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electronica 2008: A Snapshot of RF and Microwave Activity

November 18, 2008
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Every two years, electronica, the world’s leading trade fair for components, systems and applications, takes centre stage at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre (ICM). It is always an important, landmark event, but in the current financial and commercial climate electronica 2008 (November 11 to 14) took on increased significance.

As always the event’s scale was impressive with 14 exhibition halls housing over 2750 exhibitors. They represented the complete spectrum of electronics, ranging from semiconductors, measurement and test equipment, embedded systems, displays, sensor technology and electromechanics/system peripherals, through to electronic design. The event was a showcase for new products and innovation that is truly international, with the usual strong representation from North America and Western Europe supported by a significant number of Asian and Eastern European companies.

CONFERENCES

The exhibition was supported by two conferences. The electronica Automotive Conference was particularly significant, not only due to the strength of the automotive industry in the Munich area in particular and Germany in general, but also due to the increasing use of electronics in automotive applications. The conference featured lectures on the fundamental technologies, the pioneering developments and the forward-looking strategies related to future generations of automobiles and growing markets. Speakers included recognized experts and decision-makers at the highest level, both from the automotive industry and its suppliers and system manufacturers.

As they increase in performance, wireless technologies are becoming more complex, whether in the industrial, consumer, communication or computer sector, so the electronica Wireless Congress 2008 addressed how wireless innovation is progressing in a variety of directions, encompassing a whole number of different applications, markets and standards.

FORUMS

Alongside the conferences there were seven sector-specific forums that offered panels of experts and other specialists a platform where they delivered company presentations and discussions and introduced new products and innovative systems. Some were particularly relevant to the RF and microwave engineers, while others catered for the wider electronics community.

The Automotive Forum was organised in close cooperation with the electronic components and systems department of the German National Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association (ZVEI), and offered a wide variety of lectures and discussions on the cutting-edge subject of automotive electronics and related areas. At the Wireless Forum, a range of fields including ZigBee, wireless LAN, security, Bluetooth, navigation and UMTS were examined.

The electronica Forum was the most diverse with lectures covering various topics such as medical electronics, embedded systems or traceability/product counterfeiting. There was also a Round Table where CEOs of international companies discussed the contribution of the semiconductor industry to climate protection.

The embedded Forum considered innovations and market trends in the sector, while the e-Signage Forum addressed the use of digital signage/digital signposting as a modern marketing alternative to traditional posters and as a highly flexible information platform.

The ZVEI Forum offered a range of interesting lectures on a variety of subjects, including energy intelligence, traceability and the environment. The World of MEMS Forum offered an insight into the world of micro-systems, while during the Job Forum human resources experts from international companies considered employment options.

PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Numerous companies servicing the RF & Microwave sector targeted the show for new product introductions. To provide a flavour of the diversity and variety that electronica 2008 offered the following provides a cross-section of many of the new products showcased. It is impossible to mention them all here and apologies to any company not represented.

One large hall was dedicated to test and measurement and this round-up will begin there. Agilent Technologies kicked off the show by hosting a traditional Bavarian style press breakfast complete with white sausage, Pretzels and beer. Also on the menu were a host of innovative test and measurement solutions for applications in wireless communication, aerospace/defence and the automotive industry. At their stand the company presented 22 products spanning wireless communications, component analysis, serial-bus analysis and more.

At the press briefing Guy Séné, vice president and general manager signal analysis division, focussed on the development of the X-Series Signal Analyzers. The series has been enhanced with an upgradeable dual core processor that makes measurements up to three times faster, offers unmatched scalability and addresses a wide range of application-specific measurement solutions including EDGE Evolution and LTE MIMO. The X-Series includes the EXA and MXA signal analyzers. The upgraded EXA delivers 25 MHz analysis bandwidth, giving even more performance at a reasonable price point. The MXA is claimed to be the fastest signal analyzer on the market. It has available dual MIMO, which brings the latest in two-channel LTE FDD analysis technology to the test bench. With an all-digital IF and pre-amps up to 26 GHz, the MXA provides high accuracy.

