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Software & CAD / Test and Measurement

News Wrap Up - Week of Sept 29

Summary of the RF/Microwave news items for the week of Sept 29

October 3, 2008
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The news items for the week of Sept 29 were dominated by test and measurement as WiMAX World took place in Chicago. The show was busy but did not seem to have as much activity as last year as the WiMAX buzz has diminished a little with some struggling implementations and LTE coming on strong. But there are still many rollouts being planned and executed so it could heat up again with some successful implementations. I think they both have their place in the wireless market and will each find their appropriate niches in new implementations.

Recapping the news highlights starting with test and measurement

Agilent Technologies Inc. announced the industry's first Digital Radio Frequency (DigRF) V4 test solution. It enables comprehensive stimulus and analysis for developers of radio-frequency integrated circuits (RF-IC) and baseband ICs (BB-IC) as well as integrators of wireless handsets.

DigRF V4, driven by the MIPI (Mobile Industry Processor Interface) Alliance, is a high-speed digital serial bus between mobile baseband and RF chips that is a key enabling technology for LTE and WiMAX.


Agilent Technologies introduced the FieldFox handheld RF analyzer www.agilent.com/find/fieldfox -- the world's most integrated handheld instrument for wireless network installation and maintenance (I&M). FieldFox improves RF field engineers' and technicians' productivity to perform base station I&M more efficiently and accurately.

Key measurements include cable and antenna test from 2 MHz to 4/6 GHz, spectrum analysis from 100 kHz to 4/6 GHz, vector network analysis, and true average power measurements. The Agilent FieldFox handheld RF analyzer is the first and only RF tool for base station I&M that is calibration-ready at the test port. It combines multiple RF measurement capabilities in one rugged, compact and lightweight package and can tackle complex wireless networks with test times that are more than 50 percent faster than traditional testers.

Agilent Technologies also announced the new PXB MIMO Receiver Tester for quicker, more accurate test of Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) receivers earlier in the design cycle. Providing the best simulation of real-world conditions available on the market today, the PXB significantly reduces development cycle time. The new instrument transforms MIMO test with its ability to minimize design uncertainty and equipment and lab setup time while maximizing the performance and scalability needed to meet future test needs. Such capabilities make the new PXB MIMO Receiver Tester ideal for R&D engineers developing and integrating MIMO receivers for 3GPP LTE, WiMAX(tm) and emerging wireless standards.

In addition, Agilent Technologies and Altair Semiconductor today announced they will collaborate to accelerate the development of Mobile WiMAX devices. The companies plan to optimize the calibration and verification of Altair's Mobile WiMAX chipset using Agilent's Wireless Networking Test Set. As a result, handheld-device manufacturers implementing Altair's Mobile WiMAX chipset will be able to quickly and efficiently test and verify their Mobile WiMAX devices.

Anritsu Co. introduces the Bit Master™ MP1026B Eye Pattern Analyzer that allows engineers to conduct highly accurate eye pattern measurements for data rates from 0.1 to 12.5 Gbps. Typically half the price of a high-speed sampling oscilloscope, the MP1026B supports popular OC-192/STM-64 SONET/SDH, 10G Fibre Channel, and 10G Ethernet systems at the physical layer, and can verify the performance of high-speed circuits, transceivers and transponders, as well as network equipment.

Developed to address the deployment of high-speed networks, the MP1026B can be equipped with a fully internal optical receiver for measuring fiber signals up to 12.5 Gbps, making it well suited for Network Equipment Manufacturer (NEM) applications. The MP1026B also features an automated mask margin tool that calculates percent margin while verifying mask compliance to industry standards. Percent margin is a valuable metric that allows users to quickly identify unit-to-unit variations that may impact quality, repeatability, and performance of components, devices, and equipment.

Tektronix Inc., a provider of test, measurement and monitoring instrumentation, announced availability of the first published test procedures for physical layer testing of the Serial ATA Revision 3.0 standard. Tektronix provides a comprehensive high speed serial data test suite for the SATA physical layer design and debug. Complete Methods of Implementation (MOI) for SATA Gen1 and Gen2 standards as well as the new test guide for Serial ATA Revision 3.0 can be viewed at www.tektronix.com/sata.

The third generation specification for the Serial ATA storage interface will double the maximum transfer speed from 3 Gb/s to 6 Gb/s, paving the way to higher performance storage solutions including emerging solid-state drives and enterprise business storage needs. SATA 6 Gb/s technology will enable large amounts of data to be moved at even faster rates, a key advantage as end-users amass ever-increasing amounts of high-resolution photos, videos, music and other multimedia files. The new industry standard will enhance the appeal of the high performance, low cost interface, solidifying its prevalence as a long-term storage interface for the digital world.

EB, a global technology leader in test tools for measuring, modeling and emulating radio channel environments, today announces a new radio channel emulation platform that exceeds the performance requirements for WiMAX, LTE and 4G testing to ensure that end users have the best possible wireless connection. EB Propsim F8, the first product based on the new platform, takes emulator performance to the highest level ever through complete channel emulation for any existing and future wireless system making it ideal for chipset vendors, handset makers, base station developers and carriers.

Here are the highlights of the other product release/announcementss

Agilent Technologies Inc. introduced an EDA signal integrity circuit simulator for multigigabit, high-speed data link design. The Transient-Convolution Simulator -- part of Agilent’s Advanced Design System (ADS) EDA software platform -- achieves a three-fold simulation speed improvement for signal integrity simulations.

The Transient-Convolution Simulator combines the ADS High Frequency SPICE, Convolution Simulator and related modules. Multicore processor support and a new, high-capacity sparse matrix solver allow signal integrity designers to perform fast “what-if” analyses to arrive at the best possible designs.

