Microwave Journal

IMS 2012 By the Numbers

August 14, 2012

The IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) 2012 is a fading memory for approximately 7600 attending exhibitors and delegates, but is sure to be remembered for the celebration of the society’s 60th anniversary and the Montréal venue. While concern among some exhibitors over export restrictions and ITAR regulations may have resulted in a 12 percent lower turnout than 2011, the efforts by IMS 2012 chair Ke Wu and this year’s steering committee made sure the event ran smoothly.

Figure 1

Figure 1 IMS attendance numbers and exhibitor information from 2000 to 2012.

The symposium reported 841 paper submissions from 49 different countries and a total of 569 exhibitors from 21 countries. Among the non-exhibitors, 2635 delegates were registered for the technical program and 1464 registered for the exhibition only. In all, 57 countries were represented, with the United States and Canada leading in participation with 46 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Along with reported increases in attendees from Europe – notably Germany, France, UK and the Netherlands – the MTT-S also reported a 200 percent increase in attendees from China.

A look at the IMS attendance numbers over the past dozen years (see Figure 1) shows  a direct correlation between the number of exhibitors, exhibit visitors and total attendees, which since Hawaii (2007) has hovered between this year’s 7600 and a 9165 high set in Boston (2009). According to the data, exhibiting companies have demonstrated a good sense of knowing which markets will attract more local (exhibitor only) visitors and responded with higher staffing levels. Contrary to these fluctuations, the number of symposium attendees and exhibiting companies has held steady year-to-year, averaging 2500 delegates and 550 exhibiting companies over the past five years. The ratio of delegates (symposium and exhibit only) to exhibitors is also relatively flat (approximately 1 to 1), varying from a low of 0.78 (Long Beach, total attendance 11,405) to a high of 1.26 (Seattle, total attendance 7598). 

Apart from macro-economic factors such as the recent recession, the location of IMS strongly influences show attendance. Many exhibitors often ask how a host city gets selected. Every year, the MTT-S chooses the site for the symposium eight years ahead based on proposals from local chapters vying for hosting rights. The society takes into consideration the adequacy of the proposed site with regard to the proximity of a regional microwave industry and research community, adequate housing and convention hall facilities, available local steering committee leadership/management and exhibitor survey data (if available). The society is solely responsible for weighing these factors and deciding the location from among its chapters. Back in 2004, the winning proposal for 2012 went to Ke Wu and his team in Montréal.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Profile of new exhibitors at IMS 2012.

While the notion of crossing the border may have discouraged certain U.S. companies from participating, Montréal did have a positive effect on the international make-up of new exhibitors, which accounted for 10 percent of this year’s 550 individual vendors. New exhibitors mostly hailed from one of four regions (see Figure 2). Not surprisingly, Canadian-based companies took advantage of their local status resulting in a larger presence this year. Vendors from the U.S., Europe and China represented most of the remaining new exhibitors.

Chinese companies have definitely been increasing in numbers at both IMS and European Microwave Week (EuMW) for several years now. With subsidies from the Chinese government to exhibit at international trade shows, these vendors are financially supported (up to 40 percent of their costs) to market a wide range of microwave products outside of China. Offering all types of components from SAW filters, power amplifiers, crystal oscillators, passives components and cables, their presence provided visitors with a unique opportunity to compare and contrast products from a sizable portion of the global supply chain, from North America and abroad.

Being new to IMS, many of these exhibitors were situated toward the far right, left and rear of the long, L-shaped exhibition hall of the Palais de Congrès de Montréal. Visitors seeking out new exhibitors could find them in these quieter regions where many start-ups, foreign companies and some noteworthy technology companies relatively new to exhibiting at a microwave show shared neighboring real estate. Notable companies off the beaten path included Teseq, Mathworks (although not their first year), Texas Instruments and Chinese test equipment manufacturer, CETC 41.

Scattered throughout the exhibition were many lesser known companies that provide critical manufacturing services to the industry. When it comes to physical design and manufacturing, microwave components are finicky and so many attendees were on the look-out for helpful suppliers. Dozens of vendors offered a range of specialized parts, services and materials, from custom RF/EMI shielding enclosures to epoxy pre-forms and advanced ceramics. Small and nimble manufacturing specialists play a very important role supporting the high-mix, low-volume products developed by many businesses in the microwave industry. Having these companies present at this event provides engineers with an excellent opportunity to talk face-to-face with a very broad range of experts.