Scott Sampl, VP/GM oscilloscopes product line, concentrated on the InfiniiVision 7000 Series Oscilloscopes, which has a 12.1 inch screen that enables users to view analogue, digital and serial signals better in one instrument. Specifications include bandwidth of 350 MHz, 500 MHz and 1 GHz, 2 or 4 analogue channels, plus 16 digital on the MSO model and a sample rate of up to 4 GS/s. The 100,000 waveforms/s real-time update rate displays infrequent events and the series offers complete connectivity including USB, LAN, XGA display out and LXI Class C compliant as standard. Agilent also introduced the U7236A/U7237A 10GBASE-T Transmitter Electrical Test Solutions. The U7236A is a conformance application that runs on the Infiniium oscilloscopes and provides fast and accurate 10GBASE-T design validation and debug. The U7237A fixture provides access to probe the 10GBASE-T signals.

Another announcement was the introduction of standalone high-resolution digitizers with LXI connectivity for R&D and manufacturing engineers. The L4532A 2-channel and L4534A 4-channel digitizers offer simultaneous sampling at up to 20 MS/s, and with 16-bit resolution. These products represent a new category of digitizers with their robust input channel and high performance analogue-to-digital (A/D) design, and on-board measurements. The isolated input channels can measure up to ±250 V and are designed to handle demanding applications requiring electromechanical device control for product test or characterization.

As is expected Rohde & Schwarz was very proactive on its home turf in Munich, launching a number of new products of particular interest to RF and microwave engineers. The R&S FSH4 and the R&S FSH8 are rugged, handy and lightweight all-purpose instruments for mobile spectrum analysis and come equipped with a powerful battery pack. They cover the frequency range from 9 kHz to 3.6 GHz or 8 GHz and depending on the options installed, can also be used as two-port vector network analyzers, as cable and antenna testers or as power meters, enabling them to support almost all RF measure¬ment tasks encountered in service, installation and maintenance applications.

A displayed average noise level of e.g. –163 dBm (1 Hz) at 2 GHz and a preamplifier that can be activated on all models can measure very small signals reliably. Featuring third-order intercept of 15 dBm in the common mobile radio bands, the analyzers perform comparably to high-end desktop models. The level measurement uncertainty is low and amounts to a maximum of 1 dB for measurements up to 3.6 GHz and a maximum of 1.5 dB up to 8 GHz.

Making its market debut as the fastest and most accurate mid-range signal and spectrum analyzer available, according to the company, is the R&S FSV signal and spectrum analyzer, which is singular 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. It is a powerful analyzer for development and production and has user friendly features including an innovative operating concept that includes a touch screen.

Utilizing its extensive know-how in high-end analogue-signal generation, Rohde & Schwarz is providing the R&S SMC100A signal generator with class-leading price/performance for the economy segment. Although it is the smallest instrument in its class it still generates signals of extremely high spectral purity. All important functions such as AM/FM/φM and pulse modulation are integrated, so no additional options are required. The instrument is available from 9 kHz to 1.1 GHz or 3.2 GHz. And is suitable for service applications, field use and university labs. In addition, its short frequency and level-setting times of <5 ms ensure efficiency in production applications.

The Aeroflex 7100 Digital Radio Test Set was so new that although it was previewed at electronica the company imposed a press embargo until after the show. It is designed to enable chip-set designers, software developers and handset manufacturers to accelerate the pace of development projects to meet the requirements of the new 3GPP Rel-8 E-UTRAN standard (better known as 3G LTE) and is said to deliver the most comprehensive testing capability for 3G LTE mobile devices available in a single bench-top instrument.

Utilising intuitive touch screen technology to provide easy access to comprehensive test functionality, the 7100 incorporates a fully integrated RF interface, baseband and protocol stack. It simulates the network from the physical layer to the core network IP infrastructure offering both parametric analysis and protocol logging and diagnostics. End-to-end IP connectivity allows the data throughput performance and latency to be assessed. With a base frequency range of up to 6 GHz, the 7100 is designed to cope with both current and potential future spectrum allocations. Optional features include 2x2 MIMO and built in ‘fading’ simulation. An optional second RF carrier is also available for handover test scenarios and future options will include GSM/GPRS/EDGE and WCDMA/HSPA.

