Bridging Gaps — the theme for European Microwave Week 2008 — commemorated the integration of four focused conferences (EuMC, EuMIC, EuWiT and EuRAD) and the microwave industry exhibition while paying homage to this year’s host city, Amsterdam with its network of canals and bridges. The entire event was organized by the European Microwave Association (EuMA) and Horizon House (Microwave Journal’s parent company) with support from IET and co-sponsorship by the MTT-S and GAAS organizations. The number of conference delegates exceeded 1,400 while the number of exhibitors was well over the 200 mark, including French, German and Dutch pavilions as well as a publisher’s corner.

Visiting Amsterdam

Unfortunately, the weather was rather damp and cold throughout most of the week, which may have kept attendees from wondering beyond the conference center at the RAI. Amsterdam is a wonderful city to roam with its narrow streets, canals, incredible 17th century architecture, museums and cafes. The city is also well-known for its hedonistic side with plenty of coffeehouses (selling legalized drugs) and red light district. Both of these institutions seem to be part of the late night sightseeing tour, as the streets and alleys are crowded with people taking in the spectacle.

Getting to Amsterdam is relatively straight-forward due to the world-class Schiphol Airport. Many US flights go directly to this European entry point and I imagine most European attendees also found it to be an easy trip. Transportation around the city is an efficient mix of trams, bikes (by the thousands) and pedestrians. There are of course cars, but the non-native who is not paying attention is very likely to be run down by a bike. This week, the locals proved that bike riding is a year-round event no matter what the weather.

The Conferences

Integrating four separate, yet interrelated conferences is undoubtedly no easy task; however the folks at EuMA pulled it off with a well-organized schedule of technical sessions. The Microwave Integrated Circuits (EuMIC) and Wireless Technology (EuWiT) Conferences shared the early part of the week with both conferences plenary sessions taking place on Monday along with their poster session and the majority of their forty minute talks. These presentations covered a range of topics including CMOS, GaN and GaAs related talks (MMICs, transceiver blocks, mixed-signal ICs, power amplifiers, device modeling, SDR and millimeter-wave ICs).

The Microwave Circuits (EuMC) conference began on Tuesday with their poster session, joint plenary session with EuMW and shared talks with both EuWiT and EuMIC. The EuWiT and EuMIC then closed their conferences Tuesday afternoon with concurrent plenary closing sessions, which occurred as the EuMC offered talks in filters, MEMs, RFID, array antennas and other topics got underway. By Tuesday morning, the exhibition had begun and those who were not attending the EuMC/EuMW talks were able to get an early glance at what vendors from the industry had to show for products and services.

Those attending the morning sessions were treated to the stuff near and dear to the mobile handset designer’s heart including talks on high efficiency power amplifiers, tunable filters, linear and non-linear CAD techniques, hybrid and multi-chip modules and MIMO. Also presented were talks on RFID and millimeter-wave front-end modules. The early afternoon mini-symposium “Bridging Gaps” was well attended, as traffic on the trade show floor seemed quieter during this time. This only delayed the peak exhibition traffic from the first day to the second and most exhibitors seemed happy to have a steady flow of visitors over two relatively active days versus a feast then famine scenario.

The EuMC on Wednesday continued the poster session from Tuesday. The talks on this day were more general microwave circuit design-oriented, including passive components such as filters, couplers and interconnect technology as well as active circuits, hybrids and metamaterials. Longer sessions sponsored by EuMIC and EuWiT were dedicated to reconfigurable RF systems, software defined radio (SDR), SATCOM and mobile communications/intelligent transportation systems.

Thursday was a big day for the Radar conference (EuRAD) with their plenary session, poster and interactive poster sessions and talks sponsored by the radar conference or jointly with one of the other conferences. These talks included radar topics such as FMCW, synthetic aperture, UWB, polarimetric radar, antennas and arrays, wave propagation and scattering, UAV SAR systems and sub-mm wave imaging.

