that we will be able to reach them." Regarding the recently started fiscal year 2006/2007 Ziebart announced: “In 2007, we will have completed the major restructuring work in the company and will leave the operational loss phase behind. Once these measures have been completed, we will have the basis for a sustainable growth strategy and profitability. As a result, we will concentrate our efforts on moving all our business units into the profit zone by the fourth quarter of this financial year at the very latest." He added, "For Wireless Communications, we hold to the statement that we aim to reach the break-even point in the fourth quarter of the calendar year."
He also stated that having carved out memory company Qimonda, Infineon will concentrate on three main fields of activity in the future: energy efficiency, mobility and connectivity, as well as safety and security. The company is already making significant contributions to these markets and has established good starting positions. Plans have been made to continue to expand these strengths and to consistently take advantage of all opportunities for future growth.
Ziebart added that the ‘new’ Infineon is now a company with sales of more than €4 billion, more than 29,000 employees. 6,000 employees work in the field of research and development, where the company invests approximately €800 million a year in research and development. More than 22,800 patents are convincing proof of the company's technological leadership.
Discera Inc., a leader in CMOS MEMS resonator technology and provider of next-generation timing solutions, and Vectron International, producer of innovative frequency control and timing solutions, announced that they will work together to make MEMS oscillators a reality for electronics manufacturers.
This collaboration addresses the fact that CMOS MEMS-based resonators are a disruptive technology that enables electronics companies to remove scalability and cost obstacles that face customers. MEMS technology overcomes some of these existing challenges while opening the door to tomorrow’s previously impossible applications through microfabrication technology.
The companies believe that MEMS can revolutionize nearly every product category by bringing together silicon-based microelectronics with micromachining technology. By using CMOS MEMS oscillators, manufacturers of consumer electronics, hard disc drives, and other devices will realize a number of benefits including reduced footprint requirements, shorter lead times, robust construction, and lower power. Additionally the technology can be advanced to support high precision applications.
Numerous companies working in the RF & Microwave sector targeted the show for new product introductions. Following is a selection of new products showcased to provide a flavour of the diversity and variety that electronica 2006 offered its visitors. It is impossible to mention them all here and apologies to any company not represented.
One large hall was dedicated to test and measurement, housing the big names such as Agilent, Anritsu, Ansoft, Rhode & Schwarz, Tektronix, etc alongside a good cross section of medium to small enterprises.
On its home turf Rohde & Schwarz was proactive. In addressing the next mobile radio generation the company presented first solutions for analyzing and generating UMTS LTE signals by using its FSQ high-end spectrum analyzer and the SMU200A signal generators. The new FMU36 baseband analyzer is aimed at chipset development for mobile phones and base stations. With a frequency range up to 36 MHz it performs the measurement ahead of the RF signal and measures the I/Q signals in the baseband. For low-frequency applications such as radio transmission via RFID or measurements on ADSL modems, the instrument features high sensitivity even at very low frequencies. The baseband analyzer combines all functions in one instrument and runs without an external PC and for use in measurement systems, it can be remote-controlled via GPIB or LAN.
The company is also expanding its product range of USB-capable power sensors with the introduction of the NRP-Z81, which has a frequency range from 50 MHz to 18 GHz. For the first time, RF detector, analogue and digital signal processing as well as the entire scoring logic of a high-performance measurement instrument are combined in a compact measuring head that can be directly remote-controlled via USB. By featuring a video broadband of up to 30 MHz and a rise time of 13 ns, the instrument allows high-resolution envelope analyses.
Agilent Technologies used the event to announce the launch a variety of new products, with the focus being on its low-cost solutions, particularly the worldwide availability of the N9310A RF signal generator. The compact instrument covers ranges from 9 kHz to 3 GHz and the full range of modulation types, including AM, FM, phase modulation, pulse modulations and an optional IQ modulator. With external IQ source, it can easily generate various types including I/Q modulated signals such as GSM, CDMA and OFDM signals as seen in modern digital communications systems. User friendly features include a multiple language display, 6.5 inch TFT colour screen and USB connectivity.