Aeroflex also announced several new product features for its PXI Modular Instrument 3000 Series. These include the addition of a new embedded PXI system controller, enhancements to the 3030 Series GSM/EDGE measurement suite and two new arbitrary waveform generation memory options for 302xC models. The 3000 Series also now includes SelfTest capabilities and general enhanced functionality with the latest driver updates.

The new 3001B PXI slot 1 system controller offers up to ten percent faster measurement speed over the 3001A, which it is replacing, via an incorporated Intel® Pentium™ M 760 2.0 GHz processor with 1.5 GByte memory and 80 GByte HDD. This controller also includes a built-in IEEE488.2 GPIB controller, DVI-1 video, a high-definition audio I/O and will be supplied with a Windows® XP™ operating system. To accommodate the new 3001B, the company is introducing a modified 3000B 8-slot PXI Chassis with touch screen LCD panel display to replace model 3000A.

Pendulum Instruments has a specific niche in the test and measurement market, which it has enhanced with the introduction of the new CNT-9IR – an all-inclusive, high performance calibrator of frequency sources that combines high resolution measurements and advanced analysis with a built-in ultra-stable Rubidium atomic reference clock. Its compact format and short warm-up time makes the instrument an ideal transportable frequency calibrator/analyzer. Thanks to its built-in numerical statistics analysis and graphic trend plot the CNT-91R can also be used to analyze/characterize oscillators, including the calculation of Allan Deviation.

Also on show were the PicoTime™ low cost, high performance measurement test set used for frequency stability measurements, the GPS PicoReferenceTM low-cost, high performance combined frequency and measurement test set and the TO-16, a precision tracking oscillator for 5 or 10 MHz scientific or metrology applications.

Away from the Test & Measurement Hall the other thirteen housed a variety of companies ranging from semiconductors to materials and general components, with a discernable emphasis on automotive applications in many sectors. Due to the diversity of the companies I will address the remainder alphabetically. First, as a manufacturer of flexible circuit boards All Flex specialises in quick turn manufacturing for prototypes and low to medium volume. The company’s product line includes flexible circuits that are single sided, double sided, and multilayer up to six layers. Its complex flex circuits include Maxi-Flex, (40 ft+), Sculptured Flex and Power Flex, with Flexible Heaters being a new product offering.

Analog Devices Inc. (ADI), unveiled what it claimed to be the industry’s lowest noise, widest bandwidth family of continuous-time sigma-delta (CTSD) analogue-to-digital converters (ADCs). The 16-bit, AD9261 and AD9262 CTSD converter, and the AD9267 CTSD modulator couple low noise and high dynamic range with a bandwidth of up to 10 MHz. The new ADC family achieves its combination of speed, accuracy and bandwidth by incorporating a breakthrough CTSD converter technology that is ideal for wireless infrastructure, medical and other high-performance equipment demanding uncompromised data resolution and wide bandwidth.

The 16-bit single and dual AD926x ADC family achieves its leading performance with a combination 86 dB dynamic range for an input signal bandwidth of up to 10 MHz. The highly integrated AD9261 and AD9262 feature an on-chip PLL clock multiplier, decimation filters, and sample rate converters and provide flexible output data rates between 30 MS/s and 160 MS/s. The AD9267, which features only the high performance 640-MSPS modulator core and PLL clock multiplier, presents the high speed data directly to the output. This provides designers the flexibility to offload signal processing functions to an FPGA or other processor.

ADI has also expanded its iSensor™ intelligent sensor product family with two new inertial sensors that make it simple and affordable to implement sophisticated motion and navigation control in a broader range of applications, including medical instrumentation. The ADIS16405 six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) inertial measurement unit (IMU) combines high performance, simplicity, and a tri-axis magnetometer sensor for improved heading accuracy. The ADIS16300 four-degrees-of-freedom (4DoF) IMU is offered at a price that is said to be up to 10 times less than other products in its class.