The Exhibitor Workshops

This program seemed to work quite well with a number of participating exhibitors. The range of offerings was extensive including Ansoft which offered valuable product training sessions on their products – HFSS, Ansoft Designer and Nexxim; Agilent offered a seminar on LTE – from Concepts to simulations among several topics; AWR with hands-on training, a workshop on 3D EM field solver EMPIRE from IMST; Keithley gave a workshop on MIMO; Rohde & Schwarz presented a number of topics from MIMO, LTE to basic measurements such as phase noise and TriQuint which was offering a free one-hour sub-set of their week long GaAs Class. The full list of workshops is available at the EuMW web site

The Exhibitors

All press releases are available at

Integrated Device Manufacturers

A number of IDMs had new products to talk about at the EuMW exhibition. An emphasis on integration, miniaturization and higher performance was common to many of the new products which addressed applications from CATV, point-to-point radios, cellular infrastructure, multi-band wireless devices and defense applications.

Analog Devices introduced the ADL5386, a broadband I/Q quadrature modulator with integrated automatic gain control (AGC) circuitry. Integrating these functions into a single compact 6×6 mm LFCSP (lead-frame chip-scale package) will help reduce component counts for designers of low intermediate frequency (IF) and radio frequency (RF) transmitters within broadband wireless access systems, microwave radio links, cable modem termination systems and cellular infrastructure equipment.

Hittite Microwave introduced two new additions to its medium power amplifier product line. These GaAs PHEMT MMIC amplifiers provide frequency coverage in the 5 to 18 GHz and 34 to 42 GHz bands, and are ideal for use in a wide range of applications including point-to-point and point-to-multipoint radios, VSAT, military and space, fiber optics, sensors, and test instrumentation.

Hittite has also introduced two new additions to its variable gain amplifier (VGA) product line, the HMC694 and HMC694LP4E. These VGAs can be used in applications where accurate signal level control and high linearity is required, including point-to-point and point-to-multipoint radio, EW, ECM, radar and test equipment within the 6 to 17 GHz frequency range.

Mimix Broadband Inc. introduces a GaAs MMIC distributed amplifier with 15 dB gain, 22.5 dBm P1dB at 22 GHz, and 4.5 dB noise figure at 26 GHz. This distributed amplifier, identified as XD1008-BD, covers 30 kHz to 40 GHz and includes surface passivation to protect and provide a rugged part with backside via holes and gold metallization to allow either a conductive epoxy or eutectic solder die attach process. The XD1008-BD is ideal for microwave, millimeter-wave, military, wideband and instrumentation applications.

The company also introduced a 5 V InGaP HBT amplifier that combines medium power and high gain with low power consumption. This multi-purpose amplifier, identified as CGB8001-SC, consumes 100 mA of current and covers DC to 2.8 GHz frequency bands with 27 dBm P1dB and 15.5 dB gain at 2.1 GHz. This versatile, medium power amplifier is suitable for high linearity transmit, receive and IF applications, including CATV, 3G, WiBro and WiMAX.

M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc. announced new products including families of Power Amplifiers, Voltage-controlled Oscillators and Driver Amplifiers, as well as a broadband Voltage Variable Attenuator, all of which are on display. Their emphasis was on their Point-to-Point product line, which enabled superior performance for a wide range of microwave radios.

OMMIC introduced a new 6-bit phase shifter MMIC with a LSB of 5.625° that covers the band 8 to 12 GHz for applications which include Weather and Military Radars, Satellite Communications and Phased Array Applications. The CGY2172XUH phase shifter has an insertion loss of 8 dB with a RMS phase error of only 2° at 10 GHz and excellent input and output matching of –17 dB. The attenuation error with phase setting is extremely low and does not exceed a maximum peak value of 0.25 dB. The MMIC is available with either a TTL/CMOS compatible interface (0/5 V) or direct drive of the phase shifter (0/-3 V).

RFMD announced the addition of four new broadband GaAs PHEMT amplifier integrated circuits (IC) to RFMD’s SUF family of products targeting multiple applications within the Aerospace and Defense (A&D) market. The SUF-7000, -8000, -8500 and -9000 die-level GaAs PHEMT amplifiers broaden the product’s range of performance by extending the operational frequency range, which now cover DC to 20 GHz and by delivering multiple combinations of P1dB, gain and linearity performance.

