It was anything but a quiet news week as the financial markets continued to rollercoaster from the fallout of the sub-prime mortgage market, credit crunch and debate in Washington over the proposed $700 billion financial industry bailout. Fear that the economy will seize up would certainly impact many Microwave Companies' ability to borrow money to invest in research, expand their production or make strategic acquisitions. Still news rolled in as companies continued to release new products, form partnerships and win contracts

EDA News

I had the pleasure of attending two EDA vendor workshops this week. The first was on Monday at the Synopsys' User Group. Apparently, this was among the few times that the press has been invited. I assume the exception was made this time, so that Journalist could be on hand for the announcement of a new custom analog IC implementation tool, the first new significant entry into this market, long dominated by Cadence Virtuoso.

The new product, Galaxy Custom Designer includes a complete (integrated) schematic, layout and simulation environment designed for complex analog/mixed-signal IC design.

The software, which was introduced by Aart de Geus, chairman and CEO of Synopsys in his keynote address is the first-ever implementation solution built natively on the OpenAccess database for legacy designs as well as a new componentized infrastructure offering unprecedented openness and interoperability with process design kits (PDKs) from leading foundries.

Aart, who is a very engaging speaker, stated “Our customers have long requested a modern alternative to the custom design solutions currently on the market, by starting with a state-of-the-art, open architecture and tightly coupling it to the Galaxy Design Platform as well as our analog/mixed-signal verification and IP solutions, Synopsys aims to do for custom design what we have done for digital implementation.”

The second workshop that I attended was the ANSYS/Ansoft “Inspiring Engineering” event also held in Newton, MA. Dr. Lawrence Williams was the keynote speaker here and he is also an excellent speaker. This was the first workshop (these have been annual events for over 10 years) held in the Boston area since the acquisition of Ansoft by ANSYS and Larry gave a wonderful, concise talk on the two company’s synergy, devotion to basic research and outlook for the future.

Both companies are dedicated to simulation software, freeing engineers from the lengthy build and test prototype design cycle (ANSYS is focused on mechanical, thermal and fluids engineering, Ansoft is focused on electromagnetics). Together, the joint company will fill out its product portfolio nicely for the age of multi-physical design, share technology –especially in the area of finite element meshing and will leverage their individual sales/support strength in North America, Asia and Europe for a more even global presence. ANSYS is very strong in Europe, Ansoft is so in Asia).

In other EDA news, Agilent announced the release of the HiSIM_HV Model Extraction Package for advanced high voltage metal oxide semiconductor (HVMOS) device models. The package, for use with Agilent’s Integrated Circuit Characterization and Analysis Program (IC-CAP) software platform, provides an easy-to-use, efficient and customizable method for measuring and extracting accurate parameter values for the HiSIM_HV device model.

The HiSIM_HV device model, developed by Hiroshima University in Japan, is an industry-standard model for HVMOS devices used in a wide range of consumer products such as flat-panel display drivers, automotive electronics, RF power amplifiers, switches and power management applications. Earlier compact models, such as the BSIM4, were primarily developed for traditional symmetrical low-voltage complementary metal oxide semiconductor CMOS devices for digital applications. The HiSIM_HV model was designed for both symmetrical HVMOS and for asymmetrical laterally diffused MOS (LDMOS) devices used in RF power applications.

The HiSIM_HV model is based on the HiSIM2.4 compact device model for bulk CMOS devices. Unlike earlier compact CMOS models, both HiSIM models calculate current and charges based on the internal surface potential, for more accurate, smoother and continuous results. Continuous derivatives are essential for accurate RF modeling of intermodulation and power performance. The HiSIM_HV model includes other typical high-voltage effects such as modeling drift region resistance, quasi-saturation effects and self-heating effects.

