Microwave Journal

IMS2011 Product Wrap Up - MMICs, Materials and More

June 15, 2011

ADI introduced two 1 W, 2-stage RF driver amplifiers featuring the ability to cover the entire cellular frequency range used in wireless communications systems. The highly-integrated are pin-compatible, easy-to-tune and integrate two stages of gain, thereby saving significant board space when compared to traditional discrete designs. ADI also introduced a PLL synthesizer for wireless communication systems that allows implementation of fractional-N or integer-N operation continuously over an ultra-wide frequency range of 35 to 4400 MHz while maintaining excellent phase-noise performance. And lastly, ADI announced new releases of two popular RF design tools. The ADIsimRF Rev. 1.5 enhancements include more visibility into signal levels within the signal chain, the ability to set RMS and peak-power warning thresholds, and calculators for measuring inter-stage power loss. ADIsimPLL™ Version 3.4 development software has been upgraded to support new products in ADI’s industry-leading PLL portfolio, the ADF4351 PLL for base station and general-purpose applications and the ADRF6850 integrated broadband receiver for satellite applications. View our ADI video from the show floor.

Avago announced an expansion of its high-performance portfolio of RF and microwave components for cellular infrastructure applications with two new series of LNAs. Featuring best-in-class noise performance and high linearity, the new LNAs and ALM-11x36 fail-safe bypass LNA modules deliver improved receiver sensitivity for base transceiver stations and tower mounted amplifiers applications. They also announced a series of high-power switch low-noise amplifier modules dedicated for use in front-end receiver designs of TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE base transceiver station (BTS) applications. The new small-footprint ALM-12x24 modules replace existing three-piece discrete solutions, providing significant board space savings that is especially critical for BTS designs with 8 transceiver channels in a single radio card. And finally an impressive product that they announced was a complete RF front-end module for WiMAX radios in mobile handset or portable PC applications. The new module is designed specifically for coexistence operation of WiMAX with other cellular and WiFi radios in the same device. The module features two receive ports and a single transmit port in a small 5 by 7 by 1 mm package that is ideal for space-constrained mobile applications in the 2.5 to 2.7 GHz frequency range – providing up to 25 percent space savings over discrete WiMAX solutions. View the Avago video demo of this new product.

Ciao Wireless was featuring their high linearity LNSs with 16-17 dB of "headroom" between P1dB and OICP3, ultra broadband amplifiers from 20 MHz to 20 GHz and ultra low noise amplifiers with NF as low as .3 dB which is impressive.

Freescale Semiconductor introduced two LDMOS RF power transistors that allow wireless base station amplifiers to cover all channels in an entire allocated frequency band. Most of today’s amplifier systems operate with instantaneous (video) bandwidth limitations of 20 to 40 MHz and require a separate power amplifier for each channel. Freescale’s new RF power LDMOS transistors deliver high linearity, high efficiency, wide instantaneous bandwidth and high power that extend the instantaneous signal bandwidth to an industry-leading 160 MHz, making them ideal for these next-generation amplifier systems. In addition, Freescale was displaying a 77 GHz radar sensor using their SiGe chip set. The radar sensor can be used for vehicles, search and rescue and other applications to sense moving objects. View our Freescale video on the 77 GHz radar.

Hittite announced that they had 33 new products released for the show. They introduced their first 10 MHz to 70 GHz Synthesized Signal Generator. This unique and powerful signal generator was designed to support the exploding market for communication and sensor equipment operating at millimeterwave frequencies. At an output frequency of 70 GHz, the HMC-T2270 exhibits low -77 dBc/Hz phase noise, better than -46 dBc spurious output, and up to +2 dBm of output power. They released an industry leading low noise, wide band, Fractional-N Phase-Locked-Loop (PLL) with integrated Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) that is the ultimate choice for designers looking for a single, superior performance, multi-purpose, multi-application device that can cover a wide frequency range. Hittite’s direct conversion receiver line-up combines new wideband components and techniques to achieve excellent system level performance was on display along with their High Speed Multi-Mode ADC. Other newly released products included a MMIC Power Amplifier, Voltage Variable Attenuator, Linear Voltage Regulator, Tunable Filters, Downconverter/Receiver, Analog Phase Shifter, Fractional-N PLL, Microwave PLL with Integrated VCO, RMS Power Detector and Variable Gain Amplifiers. See Hittite's video demo of their wideband VCOs.