TriQuint Semiconductor Inc. released a highly integrated RF front-end module for GPS (global positioning satellite) navigation systems that combines filter and low noise amplifier (LNA) functions in the smallest package available today, enabling new wireless handset applications as well as mobile and automotive designs. The device expands TriQuint’s already extensive GPS portfolio including surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters now in use by a majority of the world’s leading personal navigation device (PND) makers.

The company’s new TGA4906-SM targets the VSAT industry with a compact, single-chip design. The new packaged device is a 4 W Ka-band fully monolithic HPA ideally suited for VSAT ground terminal applications. The device offers high-level integration and excellent electrical performance, including high efficiency to reduce energy consumption and the need for heat dissipation.

Z-Communications Inc. announced several new RoHS compliant voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) model including the SMV0290A-LF which operates from 284 to 294 MHz with a tuning voltage range of 0.3-3 VDC and features an excellent typical phase noise of -118 dBc/Hz at 10 KHz offset and a typical tuning sensitivity of 9 MHz/V.

The new model, ZRO0915C2LF, which is the second VCO of this new series of products operates from 902 to 928 MHz with linear tuning voltage range of 0-11 VDC. This VCO features typical phase noise of -128 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset and a typical tuning sensitivity of 3 MHz/V.

Z-Comm also announced a new breakthrough model of a coaxial resonator-based voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) in the UHF-band. The new model, ZRO0743B2LF operates from 738 to 748 MHz with a tuning voltage range of 0to 6 VDC. This VCO features an excellent typical phase noise of -131 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset and a typical tuning sensitivity of 2 MHz/V.

GaAs Foundries

Several foundries had announcements at the show, signaling a new emphasis on the outsourcing of integrated circuit fabrication. GaAs foundries such as TriQuint Semiconductor, Win Semiconductor, UMS and OMMIC were among the exhibitors. TriQuint’s commercial foundry push was evident by the emphasis placed on these services in their booth and with the free GaAs Class workshop that was being offered offsite. To hear more about their foundry and the new mmWave processes being offered view our interview with Glen Riley, VP & GM of TriQuint’s Commercial Foundry Business

TriQuint Semiconductor Inc. introduced TQP25 and TQP15, two new 150 mm high volume Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) processes for millimeter-wave (mmWave) applications. These new Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (PHEMT) processes utilize optical lithography technology to substantially reduce cost when compared to traditional E-beam based solutions. TQP15 and TQP25 join the previously announced and fully released TQP13 process, expanding TriQuint’s commercial foundry PHEMT offerings to service the entire range of mmW frequencies. TQP25 is currently available in limited release and TQP15 will be in limited release at the end of Q408.

OMMIC placed more emphasis on new devices and reference designs than it did with news about their foundry processes; however the company has an aggressive roadmap to develop and introduce advanced technologies based on III-V compounds. This means moving to shorter gate lengths and optimizing the Channel Indium content for the PHEMT and MHEMT processes and smaller emitters and the use of antimonides for the InP DHBT. OMMIC offers unique options including Enhancement Mode transistors associated with the normal Depletion Mode transistors and very short gate length high Indium content MHEMT processes.

United Monolithic Semiconductor, a European leader in microwave and millimeter-wave MMIC solutions announced the opening of a new design and customer support center in the United States that would be based in the New England area. The center will be operational in January 2009 and will contribute to the expansion of UMS’ offer with components operating from DC to 100 GHz, addressing the telecommunication infrastructures, SATCOM, Automotive, Defense & Space, Instrumentation and industrial market sectors. Additionally, UMS will use this US Center to provide its American customers with high level of technical support and fast response to inquiries on existing products and new custom designs.

Win Semiconductor was also present at EuMW with a stand and several high-level representatives on-hand to talk directly with customers and the press. I had the chance to speak with Bob Donahue, VP of sales and marketing. Bob was very bullish on the prospects for the III-V foundry business as economics and technology are pushing more and more IDMs to outsource chip fabrication to pure-play foundries such as Win Semi.