In the field of advanced passive components and connectors AVX Corp. has developed a new high capacitance PulseCap™ capacitor in a low profile package. These large case size tantalum products are rated at 2200 µF (2.2 mF)/6.3 V. A maximum case height of 2 mm makes them suitable for reduced-height applications. The ‘undertab’ termination style — where traditional J leads are replaced by terminations that do not protrude outside of the outline of the case — increases volumetric efficiency and allows parts to be positioned very closely together, delivering significant space savings. PulseCap devices are RoHS compatible and capable of withstanding a soldering profile of 3x reflow at 260°C. Operating temperature range is -55°C to +125°C.

The company also announced a ceramic radial leaded capacitor that meets CECC and ceramic AEC-Q200 qualifications. Part of the Skycap family, the AR Series encompasses NP0, X7R, and X8R dielectrics for harsh environment applications. The AR Series, with its CECC and AEC-Q200 qualifications, is suitable for designers requiring a Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) for new qualifications.

EPCOS unveiled what is claimed to be the smallest family of triplexers in the world, which integrate filters for cellular, PCS and GPS systems in a single component. They measure only 2 by 2.5 mm2 and the inclusion of the GPS filter now allows manufacturers of mobile phones to process navigation data in their phones. The triplexers, which are constructed in LTCC technology, are RoHS compatible and offer very good values of insertion loss for all three bands: typically 0.7 dB for cellular systems, 0.65 dB for PCS and 1.35 dB for GPS. The components are available in three different LGA pin configurations (B9100, B9101 and B9102), thus assuring maximum flexibility for customers.

The company has also developed a new front-end module that incorporates a duplexer function in addition to GSM filtering. It is suited to dual-mode mobile phones operating in quad-band GSM and WCDMA band I mode. Even with complete integration of all filter functions, this LTCC-based module measures only 5.4 by 4.0 by 1.2 mm³. The M140 is optimized to minimize its power consumption and operates with control voltages of only 1.8 V. Another feature is its high linearity of -110 dBm. Thanks to its matched duplexer inputs, design-in with corresponding chipsets is simplified. ESD protection for voltages of up to 8 kV is incorporated in addition to all filter functions.

A number of key products were showcased by HUBER+SUHNER including the newly launched SUCOFLEX 400 family of microwave cable assemblies. The family is based on the SUCOFLEX 100 products, which have proven their reliability and stability for a wide range of applications for more than 20 years. The latest innovation is the new ultra low density PTFE dielectric, which has been completely redesigned and, as a result, has improved the electrical performance of the new cable. The connectors have been adjusted to the cable in order to preserve the excellent return loss (VSWR) on the assembly. The new SUCOFLEX 400 family is designed to meet the demands that current HF systems for defence, medical and space applications must comply with.

Other products featured included the SUCOFLEX TVAC, a stable microwave cable assembly for thermal vacuum applications and the SPUMA_FR-400 flexible communication cable, which is very low loss, non-halogen low smoke and flame resistant.

Infineon Technologies introduced itself to the press over a Mongolian meal one evening during electronica and also served up some tasty new products at the show. These were numerous but one that stood out is the world’s smallest transient voltage suppression (TVS) diode for the protection of RF antennas in the latest electronic equipment. Applications include GPS, mobile TV, FM radio, etc. The new TVS antenna protection diode, the ESD0P2RF-02LS, is designed in a tiny leadless TSSLP package that measures 0.62 mm by 0.32 mm in size and 0.31 mm in height.

It is designed to protect the latest electronic communication and consumer devices against electrostatic discharges (ESD) and can reliably absorb ESDs as high as 20 kV. High linearity up to 6 GHz together with the market’s lowest capacitance of 0.2 pF for a TVS diode and low clamping voltages in a bi-directional configuration are the perfect fit for sensitive RF antenna applications.

INGUN Prüfmittelbau GmbH not only to showcase its products on the stand but also in new catalogues that were launched in time for the show. In the new Test Probe Catalogue 2009 there is an over 50 page section with a substantial assortment of test probes for the cable harness testing sector. The pages chronicling standard test probes have been extended with the addition of a new series. Featured in the catalogue and on the stand was the next generation PA 600 pneumatic draw-type test fixture. It allows double-sided contacting and offers a substantial useable area. It is available as a stand-alone fixture for medium size and large volume batches and the pneumatic fixture can be optionally equipped with a Siemens control unit.