LPKF Laser & Electronics does not manufacture semiconductors but they do produce laser and milling based PCB prototyping machines. It is always fascinating to watch one of their tools at work, churning out an array of PCBs. The newest generation of machines is much faster than they were the last time I received a demo. For instance, the entry level ProtoMat S43 comes equipped with a 40,000 rpm spindle motor, a 9” x 12 working area and has the capacity to produce multiple design iterations in a single day. The S64 model with speeds up to 60,000 rpm can master 2.5D material processing such as the routing of pockets, vias and details for housing enclosures. The system now features a mounted dispenser which applies solder paste, an intelligent fiducial camera, and 15-position automatic tool changer. The top-of-the-line S103 includes a 100,000 rpm motor, for milling ultra-fine structures with enough high precision detail and tolerance to support geometries suitable for millimeter-wave PCB designs. This version also features a vacuum table to securely mount the PCB and a pneumatic milling depth limiter.

IHP of Germany has developed a SiGe HBT process with ft/fmax of 300/500 GHz and 2 ps CML gate delay. They offer this as a foundry service for applications such as millimeter wave and terahertz communication, radar, imaging and sensing.

Infineon was showing off their 50 V LDMOS with devices from 10 to 700 W operating from 200 to 1400 MHz. The have a wide variety of other devices such as CMOS switches and LNAs for GPS/GLONASS applications. See their article in our June issue on LNAs.

Integra was displaying their products ranging from discrete RF transistors, matched and unmatched integrated modules to complete multi-kilowatt power amplifiers. The company has recently begun offering GaN on SiC technology for radar applications from UHF, L-band, S-band and C-band. Attendees stopping by their booth were able to talk to engineers about their new C Band radar products (ranging from 50 to 80 watts output power), and unmatched broadband communication products ranging from 12 to 200 watts (CW).

M/A-COM Technology Solutions had an exciting presence at this year's MTT-S. They introduced a new family of GaN Power transistors that target L- and S-Band pulsed radar applications. Part of this introduction included a GaN test station in the demo area, where M/A-COM Tech engineers demonstrated the power of GaN technology. The products use GaN on Silicon Carbide - offered as transistors and pallets – and utilize a 0.5 micron HEMT process with attractive RF performance parameters with respect to power, gain, gain flatness, efficiency and ruggedness over wide-operating bandwidths. View our video about their new GaN family. Other notable new products included LNAs and a new family of phase shifters for high gain antennas and phased array radar. Also unveiled was their new Optomai Optoelectronics product line that includes a portfolio of modular drivers and transimpedance amplifiers for line and client side next generation 40G and 100G fiber optic communication systems.

Microsemi has displayed significant growth recently and was showing off their S-band GaN power transistor family operating at 2.7 and 3.5 GHz. They recently acquired AML Communications to expand their product portfolio. They also were featuring their SiC UHF SIT devices.

NXP was very active with an awards ceremony for the student design challenge for applications of their “unbreakable” transistor for ISM applications. This 1200 W device can withstand a VSWR of 125:1 and still operate. “A 2-kW Amplifier for a Portable 449-MHz Spaced Antenna Wind Profiler Radar” by Brad Lindseth was selected as the overall winner. They also introduced their Gen8 LDMOS RF power transistors for wireless base stations allowing signal bandwidths up to 60 MHz and providing optimized I/O matching structures to enable wideband, affordable, compact, multi-standard and highly efficient Doherty power amplifiers. NXP was demonstrating a 50 W wideband GaN amplifier covering 500 to 3000 MHz; 2.1 GHz and 2.7 GHz Doherty power amplifiers for base stations; and a 100-W amplifier covering 2.5 - 3.5 GHz. NXP has developed its high-frequency, high-power GaN process technology in collaboration with United Monolithic Semiconductors and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics. View our NXP video about their new products.

OMMIC released 10 new MMICs for telecommunication and radar applications, including ultra low noise amplifiers, power amplifiers and control functions from 5 to 160 GHz. The company has significantly reduced the noise figure for commercially available low noise covering the 5 – 7, 18 – 26, 25 – 43, 13 – 15 and 110 – 160 GHz bands with 0.5, 1.1, 1.5, 1.5 and 4.5 dB noise amplifier MMICs with the new CGY2120XUH, CGY2121XUH, CGY2122XUH, CGY2125AUH and CGY2191UH LNAs respectively. The CGY2178HV is a new plastic packaged version of the space qualified CGY2178UH MMIC, providing over 30 dB of gain and 1 dB noise figure over the 5 – 6 GHz frequency band.

In the area of power amplifiers OMMIC has released a 5 W output power MMIC, the CGY2138UH, operating in the 27.5 GHz to 31 GHz band with 19 dB of gain under 5 V and 5.6 A. Adding to the control function family of devices is the CGY2179UH and CGY2179HV models, which are bare die and QFN plastic packaged versions of a 4 bit phase shifter and LNA combination operating in the band 10.7 to 12.75 GHz, providing 12 dB of gain and a 1.9 dB noise figure. Finally, the CGY2174UH is a 6-bit phase shifter designed for the 13 – 16 GHz frequency range, which is suited to both space based and terrestrial Ku-band telecommunication antennas.