Test & Measurement Equipment

Agilent Technologies had an enormous presence at the exhibition with some very impressive test solutions on display. The company had a number of product announcements on October 1st and many of these headline products were being demoed in the booth. In addition to a press luncheon, the company also populated their stand with support and research technologists to provide full demos or technical discussions. I hooked up with Joel Dunsmore - one of our former Expert Advice contributors. Joel showed me a demo of the PNA-X microwave network analyzer being used to perform intermodulation distortion measurements.

The traditional method for making swept-IMD measurements use to require the use of standalone signal generators, a combiner, a spectrum analyzer and a computer, resulting in cumbersome setups and slow measurements. Agilent's network-analyzer-based approach does not require any external computer or hardware beyond the PNA-X network analyzer. Instead, dual internal sources and a built-in signal combiner provide fast swept-IMD measurements -- approximately 100 times faster than spectrum-analyzer based solutions. This approach results in higher throughput in manufacturing and faster time-to-market for R&D engineers. An internal calibration routine ensures accurate answers, yielding better data for R&D designers as well as tighter specifications for manufacturing engineers. I had written about this in a blog earlier in the month, so it was nice to see the actual system in operation.

The company was also showing off other applications for its nonlinear vector network analyzer (NVNA) and X-parameters including active device characterization. Other highlighted news relating to our Spectrum Analysis portfolio:

The company was also displaying its new PXB MIMO Receiver Tester which provides a test solution for Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) receivers with simulation of real-world conditions, significantly reducing development cycle time for 3GPP LTE, WiMAX™ and emerging wireless standards. The new instrument minimizing 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. Also on display was a mmWave test set-up that supported measurements up to 500 GHz (I am told this test system was being used in material studies) and differential measurements in the 100 GHz range that was being used in RF CMOS research, which we will report on in greater detail in the future. The company was also showing off solutions for Antenna test, and a novel use of microwaves to perform non-contacting Atomic Force Microscope Measurements.

The company also used the event to introduce the FieldFox handheld RF analyzer, an integrated handheld instrument for wireless network installation and maintenance (I&M). FieldFox provides RF field engineers’ and technicians’ with the ability 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.

Anritsu was showing off a number of test solutions targeting commercial and defense applications and we had the opportunity to interview Barry Smith, new Business Development Manager In the interview we were introduced to their fast-switching frequency synthesizer, which provides micro-second switching times at a price point lower than standard DDS synthesizers.

We also saw their product line of SiteMaster spectrum and network analyzers (VNA) for use in the field such as base station installation and maintenance. The new 20 GHz version of the SiteMaster is unique to the industry, being the only analyzer for field-use that goes up that high in frequency, targeting such applications as wireless backhaul.

The company also announced the MT8860C WLAN Test Set, a fully integrated test solution that performs high-speed radio layer measurements on IEEE 802.11 WLAN chip sets and introduced the PowerMax software that provides an enhanced visualization of instrument display and simplified remote control of Anritsu's ML2490A series power meters via Ethernet. The new remote user interface can configure the single sensor input ML2495A and dual sensor input ML2496A so that results and traces can be shown in a larger format on a laptop or monitor, giving design engineers a better view of measurement results to ensure the performance of high bandwidth designs.

Keithley had chosen the European Microwave Week 2008 to announce a new version of its SignalMeister RF Communications Test Toolkit software, the industry’s first fully integrated software package able to perform both RF waveform creation and analysis. SignalMeister Version 3.0 provides wireless researchers as well as manufacturers of cellular and connectivity devices, including RF chipset suppliers, with a single software platform capable of addressing all common wireless standards in both the cellular and connectivity space such as 3GPP, 3GPP2, WLAN and WiMAX.

Keithley acknowledged that Europe has been a leader in mobile communication technologies for well over two decades. The company feels that as wireless communication migrates from voice to data and higher data rates are required to provide more and new mobile services, European researchers and designers will continue to play a leading role in these developments. Keithley’s new test instruments will play a key role in advancing RF communications technologies and increasing competitiveness of global market players.