The new RF-Catalogue 2009 includes radio frequency probes as well as numerous measurement diagrams with regard to return loss and insertion loss (matching and transfer characteristics) for the individual probes. In this sector the company previewed the new HFS865 probe up to 12 GHz, which is seen as a significant new product. Finally, the new Fixture Catalogue now has over 40 pages and provides a clear structure for standard and special fixtures.

The new ProtoLaser U from the German laser specialist LPKF Laser & Electronics AG, breaks new ground in the UV laser machining of different materials. Although it looks very similar on the outside to its twin, the LPKF ProtoLaser S, inside there is a different laser source with special features of its own, which enables the machine to cut, drill and structure almost any kind of material. It can depanel individual PCBs from a large printed circuit board and can also cut LTCC and prepregs, drill holes and microvias, structure TCO/ITO layers, and open up solder masks. The laser process is controlled by the integrated CircuitCAM software and the high pulse energy of the UV laser causes ablation without leaving behind any residues. The integrated vacuum table holds flexible and thin substrates safely and firmly in place.

LPKF also offers an inexpensive solution built from a standard scanner and the StencilCheck software to inspect stencil geometries. The stencils are scanned by a transmitted light unit to identify the openings. StencilCheck compares these findings with the original layout data and then issues an inspection record. It enables stencil shops to document stencil compliance with the cutting data. The optional CPK module prints the inspection results and supplies the basis for comprehensive quality assurance as per ISO 9001.

M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc. introduced a pair of wide-band VHF power amplifier modules, which will shorten the final application design stage in mobile, portable and base station communication systems for microwave and RF applications. The multi-modulation modules consist of a driver and an output stage with built-in amplitude equalization and feedback networks.

The 10 W, MAPM-020512-010C00 device is a dual stage module with over 20 dB gain. It also includes a sophisticated ALC control pin that can be used for signal modulation, tight gain flatness or temperature correction, or other similar applications. When the ALC input is used for AM modulation, an external envelop detector is used to sense the output envelop of the power amplifier and supply a feedback signal to the ALC loop to linearize modulation. Modulation bandwidths span from DC to over 1 MHz, making the 10 W module useful for voice, data or even video transmission. The device operates in a frequency range between 20 to 512 MHz. The supply voltage is 30 V, input power is 20 dBm, output power is 20 W and bias current is 1.0A.

The 40 W, MAPM-020512-040C00 is very similar in both size and performance. The key difference is that it also includes a DC gate bias pin for the MOSFETs rather than an ALC control pin. The 40 W device operates in a frequency range between 20 to 512 MHz. The supply voltage is 30 V, input power is 10 W, output power is 30 W and bias current is 3.0 A. Both modules have an operating case temperature range from -40° to 100°C and can be stored in temperatures ranging from -50°C to 100°C.

Demonstrating the diversity of the exhibition Rogers Corp.'s Advanced Circuit Materials Division showcased the improved capabilities of its RO4000 laminates, in particular the RO4003C® and RO43550B® materials, which are now available with low profile reverse-treat electrodeposited copper. These lead-free, RoHS compliant laminates offer the performance of PTFE-based materials with the ease of fabrication common to FR-4 (epoxy/glass) laminates. These glass-reinforced hydrocarbon/ceramic laminates deliver good dimensional stability and tight dielectric-constant tolerance across a panel and are suitable for a wide range of performance-sensitive, high volume applications such as commercial communications.

The company also showed its range of thermal management materials – HEATWAVE™ thermal management solutions are aluminium silicon carbide metal matrix composite materials that combine light weight with excellent thermal conductivity. COOLSPAN™ thermal interface material is an easily dispensed grease with minimal fillers and reliable performance. COOLSPAN electrically and thermally conductive adhesive is an unsupported silver-filled B-staged epoxy adhesive film, which is targeted at microwave circuit and heatsink applications where an electrical ground path is desired. Other applications include die attach, printed circuit board fabrication, and advanced material composites.

