Microwave Journal

The Premier of EDI CON

May 13, 2013

Chart 01

EDICON 2013 First Year Highlights

  • 2489 total attendees
  • 1255 unique delegates
  • 248 exhibitors
  • 53 exhibiting companies
  • 22 attending media organizations
  • 23 countries of origin

Approximately 2000 attendees gathered over 2 ½ days in Beijing, China for the inaugural Electronic Design Innovation Conference (EDI CON) held in March at the Beijing International Convention Center. The event, organized by Microwave Journal China, parent company Horizon House and publishing partner – ACT International, was developed in collaboration with leading multi-national, RF/microwave companies to provide a technical program and exhibition targeting working Chinese engineers. As an industry-driven conference, the program emphasized training and applied techniques in the areas of device measurements and computer-based modeling, design, system integration and use of commercial products. State-of-the-industry content provided by participating companies attracted engineers from Beijing and beyond eager to learn from visiting and regional experts.

The Plenary Session

The opening day ceremony began with a two hour keynote session on design innovation in China and abroad featuring perspectives from academia, private industry, a leading mobile communications market research firm and the European Space Agency. EDI CON 2013 Honorary Chair Dr. Professor Song Junde of the Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunications set the stage with his 20 minute talk on the “Present and Future of RF/Microwave and High-Speed Digital Devices and Systems.” As a leading telecommunication expert in China, Dr. Song regularly advises the Beijing government and private industry on technology trends and programs throughout China, from wireless industrial monitoring to the development of wireless smart cities. Dr. Song discussed his country’s need to leverage China’s manufacturing strengths with a developing culture of “indigenous innovation” to create the engineering resources necessary to meet the country’s future information technology needs.

This theme was reinforced by the president of Agilent Technologies Electronic Measurement Group, Guy Séné, who provided a historical perspective of the company’s 20+ year commitment to supporting high technology innovation in China and throughout the world. A presentation on business opportunities for the new age of the mobile broadband market in China was delivered by senior analyst, Guang Yang from the Strategy Analytics’ Beijing office. Speaking in his native Mandarin, Guang Yang encouraged the standing room only crowd that they had chosen a field with considerable technical challenges and opportunities ahead. With 1.1 billion mobile subscribers in China, mobile penetration is over 80 percent, yet broadband penetration is only at 13 percent. This news also bodes well for multinational and domestic IC manufacturers looking for a promising market opportunity.

After discussing technology and markets in China, the next keynote moved on to a global perspective of the satellite communication developments that are being spearheaded by the European Space Agency as described in a talk by Bertram Arbesser-Rastburg, head of ESA-ESTEC. With several papers on satellite communications and navigation systems slated for the technical program, Arbesser-Rastburg’s presentation helped highlight the global interest in space.

The first plenary session recessed for a tea/coffee break held in the exhibition space, giving attendees their first opportunity to engage with the nearly 50 exhibitors participating in this first-ever event. The aisles between the exhibition stands were full to capacity as delegates made their first tour of the vendors offering solutions in test & measurement equipment, design software, semiconductor devices, IC modeling solutions, a variety of active and passive components, materials, prototype manufacturing equipment, cables and connectors.

Back in the main conference hall, the second half of the plenary session commenced with three talks emphasizing design innovation within China. Representing telecommunication trends and future requirements from the perspective of a major Chinese carrier, Dr. Gaungyi Liu, senior researcher for China Mobile Research Institute, gave a talk, “Microwave Technology from Backhaul to Access – Opportunity for Mobile Communications.” Discussing the business need for carriers to reduce their cost per bit under the increasing demand for broadband accessibility, Dr. Liu provided the context for developing a number of approaches that may help carriers achieve 103spectrum efficiency.

Providing more detail at the hardware level for the systems described by Dr. Liu, Deng Jie, general manager of ZTE Microwave Products Group, gave a talk on “Microwave Radios, Today and Tomorrow.” Jie provided insights into current 3G/4G macro network backhaul and small cell backhaul systems that are currently being developed and deployed. Deng Jie also presented future radio trends in high throughput/high output power systems and low power consumption/low cost systems which are being pursued at ZTE Microwave.

The final keynote talk to the plenary gathering was focused on some of the research being conducted at one of the very important government-supported research institutes in Beijing. Feng Keming, director of the Beijing Institute of Radio Metrology and Measurement (BIRMM) gave a talk on recent progress in metrology of radio and time/frequency sources at BIRMM. Feng discussed the institute’s work in radiometer calibration, standardization of microwave power and use of terahertz pulse for time domain calibration. Feng is an engaging speaker and highly respected technologist who kept the audience’s attention as he discussed the institute’s work in active and passive hydrogen masers and rubidium atomic clocks for satellite applications.