The company also made new low cost introductions in the high speed, high volume USB data acquisition sector, offering a high sampling rate of up to 3 Msa/s for a single channel. The U2300A Series USB modular multifunction DAQ device uses the common, non-proprietary standard interface that provides ease of connectivity. When used with the new U2700A Series USB modular instrument chassis, this DAQ system provides more channels for today’s various measurement needs.
Significant new wireless test capabilities have been added to the Aeroflex PXI 3000 Series modular wireless test platform to now include support for WiMAX, OFDMA, 1xEvDO and HSUPA. The modular RF test systems now allow testing of cellular, WLAN and WiMAX in one product. First, the WiMAX Measurement Suite expands upon the capability of the 3030 Series PXI RF digitizer family to perform WiMAX PHY OFDMA device testing of power, spectrum and modulation measurements in accordance with IEEE 802.16e. Second, the CDMA2000 measurement suite has been upgraded to include support for 1xEvDO reverse link measurements. Together with a 3030 Series PXI RF digitizer, they enable the precision characterisation of both CDMA2000 rev C and 1xEvDO rev 0 reverse link transmissions. Third, the UMTS Uplink Measurement Suite adds the capability to perform analysis of power, spectrum and modulation for 3GPP rel 6 HS-DPCCH and Enhanced Physical Channels.
A smaller company but with a big announcement was Pendulum Instruments (Incorporating XL Microwave), which introduced the CNT-90XL family of 27 to 60 GHz Microwave Counters. The range is claimed to offer the highest resolution and measurement speed available on the market, with the measurement speed for power and frequency up to 250,000 frequency samples/s. The graphical display shows frequency changes over time directly on-screen, for analysis of e.g. FM or AM, power or frequency switching, VCO settling and post-tuning drift, etc. Built-in statistical processing presents numerical stability data and also frequency distribution histograms on-screen for analysis of frequency or power stability or modulation. Applications include microwave link carrier calibration, satellite communication equipment testing, radar system testing, YIG and VCO testing, RF and microwave instrumentation calibration and RF components and modules testing.
Another prolific area of the show related to interconnect technology with such names as Huber + Suhner, IMS Connectors, Radiall, Rosenberger and Spectrum to name but a few. For Huber + Suhner the highlight was the launch of the first waterproof QMA connector optimised for applications up to 6 GHz and a minimum of 100 cycles. With an IP 68 waterproof rating it features the Quick-Lock locking mechanism, allows 360° rotation and small dimensions. It supports all radio frequency connections and has been designed for users who need fast and space-saving connections in outdoor applications such as wireless communications and transmission systems, portable radio systems, air traffic control and monitoring systems and assemblies for mobile radio base stations. Also showcased was the company’s SMART QUICK-FIT connector series for 7/8 inch and ½ inch corrugated foam dielectric cables that are said to bring an innovative mechanical solution to the design of high performance RF connectors for the termination of corrugated copper feeder cables.
Radiall previewed the Moebius Switching connector prior to its launch in January 2007. It provides high durability as well as retention – no external retention system is required for it to stay connected – and has been developed as the first coaxial connector to be manipulated by the user as a USB plug would be, without the fear of damage. It operates at DC to 6 GHz for 25,000 life cycles. The range includes: straight and right angle plugs for 2 mm 50/s cable, straight and right angle plugs for 2.6 mm 50/s cable, an edge card receptacle and a switching edge card receptacle with typical applications being for PCMCIA Cards, Express Cards and handheld GPS for car navigation.
The company announced the release of new RF Power switching connectors that are surface/edge mounted. This ‘two in one’ solution replaces existing standard RF switches by integrating the switch function into a connector receptacle. It optimizes packaging density, simplifies the printed circuit board layout and reduces the overall cost of ownership. Also, the R3C automotive connectors are one step crimping connectors that are fully stamped and formed contacts crimped on standard reel automatic machines.