Now in its 50th year of operation Rosenberger continues to develop connectors, cable assemblies and accessories. One of the latest to join the extensive range is the new RosenbergerHSD® interconnect system, which has been developed for High Speed Data transmission. It is a symmetrical, impedance controlled 100 Ω interconnect system for transmitting data streams at high bit rates. The high performance digital system prevents interference through crosstalk and external sources and its performance is achieved by using an optimized shielding concept with complete braid connection to the outer contact of the connector.

The interconnect system enables applications up to 1.6 Gbit/s – 800 Mbit/s on two differential pairs each of 10 m in length – for example in automotive electronics (LVDS cameras, USB connections or IEEE 1394 applications). The system can also be applied for digital infotainment electronics, digital symmetrical networks or even radio base stations.

Also showcased were the company’s ranges of RF automotive connectors (cable connectors, pcb connectors and accessories), semiconductor test equipment solutions including multiport mini-coax connectors and coaxial pogos, alongside the new Best Value Program of RF connecting systems.

Spectrum Elektrotechnik GmbH is prolific in its introduction of new products and had a vast number of connectors, cable assemblies, phase adjusters, etc on display. Of particular note are the RF Multipin connectors, which are available with 4, 7, 8, 12 and 23 coaxial inserts (terminating the coaxial cable assemblies) at the multipin end. This means that all the coaxial cable assemblies can be connected at once and in seconds without a torque wrench or safety wires and using minimum space.

Also highlighted were the company’s new phase adjuster products including low cost computer controlled phase adjusters and the LS-0103-6161 and LS-0203-6161 trombone phase adjusters. They operate in the DC to 3 GHz frequency range and have particular applications for system/test sets.

Spinner displayed its products along its four business lines – communication products, test and industry, radar and satcomms and broadcast. The products exhibited were diverse including a new product line of compact calibration kits, which combines all standards needed for a calibration of a network analyser in one handy unit. The design is characterized by excellent handling due to the ergonomic arrangement of the components as well as being small in size and low in weight.

For laboratory utilization, the product line offers 4-in-1 versions, which include open, short, load and through, for a complete calibration of a network analyser with two or more ports. Available 50 Ω versions are 7-16, N and 3.5 mm, male or female. The 3-in-1 OSL combination includes open, short and load for one connector type, and is available for 7-16 and N (50 Ω) connectors, male or female.

The company also showed components for LTE. In addition to the well known connectors and jumper cables Spinner also offers a broad range of combiners, filters and splitters for the multiple use of the antenna infrastructure. All components are suitable for installation indoors as well as on masts.

Last alphabetically but not least is Vectron that showcased the PX-369 packaged crystal oscillator (PXO) and TX-309 temperature compensated crystal oscillator (TCXO) product families, alongside enhancements to its EX-209 evacuated miniature crystal oscillator (EMXO) offering. These solutions and enhancements for high-reliability space applications help leading satellite manufacturers and OEMs drive down payload costs.

The company also announced the OX-500 oven controlled crystal oscillator, which is claimed to be the smallest hermetically sealed OCXO on the market. It is suitable for a range of military, wireline, wireless and test and measurement applications. For applications that require high stability but lower shock, vibration and washability the new OX-501, is a SMD 9 by 14 mm OCXO that provides the full performance of an OCXO with the size of a standard temperature-controlled crystal oscillator, making it suitable for use in base stations, specifically Femto base stations.

SenGenuity, the Sensors division of Vectron, announced the expansion of its ViSmart™ family of viscosity sensors. New products include the ViSmart high shear extended range sensor, which is the first solid-state sensor available for viscosity measurements in thick and viscous fluids; an IP67-rated threaded bolt ViSmart sensor; and the FluidTrackr™ Handheld Datalogger.

Many more companies in the RF and microwave sector showed their product portfolio and this article only highlights the key new product introductions. Once again electronica has demonstrated why it becomes the focus of the electronics industry every two years and how it has earned its place as the leading trade show in the field.


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