Rohde & Schwarz was demonstrating network analysis performance up to 325 GHz, power analysis with signal generators, and many innovations for MIMO, WiMAX and 3GPP LTE. The company also showed off products that delivered top performance and top features yet priced for medium-size budgets. The new R&S FSV from Rohde & Schwarz made its market debut as the fastest and most accurate mid-range signal analyzer available today. Virtually all of its performance characteristics exceeded those offered by other instruments in its class. In addition, the R&S FSV is alone in offering an analysis bandwidth of 40 MHz. This means it covers a wide range of wireless standards – from 3GPP LTE up to WLAN 802.11n. Moreover, the R&S FSV makes measurements more user-friendly with an innovative operating concept that includes a touch screen. The R&S FSV is a powerful analyzer for development and production.

With the new R&S ZV-Z325 mm-wave converter, Rohde & Schwarz adds the 220 GHz to 325 GHz frequency range to its network analyzers. This range is important for the characterization of wafer components or materials as well as for mm-wave imaging. The converter connects directly to Rohde & Schwarz high-end network analyzers. The instruments are perfectly adapted to each other, which results in exceptional operating convenience. Moreover, when performing multiport measurements at extremely high frequencies, users can for the first time connect as many as four converters to the network analyzers.

Also on display was the R&S SMF100A. Rohde & Schwarz has now added pulse train generation and power analysis capability to its analog R&S SMA100A high-end signal generator: The pulse train option enables users to configure their own pulse trains for radar development and radar tests. This option makes use of the full dynamic range and speed of the pulse generator and pulse modulator, which can optionally be integrated into the signal generators. The power analysis option is a unique enhancement worldwide and enables the R&S SMF100A or R&S SMA100A generators to perform power analyses such as compression point or frequency response measurements on DUTs. The measurement results can be displayed, read out, and saved. To implement this feature, users simply have to connect a power sensor from the R&S NRP-Z family to the instruments.

Richard Mumford got the chance to talk with the folks from Rohde & Schwarz, which you can see in their Virtual Trade Stand on the MWJ Online Show Daily

Tektronix - the European sales and support team were on hand to talk with customers and the press about several new product offerings and collaborations. Tom Hill (from the research group in the US), walked me through a demo of the new SignalVu™ vector signal analysis software for DPO7000 and DPO/DSA70000 digital oscilloscope series. The display and user interface on these analyzers, enable engineers to easily characterize and validate wideband and microwave spectral events.

The company hopes to address the common need among today's communications and radar systems for increased information bandwidth and accurate phase and magnitude characterization of wideband signals. SignalVu combines the signal analysis engine of the RSA6100A real-time spectrum analyzer with the powerful triggering capabilities of the wide bandwidth DPO7000 and DPO/DSA70000 digital oscilloscope series, enabling designers to evaluate complex signals up to 20 GHz without a need for an external down converter. The unique combination provides the functionality of a vector signal analyzer, a spectrum analyzer, and the powerful Pinpoint™ trigger system. The company claims SignalVu advances productivity for engineers working on wideband RF components and system design, integration and performance verification, or operations engineers working in networks or spectrum management.

The company was also showing off their collaboration with Cardiff University on an active Harmonic Load-pull system. This system allowed independent control of the load impedances at multiple harmonic frequencies in order to optimize device performance, which in the case of this demo was a high efficiency amplifier operating Class F.

Electronic Design Automation (EDA)

Mician GmbH, released Version 7.0 of their EM-software tool µWave Wizard™, introducing a 64 bit version which is fully integrated into the existing GUI. The new capability allows users to utilize all available RAM for more complex and challenging designs like entire feed chains. The new 3D FEM solver takes advantage of features of modern multi-core processors and is up to ten times faster compared to the former solver. Additionally there is an overall speed up of about 50% - also for the Mode-Matching Method (MM) and 2D FEM computations - compared to version 6.6.