AWR®, an innovation leader in high frequency electronic design automation (EDA), released Version 2008 of its Analog Office design environment targeted for Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) design. Version 2008 includes hundreds of enhancements to the user interface and design flow that dramatically increase user flexibility and productivity.

The user interface of AWR tools is widely recognized as extremely easy to use, and the enhancements within Version 2008 place it even farther ahead of its competitors. For example, features such as project, elements, layout tabs, and the status window are now dockable and floatable, providing a design environment that is fully configurable to suit personal preferences. This new flexibility streamlines design tasks to save time, maximize useable screen space, provide greater insight into the design, and allow more complex designs to be handled more quickly.

Nitronex, a leader in gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) RF power transistors for the wireless infrastructure, broadband and military markets, has expanded the performance data of its 28 V, 5 W class high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) to include frequencies between 5.1 to 5.2 GHz and 5.7 to 5.8 GHz. Designated the NPTB00004, it achieves 27 dBm (400 mW) average output power at 2 percent EVM in 5.2 GHz WiMAX systems, and 28 dBm (630 mW) average output power at 2 percent EVM in 5.8 GHz WiMAX systems (single carrier OFDM, 64-QAM ¾, 8 burst, 20 ms frame, 15 ms frame data, 3.5 MHz channel bandwidth, peak/avg = 10.3 dB).

Analog Devices Inc., a leader in semiconductors for signal processing applications, introduced a pair of clock-generation and distribution ICs with the industry’s best combination of device integration, low noise, low jitter performance and signal output flexibility. The AD9520 and AD9522 multi-output clock generators include a 512-byte embedded EEPROM memory block, affording system engineers a programmable clock solution that can serve as both the source and system clock. By programming their own specific set of output conditions using the on-chip memory, designers can easily configure the AD9520/2 as the source clock to ensure initial processing functions are synchronized when the system is powered on or reset. Competing clock ICs require a separate source clock, which must be independently matched to the system processor or microcontroller in order to program the system clock chip, adding component count, cost and complexity to network line cards, wireless and broadband infrastructure, medical imaging, and data converter clocking designs.

Pulse, a Technitrol Company, an electronic component and subassembly designer and manufacturer, introduces the W3011 surface-mount ceramic GPS antenna, a small GPS antenna and high-performing antenna. This antenna has the ideal size and efficiency requirements for use in mobile phones, navigation systems, small portable GPS receivers like PDAs and PNDs, and surveillance, timing, and other devices that need to access satellite GPS signals.

The size of the W3011 is only 3.2 (w) x 1.6 (l) x 1.1 (h) millimeters (mm), and it weighs just 0.033 grams, yet has an efficiency of 80 percent with an operating temperature of -40° to +85° C. Ground clearance area is 4 x 4.25 mm. The antenna can handle frequencies of 1575.42 ±10 MHz. It has linear polarization and is immune to the detuning effect caused by a user’s hand or body. Return loss is a minimum of minus 12 decibels (dB) on band edges.

Andrew, the CommScope Inc. division that is a leader in communications products and systems, has introduced HELIAX® 2.0, a complete cable and connector family for wireless networks, which offers operators and OEMs new RF transmission line options under a trusted brand. Andrew is the first transmission line supplier to offer customers a complete solution for their RF transmission line needs, consisting of two complete cable lines with one connector series that fits either. Both cable types are available as feeders in a complete range of diameters or as cable assemblies.

Unique to Andrew’s HELIAX 2.0 is the company’s offering of a single, multi-faceted connector, the EZfit® Series universal connector, for two prominent products—HELIAX FXL Series aluminum cables and HELIAX AVA Series copper cables. Both cables have proven track records in helping limit intermodulation distortion (IMD), the unwanted noise that weakens a radio network’s performance, and meet different customer application needs. With one connector that works on both cables, customers can avoid inventory confusion and deployment delays.

RFCONNEXT Inc. has been established to provide new interconnect products and services for the high speed digital and RF/microwave/optical communication systems. The company has developed PMTL™, a new patent pending, transmission line technology, for high speed interconnect and packaging of devices and systems. The initial PMTL™ uflex cables provide stable phase, group delay and impedance, with low insertion loss and extremely low cross talk, under bending, twisting, and mechanical distress, from DC to 50 GHz, and scalable to work to 220 GHz and beyond.

And finally, A Couple of interesting industry reports were released by SA:

Strategy Analytics released results from its annual industry surveys rating GaAs bulk and epitaxial wafer suppliers. “GaAs Bulk and Epitaxial Wafer Vendor Ratings and Customer Satisfaction 2007” concludes that no one GaAs epitaxial substrate supplier was rated highly enough to be able to satisfy both the technical and commercial requirements of end users. On the GaAs bulk substrate front, end users continued to express high levels of satisfaction with three major vendors for both technical and commercial vendors.

VPEC, Kopin and IQE lead GaAs epitaxial wafer customer satisfaction on price, lead time, delivery and responsiveness to complaints. Meanwhile, Hitachi Cable had the highest satisfaction rating for technical parameters especially those related to wafer and lot uniformity.

Strategy Analytics’ also released its latest analysis on base station component demand, “Cellular Base Station RF Component Market 2008-2013,” forecasts that cellular base station shipments will grow to 13.4 million units in 2013, a compound annual average growth rate (CAAGR) of over 69 percent. However, while base station shipments will grow, the corresponding market for RF components will remain flat at $1.1 B through 2013.

The migration to 3G+ (third generation plus) and 4G (fourth generation) networks will also drive a move toward smaller form factors as operators look to reuse existing sites and infill capacity with smaller base stations. The penetration of micro base stations will increase to 29 percent through 2013, but the largest growth in shipments will come from picocell and femtocell shipments.

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