Semiconductor News

RFMD announced it has captured design wins on more than 10 upcoming Samsung 3G handsets, supporting Samsung's anticipated growth in 3G handset sales. The company was selected by Samsung to supply Wideband CDMA/High Speed Packet Access (WCDMA/HSPA) power amplifiers (PA) and EDGE PAs into a growing range of 3G handsets. New phones include the SGH-L700, the SGH-L770 and the SGH-G400. The sleek SGH-L700 slider phone features a music player, FM radio, streaming Bluetooth® audio, a 2-megapixel camera and a separate, dedicated camera for video conferencing. The feature-rich SGH-G400 features Bluetooth 2.0, a 2.2" 262K color screen, a microSD expansion slot and a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus. The new phones represent a significant expansion of RFMD's 3G shipments to Samsung. RFMD began volume shipments into Samsung 3G handsets in the June 2008 quarter, with the launch of the highly acclaimed SGH-U900 Ultra Edition III SOUL handset. Based upon current customer forecasts, RFMD anticipates volume shipments to commence in the December 2008 quarter and accelerate into calendar 2009.

Inphi Corp. announced the successful interoperability demonstration of its market leading 40G DQPSK modulator driver with Sierra Monolithics (SMI), a leader in 40 Gbps SerDes, multiplexer and clock multiplier unit (MUX/CMU). The result of this demonstration is the industry’s first reference design, which enables systems designers to develop next-generation 40G DQPSK optical communications systems rapidly.

DQPSK is an important modulation scheme for next-generation 40G optical transport systems. In 40G DQPSK transmission, two 20G NRZ electrical signals are optically modulated onto a single DQPSK optical bit stream at a rate of two bits per symbol. Thus, 40G DQPSK transmission occurs at one-half the symbol rates of a conventional NRZ modulation format, making it extremely resilient to impairments encountered in older fiber. System designers have demonstrated the effectiveness of 40G DQPSK systems for years, but until now, the components required to develop commercial systems have not been available.

Inphi, a market leader in 40G transimpedance amplifiers and a supplier of modulator drivers, announced the high performing differential modulator driver to the market, the 2514DZ, in January of this year. Already, this advanced solution is being used worldwide by more than 10 top tier OEMs and module vendors developing next-generation 40G and 100G optical communications solutions. Fabless semiconductor company Lime Microsystems has joined the Femto Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide. The Forum promotes the adoption of femtocell technologies through open standards, market education and ecosystem development.

Lime Microsystems’ technology is ideally suited to femtocells as its reconfigurable multi-band multi-standard transceiver allows a femtocell to be reconfigured quickly and simply, cutting cost and inventory for OEMs.

According to Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum, “The femtocell industry is going through an exciting period as operators prepare for deployments. Critical to this success is the development of advanced silicon that is appropriate for the needs of femtocells,” Lime Microsystems will immediately participate in two of the Forum's working groups: the Marketing and Promotion working group and the Radio and Physical Layer working group. The Marketing and Promotion group looks at how the industry should best position femtocells within the industry and to the wider public, build usage cases, agree common terminology and manage any potential concerns. The Radio and Physical Layer group is developing standardised RF interfaces, clarifying the various capability classes of femtocell and examining interactions with outdoor cells.

The working groups' mission is to ensure the rapid and effective deployment of femtocells to support a wide variety of customer propositions and operator business models. Lime Microsystems announced first silicon in April 2008. The company’s unique transceiver design can be digitally configured to operate in any required frequency band between 375 MHz and 4 GHz, with 16 user-selectable bandwidths up to 28 MHz. This means it can transmit and receive data across all WiMAX bands (including those used in different geographical areas), as well as those used for W-CDMA and HSPA, and those that are planned for LTE. This removes the need for individual transceiver chips for each of the different bands, and allows a femtocell to be reconfigured rapidly and simply.

We will hear some more about femotcells next month in a special online exclusive from Anadigics, so please keep your eyes out for that one.

Test & measurement provider, Tektronix announced that PulseCore Semiconductor has successfully used a full suite of Tektronix test instrumentation to test and validate its recently announced USB 2.0 integrated circuit (IC). The new PulseCore IC is the first in the industry to use spread spectrum clocking (SSC) to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) while achieving USB 2.0 industry compliance.

