Microwave Journal

MTT-S IMS 2015 - Wearables Take Flight

May 28, 2015

The most prevalent theme throughout IMS 2015 in Phoenix, AZ was the future development of the Internet of Things (IoT), including applications such as wearable technology, connected medical devices, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and machine-to-machine communications. The opening and closing plenary speakers addressed medical applications, and a wearable display area was part of the exhibition floor. This included a mind controlled car race and demos of a pet tracking device and wireless breathalyzer. 

Another hot topic at IMS was 5G communications. Test and measurement and semiconductor companies shared their perspectives in a special MicroApps panel session organized by Microwave Journal. There were also a growing number of talks and products addressing the NewSpace market as commercial companies are starting to participate in the space market. The space industry is demanding lower cost, lighter weight and smaller form factor antennas and components. The same demands will be made on high frequency products for the growing commercial UAV market, which is expected to grow quickly.

The Microwave Journal editors were walking the exhibition floor meeting with companies and learning about their new products. Here’s a summary of what we saw:

Software, Test and Measurement

Accel-RF, a manufacturer of test systems for accelerated life testing, was highlighting their turnkey burn-in test system. The automated system provides DC bias and RF drive to the devices being tested, covering either 1 to 4 or 8 to 12 GHz. Included software handles the data acquisition, storage and presentation. The burn-in test system has a capacity of 16 channels per tray with multiple trays, minimizing the cost per channel for production applications. The system is capable of accelerated aging and parametric testing of GaAs, GaN, SiC, InP and SiGe devices and RFICs.

Art-FiArt-Fi was demonstrating SARborg, a interesting robot that runs through an array of SAR tests completely hands-free. They have “roboticized” the entire SAR testing portion for mobile phone testing. SARborg can run about 200 consecutive tests hands-free in just over an hour. A few years ago, such testing might have taken more than a week.

Anritsu released the VectorStar® ME7838A4 4-port broadband VNA that features a broadband sweep from 70 kHz to 110/125 GHz and utilizes the smallest mmWave modules. It provides on-wafer and signal integrity engineers with a new level of performance when conducting differential measurements. A key advantage is the integration of the 3743A mmWave modules. Utilizing nonlinear transmission line technology (NLTL), the modules are much more compact than alternatives, for easy mounting on space-limited wafer probe station platens. Modules are available that can extend the 4-port to 145 GHz.

They also introduced Intermodulation Distortion (IMD) options for the VectorStar® platform that expand the measurement capability of the VNA family to meet the needs of design and production engineers who must conduct highly accurate and efficient IMD measurements on amplifier designs. Included is the new IMDView software that creates an advanced, easy to use graphical user interface (GUI) that simplifies complex IMD measurements and allows for more thorough IMD evaluation.

Anritsu expanded its ShockLine™ family of affordable vector network analyzers (VNAs) with the introduction of the Performance ShockLine MS46500B series. The new instrument series lowers the cost-of-test and speeds time to market in numerous testing applications up to 8.5 GHz, including designing and manufacturing mobile network equipment, mobile devices, automotive cables, high-speed data interconnects and system integration components.

ANSYS was highlighting several new advances in their suite of electromagnetic and multi-physics simulation software. The company’s flagship 3D EM product, HFSS, is now fully integrated into a single design environment known as the ANSYS Electronics Desktop, which includes the company’s linear RF circuit simulator (included) and nonlinear circuit simulators (optional) which includes Harmonic Balance, transient and circuit envelop simulation engines. As a key feature of the new Desktop, the company held a special information session for industry component vendors, OEMs and system integrators to introduce the new patent pending 3D EM (HFSS) Component libraries for next generation wireless design & integration. As communication systems push the limits of component size, weight and performance, this feature supports the workflow of the future by allowing organizations to share accurate design data among engineering groups while protecting the manufacturer’s IP, critical to developing next generation complexity in a practical manner. 