Peregrine introduced their DuNE™ digitally tunable capacitor technology that promises to have a big impact in the market. The new 5-bit, 32-state digitally controlled variable capacitors provide a monolithically integrated impedance tuning solution for demanding RF applications. They enable wide-band tunable networks, minimizing mismatch losses, improving system efficiency and reducing radio complexity for cost-effective tuning solutions. Applications range from tunable filters and matching networks to antenna tuning.

RF Micro Devices announced it has qualified its GaN1 power semiconductor process technology for 65 V operation. The high reliability power semiconductor process technology supports RFMD's GaN-based power semiconductor product designs and is also available to foundry customers through RFMD's Foundry Services business unit. They also announced the expansion of its multi-market product portfolio to include the RFVC1831 — RFVC1844 family of MMIC voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs). The 14 new narrowband VCOs are optimized for the point-to-point (P2P) radio market, with cellular backhaul the leading application. The VCOs are also suited for satellite communications, test & measurement, aerospace & defense, and other defense and commercial applications. And finally, they announced the expansion of its multi-market product portfolio to include several point-to-point (P2P) radio chipsets targeting the growing cellular backhaul market. The highly integrated radio chipsets combine multiple RF/microwave radio front end components and expand RFMD's product portfolio to encompass all critical RF and IF functions in the P2P radio transceiver.

Rogers Corp. was on hand to discuss the benefits and advantages of their printed-circuit-board (PCB) materials in high-frequency analog and high-speed digital circuits. Designers of high-power, high-frequency circuits, such as power amplifiers and beam-forming networks learned about RT/duroid 6035HTC, which features outstanding thermal conductivity of 1.44 W/m-K with z-axis dielectric constant of 3.5 and low loss tangent of 0.0013 at 10 GHz. RT/duroid 6035HTC laminates consist of a high-thermal-conductivity (HTC) fluoropolymer composite with thermally stable, reverse-treated and electrodeposited copper foil and a unique filler material that helps minimize wear on machine tools compared to competitors’ high thermal conductivity substrates that use abrasive fillers. RO4360 materials are glass-reinforced thermoset materials with a low dissipation factor of 0.0038 at 10 GHz. As Roger Corp. representatives pointed out, this laminate offers FR-4 like processing ease, but with a tailored dielectric constant of 6.15 @ 10GHz.

RJR Polymers was showing off their new LCP packaging technology that offers a unique three-piece package design that supports the use of very high thermal conductivity materials and tolerates components with mismatched coefficients of expansion. Manufacturers using the technology can choose from a wide variety of potential substrate materials including alloys, copper and diamond. The company also offers pre-applied epoxy-coated lids and package assembly equipment. This new packaging technology allows OEMs to support a wider range of power levels and frequencies while maintaining the same mechanical stability and moisture resistance of legacy ceramic packaging.

Skyworks announced a couple of acquisitions just prior to the show including SiGe that will help them scale the SiGe designs and compete better in the SoC markets. They also acquired Advanced Analogic Technologies which will help them improve their power management systems. They introduced ceramic connectorized, high power filters for military, homeland security, airborne and high-end commercial transceiver applications. These smaller, lighter and more portable solutions offer customers significant design benefits and flexibility when compared to the more traditional and much larger metallic-cavity filters along with space savings. They also introduced the first in a series of ultra low current, general purpose LNAs for diverse wireless applications including satellite receiver set-top boxes, Bluetooth(R) headsets, medically prescribed hearing aids, advanced meter reading devices and 2.4 GHz wireless local area networks. These high performance LNAs deliver enhanced receiver sensitivity and wide dynamic ranges facilitating improved signal reception, increased design flexibility and reduced part counts. View our Skyworks video on their diode products.

Synergy was featuring their new VCOs, which combine mode-coupling methods with slow-wave transmission-line structures to achieve both optimized and wide tuning ranges with low phase noise comparable to low-Q sources. The devices offer 2:1 tuning bandwidths over frequencies ranging from 500 MHz to 18 GHz. These new distributed coupled resonator oscillators can be delivered at standard and custom frequencies without the non-recurring-engineering (NRE) costs associated with more expensive custom-resonator-based oscillators and can also be designed into compact housings with low phase noise and optimized bandwidths to challenge the performance of high-Q ceramic-resonator, dielectric-resonator (DR), yttrium-iron-garnet (YIG) resonator, and surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) resonator oscillators—as well as low-Q resonators based on lumped circuit elements and printed transmission lines at about one-third the size.