Of course, mainstay companies dominated the show floor with large, well-staffed booths, multiple demo stations, in-booth workshops and/or organized press conferences. These familiar companies supply the industry with test and measurement equipment (Agilent, Anritsu, Aeroflex, National Instruments, Rohde & Schwarz, and Maury Microwave), software (ANSYS, AWR, CST, Sonnet), semiconductors/RFICs/MMICs (M/A-COM, ADI, RFMD, TriQuint, Skyworks, NXP, Hittite, Freescale, Mitsubishi), cable/connectors/components (Carlisle, Emerson Connectivity, Teledyne, Anaren, K&L, Trak, RFMW) and subsystem/subassemblies (Cobham, MITEQ). The show floor also hosted the 2012 MicroApps, which was sponsored by Agilent and has become an excellent forum for application based presentations given to exhibition attendees. On Wednesday, Microwave Journal hosted the MicroApps Device Characterization and Advanced RF/Microwave Design Forum featuring talks from Agilent, Anritsu, AWR and Maury Microwave.

With approximately 550 exhibiting companies, it has become an impossible task for one individual to visit them all. Microwave Journal’s comprehensive IMS coverage is posted on the MWJ website and in the Microwave Flash Online Show Daily newsletters. The combined coverage features all the show-related product releases and editor reports from press conferences and vendor visits that took place in Montréal. The Microwave Journal IMS wrap-up article features news from nearly 100 different companies compiled by our editors and is available on the Microwave Journal website (www.microwavejournal.com/IMS2012WrapUp). In addition to product news, the IMS online show daily features reports on special events such as a recap of the business opportunity for GaN panel, the MicroApps Device Characterization panel, summary of Richardson RFPD expert presentations/Q&A, video interviews/demos and our IMS 2012 photo gallery.

Test and Measurement Highlights

The larger exhibitors, mainly representing test and measurement suppliers, simulation/design software and semiconductor manufacturers, were located toward the center exhibition entrance. Among them, Agilent was surrounded by its technology partners at “Agilent Avenue” demoing a wide variety of new products including ADS 2012, EMPro 2012, GoldenGate for RFIC simulation (v 2012.07) and SystemVue 2012.06. New test and measurement equipment was also on display and included a USB peak power sensor and the latest PNA-L network analyzer. Anritsu focused attention on solutions for accurate, broadband Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) measurements with multiple demo stations highlighting their state-of-the-art equipment.  The company unveiled their unique broadband VNA system capable of conducting single sweeps from 70 kHz to 140 GHz.

Rohde & Schwarz demonstrated the R&S FSW-K6 pulse measurement option for the R&S FSW series of high-performance signal and spectrum analyzers, which is particularly suited to evaluating the performance of radar systems and all other applications that employ pulsed signals. Available in three models for frequency ranges up to 26.5 GHz, the FSW has an analysis bandwidth of 160 MHz, making it well suited for measuring very narrow pulses and broadband systems such as emerging IEEE 802.11ac networks. National Instruments announced early access support for testing next-generation 802.11ac wireless local area network (WLAN) chipsets and devices. NI’s 802.11ac WLAN test solution provides flexibility in testing 802.11ac devices in addition to testing 802.11a/b/g/n devices.

Aeroflex added IEEE 802.11ac capability to its S-Series RF signal generator and analyzer product line. The S-Series was designed for use by engineers in WLAN research, design, and manufacturing, specifically targeting top-of-the-range performance at a mid-range price. At 200 MHz, the S-Series offers the industry’s widest bandwidth, along with other standard features such as level and frequency settling times that are 53faster than competitors at 100 µs and very low phase noise performance (–135 dB/Hz at 1 GHz, 20 kHz offset).

EDA Highlights

CST announced enhancements to the Microwave Studio transient solver addressing memory efficiency and the robustness of explicit time domain methods and the accuracy of the Perfect Boundary Approximation. The upcoming 2013 release will allow users to solve more than 20 billion unknowns, using cluster computing and a message passing interface. Remcom was featuring the new capabilities in its XFdtd release 7 (FDTD-based modeling and simulation software), which now supports twisting structures such as a waveguide during a missile flight.

Other software vendors such as AWR, ANSYS, Agilent and Sonnet were touting new integration capabilities in their software, allowing circuit designers easier access to 3D and planar EM simulation from within their circuit design products such as ADS, Microwave Office (MWO) and ANSYS Designer or through third-party tools from Cadence and Mathworks.