A new miniature RF-switch series was the star of the show for IMS Connector Systems. The compact design and robust construction make the 3926 test switch and the 3976 external antenna switch suitable for a broad range of applications up to 6 GHz, with the latter guaranteeing 10,000 mating cycles. The test switch is compatible with MuRata´s MM 8430-2600B switch PCB layout. Excellent guiding features and an innovative locking mechanism facilitate easy handling and make tests with the test switch and the utilisation of the antenna switch in applications such as car cradles easy and reliable. Also on show was the company’s range of small right angle SMD antenna switches. They offer reversible polarity for flexible pcb layout, guarantee a minimum of 5,000 mating cycles and can be used for all cellular frequencies such as GSM, DCS, PCS, UMTS and CDMA.
Making a ‘new’ name for itself in the semiconductor solutions sector is Avago Technologies, which launched several new products. Of particular interest is the small, ultra-slim (1.95 mm by 18.5 mm diameter) AMRX-1500 scrollwheel input device for mobile phones and portable audio and video devices, which combines a scrollwheel with tactile left, right, up and down navigation switches and a centre ‘select’ button. It incorporates the company’s patented reflective optical technology that detects the direction and speed of the rotational movement of the rotary dial. This input device solution simplifies continuous scrolling and navigation of long lists or menus with the use of only one hand.
The first samples of the new ARF44 modem module from Adeunis-RF were shown. Based on Texas Instrument’s ultra low power MSP430 MCU and CC1100 low power wireless transceiver, it is an 868 MHz modem module that addresses demands for reduced space, low power consumption and ease of integration. The ARF44 module enables a two way digital link over a range of up to 300 m and can address most applications that require short range communication.
electronica is a truly global event and numerous US companies exhibited. Teledyne Relays took the opportunity to introduce its new Series CCR 33K miniature coaxial switch, designed to switch a microwave signal from a common input to either of two outputs and operating at frequencies from DC to 33.5 GHz. The latching single-pole, double-throw (SPDT) electromechanical switch offers an insertion loss repeatability of ±0.1dB across the full bandwidth. On narrow band applications, the insertion loss repeatability can be as good as ±0.05 dB with ultra low passive intermodulation. Switch life is characterized at 5 million cycles.
Vectron International introduced its C4550 oven controlled crystal oscillator (OCXO) in a lower cost, 25 mm by 25 mm package with a low profile packaged TO-8 crystal for better aging, g-sensitivity and temperature test performance. It has an available frequency range of 5 MHz to 100 MHz and temperature stabilities down to 5 ppb from -40 °C to 85 °C. The proven performance of the TO-8 crystal achieves typical aging rates of 30 ppb/year and g-sensitivities less than 1ppb/g. Another new solution showcased was the C4700 low profile double oven crystal oscillator. With a height of 17 mm and an available frequency range of 4 MHz to 15 MHz, it is targeted for the stringent frequency stability requirements needed for CDMA and UMTS applications, and is also RoHS lead-free compliant.
TriQuint Semiconductor introduced the first three members of its Multi-Function Circuit (MFC) family. These high performance GaAs ICs for point-to-point radio and satellite communications address OEM needs for frequency upconversion in the transmit and local oscillator chains. The TGC4405 provides a high level of integration for designs that specify RF upconversion, a local oscillator frequency doubler and output RF signal amplification in a small, single product. The TGC4402 was created for designs that require upconversion without an integral LO doubler or output amplifier, while the TGC4403 is a millimetre wave frequency doubler that includes an output buffer amplifier. Both the TGC4405 and TG4402 employ single-ended designs and therefore don’t require external baluns. The company also introduced a GaAs Bluetooth power amplifier designed to enable designers to achieve high efficiency and low power enhanced data rate v2.0 Class 1 operation while offering 50 percent power added efficiency for longer mobile device battery life.
Once again electronica has demonstrated why it becomes the focus of the electronics industry every two years and earned its place as the leading trade show in the sector.