Welcome Reception and an Early Rise

Ideally, conferences offer an opportunity to exchange knowledge and perspectives between all participants. During the keynote talks and technical sessions, it is the presenter providing the lion’s share of information to the audience. But during the question and answer periods and the social events, it is the attending delegation that gets to share their insights with speakers and each other. Thus, social events at conferences serve an important role in supporting the spread of information.  The welcome reception sponsored by Agilent Technologies brought together technologists from around the world, in many cases for the first time ever.

In this setting, exhibitors, delegates, speakers and VIPs were able to introduce themselves in a less formal environment and conduct some personal networking. Entertained with traditional live Chinese music, paper cutting and a buffet, reception attendees were able to share their thoughts on some of the topics raised during the keynote talks, meet some of the presenters on deck and discover the common bonds of being a member of the global high-frequency electronics industry.

Challenging the local electronic design community to get ahead of the notorious Beijing morning traffic, the technical sessions began at 08:30 with peer reviewed papers presented in 20 minute sessions occurring across four concurrent tracks. Content was organized by track theme addressing 1. Design, 2. Measurement/Modeling, 3. System Engineering and 4. Commercial Resources. Individual topics ranged from specific circuit design areas such as power amplifiers or VCOs/PLLs to calibration techniques to fundamentals of specific communication standards.

While the majority of papers could be considered classical RF and microwave in nature, at least a third of the papers focused on high-speed digital design and the remainder covered EMI/EMC topics. Presentations were either delivered in Mandarin by local engineers or in English by company representatives that had travelled from the U.S., Europe, Singapore or other English-speaking region. The event organizers arranged for translators to provide real-time English to Chinese audio for Chinese engineers attending an English language talk.

Tea breaks, Workshops and Exhibition Time

The first tea break was scheduled to start with the opening of the exhibition for its first full day. As delegates and exhibition visitors poured into the exhibition hall located right next to the conference rooms, vendors started their morning with a wave of engineers looking for information on the latest and greatest in RF/microwave commercial technology. Taking place in mid-March, EDI CON 2013 closely follows Mobile World Congress (February) in Barcelona and DesignCon (January/February) in Santa Clara, CA. As a result, a number of vendors were showcasing products that had just recently been introduced onto the world stage and at EDI CON were making their premier appearance in China. Vendors such as Agilent, Anritsu, National Instruments, Rohde & Schwarz, LeCroy and Tektronix were each able to unveil new products to attendees and around 30 invited members of the press.

Following the morning sessions of papers and delegate lunch, certain exhibitors and event sponsors took the stage to conduct individual workshops and panel sessions on a host of topics. RF CMOS and UltraCMOS technologies were discussed in workshops from TowerJazz and Peregrine Semiconductor, respectively; advances in compound semiconductor technology was the topic covered in a workshop by WIN Semiconductors and OMMIC; nonlinear design and load-pull techniques were presented by vendors Maury Microwave and Focus Microwaves. MMIC design; power amplifier design, Doherty PAs, envelope tracking and digital pre-distortion workshops were distributed throughout both afternoons of workshops as were workshops on measurement techniques for RF and high-speed digital design, on- and off-wafer calibration methods, MIMO beamforming and modeling antenna systems to name a few.

Closing out both full days of the conference were several sponsored marquee panel sessions that offered attendees the chance to directly engage with experts. The special panels discussed GaN technology, EDA design flows and integration featuring Agilent, AWR, ANSYS and CST, connectivity technology sponsored by Mini-Circuits and Mitron, digital pre-distortion (Altera and Texas Instruments). For each panel, individual speakers provided a technology overview followed by a moderated conversation between the panelist and audience.

Richardson RFPD sponsored a standing room-only (180+) session on GaN technology with panelists from Freescale, M/A-Com Technology Solutions, Microsemi, Nitronex, TriQuint and Scintera offering different perspectives on the state of GaN. Spirent Communications sponsored the panel session on MIMO OTA measurement techniques featuring Spirent, ETS-Lindgren, Bluetest, and the China Academy of Telecommunication Research – TMC. This highly specialized topic drew an intimate audience, many of whom stayed past the end of the conference to engage the speakers with questions and comments offline.

Wrap-Up

First year events present various challenges and unknowns for organizers, sponsors and attendees alike. Aside from the basic infrastructure that needs to be built – the website, registration, sales and promotion organization, marketing, technical committee and paper management systems – new shows ask people to take a leap of faith. Microwave JournalChina and Horizon House asked our clients and readers to believe in a new type of conference, one that relied on the industry itself for the bulk of the technical program and our supporters’ ideas for a more engaging delegate/exhibitor experience. The standing room-only attendance, the professionalism of delegates and exhibition visitors and their knowledge, experience levels and great interest in the technology being presented in the conference and on the exhibition floor indicate that this formula works. We look forward to your thoughts on how to expand and improve the EDI CON program well into the future. That’s what industry-driven is all about.