Closing the gap between test verification and simulation software, Agilent and AWR were demonstrating tighter integration between their simulation and measurement software platforms. AWR was featuring demos of data exchanges between MWO and its parent company NI’s flagship product, LabView. AWR was also demonstrating its latest version of a 3D FEM simulator called Analyst, which will support EM simulation of parameterized 3D structures such as wire-bonds and ball grid arrays from within MWO. ANSYS was also addressing the need for 3D EM simulation at the circuit designer’s fingertips with HFSS Solver-on-Demand available in ANSYS Designer and Cadence Allegro and Virtuoso products. Agilent also surprised many attendees by announcing the pending support for X-parameters by ANSYS Designer.

Semiconductor and Integrated Device Manufacturers (MMICs/RFICs)

No less than a dozen companies were featuring new products based on Gallium Nitride (GaN).  RFMD announced a highly-efficient 280 W pulsed GaN RF matched power transistor. The company also announced multiple new products including four high-performance front end modules integrating the power amplifier, LNA, and switch functionality into a single plastic QFN package for next generation WiFi applications.

TriQuint showcased newly-released GaN products including a packaged 20 W Ku-Band GaN power amplifier fabricated on TriQuint’s production-released, 0.25 µm GaN on SiC process that operates from 14 to 16 GHz and typically provides 43 dBm of saturated output power, 30 percent power-added efficiency and 23 dB of small signal gain.

Just prior to IMS, Freescale Semiconductor announced that it was introducing its first GaN devices, initially targeting the cellular infrastructure market, with potential future applications including avionics, radar, ISM and software-defined radio. Freescale was also highlighting their Airfast RF power product line, which now includes at least one solution for each cellular band and supports both small and large cell base station deployments. These products range from 900 MHz to 2.2 GHz with various powers and configurations.

Skyworks Solutions unveiled two new series of high performance and low power LNAs for multiple industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) bands and next generation cellular infrastructure applications. The company also introduced a line of high power RF switches – up to 100 W – supporting diverse market applications including TD-LTE infrastructure base stations, repeaters and low frequency military/microwave UHF and UVF radios.

Hittite Microwave featured 24 new products at the show including a low noise, wideband, fractional-N phase-locked-loop (PLL) with integrated VCO capable of generating continuous frequencies from 25 to 8400 MHz and featuring a synthesizer Figure of Merit of –230 and –227 dBc/Hz in integer and fractional modes, respectively. Double sideband RMS jitter is less than 180 fs and the noise floor is –170 dBc/Hz in fundamental mode at 2 GHz.

M/A-COM Technology Solutions showcased new products for wireless backhaul, CATV, optical communications, and aerospace and defense applications, including a 42 GHz SmartSet chipset for point-to-point wireless backhaul with a 1 W power amplifier with 22 dB gain and 38 dBm OIP3,
350 W GaN Smart Pallet designed for S-Band air traffic control radar with over 60 percent drain efficiency, and a highly linear Edge QAM VGA designed for CATV head-end modules.

NXP Semiconductors demonstrated its full portfolio of first-generation GaN products and discussed its vision and roadmap related to GaN. Currently the company offers engineering samples of its first-generation GaN products including amplifiers for 50 and 100 W broadband applications. Live demonstrations included a multi-stage GaN line-up covering a 200 to 2700 MHz frequency band with best-in-class linearity. With the high-impedance 50 V GaN process, broadband amplifiers can be designed on a single transistor.

Peregrine Semiconductor Corp. introduced the company’s SP3T RF switch, featuring low insertion loss of 0.45 dB at 1 GHz and 0.55 dB at 2.5 GHz, and high isolation of 40 dB at 1 GHz and 30 dB at 2.5 GHz. Additionally, it provides excellent ESD tolerance of 4500 V HBM and 250 V MM on all ports, and is available in a miniature, 8-lead 1.5 × 1.5 mm DFN package.

In the Beginning

Since 1972, when 19 vendors with table-top displays were allowed to co-locate with the symposium, the exhibition has provided an invaluable opportunity to discover the latest and greatest in microwave components, semiconductors, materials, test and simulation technology and related manufacturing services. MWJ Editor-in-Chief, Ted Saad noted the occasion in his editorial, The 1972 IEEE-GMTT International Microwave Symposium:“Despite the largest attendance since 1957, the IEEE-GMTT International Microwave Symposium in Arlington Heights, IL was a lively, well-run affair. The meeting was highlighted by a number of provocative items, stimulated by a competent Steering Committee. It was the first MTT Symposium to have paid exhibits by microwave companies. Despite misgiving on the part of at least one diehard, it appears the experiment was a success.”