TotalTemp Technologies was very happy to unveil their new CE certified line of Thermal Platforms at the IMS 2011 show in Baltimore this year. With growing opportunities in the European community and established rep groups in France and the UK, this will help to further expand the market base for TotalTemp products. Fortunately TotalTemp designed their systems with CE compliance in mind, so the step to actual certification was a natural progression. TotalTemp will expand the CE certification to several new sizes of platforms that are presently being developed.

Transline was presenting their fusion bonding process of PTFE as one of the few PCB suppliers qualified to perform this process. It results in a higher performance circuit with a homogenous Dk that is very reliable since the layers are directly bonded under high temperature to forms bonds at the molecular level.

GaN was once again a hot topic for those in the business and TriQuint was no exception. The company has released several standard products based on its GaN process, including a discrete RF power transistor (T1G4005528-FS) that operates between DC to 3.5 GHz for narrow and wideband applications, targeting military and civilian radar, professional and military radio communications systems, test instrumentation, avionics and wideband or narrowband amplifiers. The T1G6001528-Q3 is a packaged GaN discrete RF power transistor offering wideband coverage, high PAE, gain and more than 18 Watts of output power and greater than 50% efficiency across an exceptionally wide bandwidth (DC to 6 GHz). The TGA2576 is a power amplifier that delivers 30W of saturated output power in the 2.5-6 GHz range and typically offers 30% PAE and 25dBm of small signal gain. The PA is well suited for counter-IED (C-IED) and other EW (electronic weapons) systems. View of video providing an overview of TriQuint's A&D products.

TriQuint was also among RF semiconductor vendors offering “green” solutions to wireless infrastructure markets. Among their new base station devices was a 0.25 Watt transistor, which provides high gain and linearity with very low current consumption— performance at 2.1 GHz: 17.5 dB gain, 40 dBm OIP3 & 24.8 dBm P1dB while consuming only 88 mA current from a 5V supply. The device also features integrated RF over-drive, DC over-voltage and Class 2 (2000V) HBM ESD protection. A 0.5 Watt device is also now available with performance at 2.1 GHz: 17.8 dB gain, 43.5 dBm OIP3 & 27.5 dBm P1dB while consuming only 137 mA current from a 5V supply.

Valpey Fisher was busy showing off their products for timing and frequency control applications, introducing the VFOV650, the newest addition to the company’s Oven Controlled Crystal Oscillators (OCXOs) product line. The VFOV650 provides excellent performance and utilizes Valpey Fisher’s unique crystal heating system to save cost making it less expensive than conventional oven oscillators. At 600 milliwatts the device consumes significantly less power than most standard OCXOs. It is built in a space-saving 13 x 20 mm package and generates frequencies up to 52 MHz with temperature stability performance of ±10 ppb or better and a typical phase noise floor of -170dBc/Hz.

Other exciting news for Valpey-Fisher has been the development of a new line of Silicon monolithic passive discrete passives and integrated modules. Over the last five months, the company has developed and begun delivering discrete passives including low VSWR/ high isolation 90 degree hybrids, the industry’s smallest 2-way power divider, a broadband (DC to 8 GHz) fixed attenuator and high directivity directional coupler in an impressively small form factor. Their integrated module line includes a voltage variable attenuator.

Westbond was showing off their Ultrasonic, Thermosonic, and Thermocompression Wire/Ribbon Bonders, Eutectic and Epoxy Die Bonders, Insulated Wire Bonders, and Pull Testers, LED Illuminators, Heated and Cold Workholders, Temperature Controllers, Ultrasonic Transducers, Ultrasonic Power Supplies, and Wire Despoolers. A lot of offerings on the assembly side.

UMS featured the X-band Tx-Rx chipset, which is claimed to be the complete solution for military and space phased array radar. The CHC3014 core chip offers a 6-bit phase shifter, a 6-bit attenuator, an additional 2-bit attenuator for tuning, and self-biased buffer amplifiers and switches. The CHA1014 low noise amplifier has a frequency range of 7 to 14 GHz and a gain of 17 dB. There are two driver amplifiers: the CHA5014 has a frequency range of 8.5 to 11 GHz and a gain of 20 dB, while the CHA5115 features a frequency range of 8 to 12 GHz and a gain of 23 dB. There are four high power amplifiers: CHA7114, CHA7115, CHA7215 and CHA8100, which cover frequencies from 8 to 11.5 GHz. The company also announced the development of its new GaN power transistors. At 15 W the CHK015A-SMA is an externally matched device up to C-band operation, with power gain >10 dB at 6 GHz and PAE > 45 % at 6 GHz. The 40 W CHK040A-SOA is also an externally matched device with up to S-band operation. Its power gain is >12 dB at 3 GHz and its PAE > 55 % at 3 GHz. Finally, the 50 W CHZ050A-SEA is internally matched with a frequency range of 5.75 to 6.25 GHz. Its power gain is > 8 dB and its PAE is > 35 %.