For measuring USB 2.0 compliance and signal integrity, PulseCore combined a DPO7104 oscilloscope with the TDSUSB2 software option, a TDSUSBF test fixture and a P7350A 6 GHz differential active probe. For measuring on-cable and radiated USB 2.0 EMI power reduction, PulseCore also used a RSA6114A Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer (RTSA) with DPX™ Live RF display. DPX waveform image-processing technology provides a live RF view of the spectrum that reveals previously unseen RF signals and signal anomalies.

And OEwaves Inc. was awarded a contract by UCLA to develop a wideband, high dynamic range EO resonator modulator prototype that is highly sensitive and small in size, weight and power (SWAP), ideal for high performance receiver front-end applications. OEwaves will prototype the EO resonator modulator and integrate it with an all-dielectric antenna for the radio front-end. The UCLA ADNERF effort is part of the DARPA Electro-Magnetic Pulse Tolerant Microwave Receiver Front-end (EMPIRE) program.

OEwaves’ micro-resonator technology is a critical element in the highly sensitive non-electronic receiver front-end architecture required by advanced radar and defense communication systems against intense electromagnetic radiation. The EO modulator is based on the patented technology of crystalline whispering gallery mode (WGM) optical resonators.

Mobile Infrastructure News

ABI Research ranked Ericsson as the top vendor of worldwide mobile network infrastructure with Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent taking the second and third spots, respectively. The ranking is based on a “Vendor Matrix”, which is an analytical tool developed by ABI Research to provide a clear understanding of vendors’ positions in specific markets. Vendors are assessed on the important parameters of “innovation” and “implementation” across several criteria unique to each vendor matrix.

Ericsson is a global leader in GSM and HSPA infrastructure sales and deployments,” says senior analyst Nadine Manjaro. “The company leads in managed services, commercial IMS deployments and other key areas. It has developed innovations in base station technology, and the company invests about $5 B annually in R&D.”

Runner-up Nokia Siemens Networks has a diverse product range and geographically distributed revenues. The firm has strong product portfolio, and has also achieved significant innovations in its I-HSPA platform and Flexi-base station product lines. Alcatel-Lucent is ranked third overall. The company is third in overall revenue, second in IMS and has a strong managed services segment with over 23,000 employees.

For this particular matrix, under "innovation," ABI Research examined 2007 R&D spending, the number of employees assigned to R&D, the number of submitted and approved patents, and the firms’ contribution to standards development. Additional criteria included innovations in the development of energy optimized solutions, the vendors’ low CO2 emission products, and their development of alternative energy and multi-technology solutions, and the development and distribution of a 4G solutions.

Under "implementation," ABI Research scrutinized the following criteria: overall revenue, gross margins, product diversity, revenue distribution by geography, managed services, number of Tier 1 operator customers, and shipments and sales.

On the infrastructure maintenance front, Anritsu Co. announced enhancements to its Site Master™ family that continue to position the handheld analyzers as the de facto instruments for deploying, installing and maintaining wireless networks. The new enhancements, which are also available in the Cell Master™ handheld base station analyzer, include a 30 percent improvement in sweep speed, optical Distance-To-Fault (DTF) measurement capability, advanced post analysis tools, and a ruggedized phase stable cable with reinforced handgrip.

Improved firmware now allows users to make cable and antenna sweeps 30 percent faster, for more efficient field operations. Complementing the improved speed is the high accuracy of the analyzers, which eliminates costly “false fails” and increases the confidence in measurements.

Anritsu has also developed tools designed to improve time efficiencies after measurements have been taken. Enhancements to the Master Software Tools greatly simplify and expedite cable and antenna post-sweep analysis. A new Trace Rename feature enables users to rename hundreds of traces in minutes rather than hours. Additionally, a Group Edit function can take markers and limit lines from a single trace and copy them to hundreds of other traces in seconds.