CST - Computer Simulation Technology AG (CST) announced the release of version 2009 of the electromagnetic simulation software CST STUDIO SUITE™, including its flagship product CST MICROWAVE STUDIO® (CST MWS). Solving large problems was also the theme at CST as the company boasts that users will benefit from numerous enhancements, including a total revision of the tetrahedral frequency domain solver’s mesh adaptation scheme, transient EM/circuit co-simulation, MPI based parallelization for the fast solution to large problems on clusters, and the porting of the user interface to 64 bit in order to handle the increasing complexity of imported models. In addition, two new simulation tools have been added: CST PCB STUDIO™ and CST CABLE STUDIO™, which are fully integrated in CST DESIGN ENVIRONMENT™. CST also drew nice crowds with in-stand presentations on a variety of application topics.

General RF and Microwave Products

To mark its 30th Anniversary Farran Technology stayed true to the company’s Irish roots with a party in Molly Malones Irish bar in the center of Amsterdam. The Guinness flowed, food was consumed and traditional music was played by an Irish band that had been flown in especially for the occasion. It was a great ‘craic’ as they say. As for the exhibition the company celebrated by showing its Vector Network Analyzer Frequency Extension products, which can extend the measurement capability to 110 GHz. Of compact, robust design, while being light and easy to carry they feature 3 foot mounting for optimum stability, are convection cooled, have low noise levels and an excellent dynamic range. They cover four waveguide bands: U-band (40 to 60 GHz), V-band (50 to 75 GHz), E-band (60 to 90 GHz) and W-band (75 to 110 GHz) with ongoing development for higher frequencies.

A new addition to Pascall Electronics’ range of low phase noise ovenized crystal oscillators took pride of place on the company’s stand. For applications in the radar, EW and high-end communication systems markets, the level ‘E’ offers a further 2 dB guaranteed improvement in phase noise on the level 1 performance. It is available from 50 to 140 MHz. At 100 MHz the phase noise offered is -137 dBc/Hz at 100 Hz offset, -164 dBc/Hz at 1 kHz offset and -178 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset. The company also launched a new RoHS compliant PLDRO range, which exhibits the same low power consumption and high performance of the existing non-RoHS version aimed at the defense sector. The RoHS compliant version is aimed at the civil, medical, telecoms and security sectors.

EB (Elektrobit) showcased the EB Propsim 8 scalable tool for radio channel emulation. It is designed to support any existing 3GPP/3GPP2 WCDMA, GSM, TD-SCDMA, EV-DO/CDMA2000, TETRA, IS-54, 802.11n 3GPP LTE, WiMAX and Wi-FI radio interfaces and future wireless system air interfaces. It offers flexibility and reliability for system and network level testing, especially in systems requiring good RF signal fidelity for higher order modulations and wider bandwidths up to 125 MHz with MIMO. Its features include up to 8 fading channels with up to 32 logical fading channels in a single unit and multiple units can be synchronised to work as one emulator.

A newcomer to EuMW, Spanish company EMITE Ing. announced the release of its 8x8 MIMO Analyzer® Series E100. It is claimed to be the first of its kind to offer the advantages of direct measurements of implemented diversity gain (apparent, effective, ideal and actual), spurious radiation outside operating bands, embedded radiation efficiency, maximum available Shannon capacity and capacity loss due to efficiency, all in one single and intuitive interface. Key features include a Plug and Play™ instrument, control for automatic GPIB measurements via USB to a PC, friendly MMMS™ GUI, push and measure, automated configuration testing, PC-based platform with Windows Operating System, user manual and on-line assistance. The company also announced the upcoming Series E200, which will include total radiated power, receiver sensitivity, mean effective gain, angle of arrival, multipath components and number of scatters, among other output parameters.

All in all, it was a very positive exhibition, with most of the exhibitors I talked to feeling positive about the economic state of the industry. Sure, we are all concerned about the general economy, but the commercial and military markets are active in many segments and across the globe. Also many technical innovations which are the life blood of our industry appear healthy as well. So farewell Amsterdam, thank you for a wonderful show and we will see you all in Rome for EuMW 2009.