The company was also highlighting other developments to support improved workflows through collaboration with NI (formerly AWR Corporation) on the development of a seamless two-way link between ANSYS HFSS and NI AWR Design Environment™ software.  The initial one-way link from the NI AWR Design Environment into HFSS introduced at IMS2014, now enables RF/microwave designers to seamlessly tie HFSS extracted S-parameters back into NI AWR software. This expanded flow between HFSS and Microwave Office leverages the latest implementation of the ANSYS Electronic Desktop and NI AWR Design Environment EM Socket architecture. 

To support the adoption of the new capabilities in the ANSYS product suite, the company announced that it will host a series of regional lunch and learn workshops, starting in June, to bring the benefits of face-to-face education to various technology hubs throughout the US. These free events will expand the content presented in ANSYS’ popular webinar series, allowing more time for hands-on demos and Q&A with attendees. Registration and the full listing of venues for the inaugural workshop “ANSYS HFSS 3-D Layout for Planar RF Circuit Simulation” is available on the ANSYS events page.


Computer Simulation Technology(CST) released CST STUDIO SUITE® – Student Edition, a special free version of its flagship electromagnetic simulation package designed to help the engineers of tomorrow to get to grips with the basics of electromagnetic theory. It contains the versatile high-frequency time domain and frequency domain solvers as well as the static and thermal solvers, and is supported by a set of online examples showing how classic textbook problems can be solved with simulation. CST STUDIO SUITE – Student Edition has some limitations to prevent commercial use but includes the full intuitive modeling interface, material library and field visualization features.

Also, a partnership was announced to integrate 3D electromagnetic simulation technology from CST into Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which will enable customers to create and analyze electromagnetic behavioral models that simulate device function in a wide range of frequencies. 

Copper Mountain introduced a new series of high-performance VNAs (the Cobalt series) that offers an optimal price-performance combination for S-parameter measurement between 100 kHz and 20 GHz. To achieve high performance and an affordable cost, the Cobalt VNAs incorporate new test grade coaxial connector technology and advanced ultra-wideband directional coupler design. They also incorporate a hybrid dual-core DSP+FPGA signal processing engine, combined with new frequency synthesizer technologies, to improve measurement speed. The C1220 analyzer has a frequency range of 100 kHz to 20 GHz with a typical dynamic range of 145 dB, an output power adjustment range of -60 to +10 dBm, and measures up to 500,001 measurement points per sweep. It can reach a measurement speed of 10 microseconds per point and has dimensions of 14.8" x 16.3" x 5.5" (376 x 415 x 140 mm). The C1209 features many of the same technical specifications and is capable of analyzing the frequency range from 100 kHz to 9 GHz with dimensions of 14.8" x 8.3" x 3.7" (377 x 210 x 95 mm) and a weight of 4.8 kg.

The company also demonstrated antenna testing with its vector reflectometers which cover a frequency range from 85 MHz to 14 GHz, perform lab-quality measurements of S11 parameters in various presentation formats. The Vector reflectometers are is also fully programmable using a SCPI-like command set. From its compact VNA line, they had live demonstrations of its S5048 two-port instrument testing a filter. The PC-driven, portable S5048 offers a 123 dB dynamic range (typical, 10 Hz IF bandwidth) and measures the S11, S21, S12 and S22 parameters for a variety of applications from 20 kHz to 4.8 GHz. The company also demonstrated how its Planar 814/1 VNA is capable of a 145 dB dynamic range (typical, 1 Hz IF bandwidth) performs in a load pull system. The PC-driven, two-port VNA measures S11, S21, S12 and S22 parameters in a variety of applications from 100 kHz to 8 GHz. It is also ATE compatible, rack mountable and easy to program.

Delcross was showing off a new release (version 4.0) of EMIT that provides an advance in cosite interference modeling and simulation, providing speed, data management, multi-fidelity models and diagnostic tools necessary for the rapid identification and mitigation of interference in harsh RF environments. With EMIT’s newly optimized solver engine, analyzing realistic multi-system scenarios over a frequency range wide enough to include all in-band and out-of-band interference effects (including intermodulation due to non-linear phenomenon) can easily be accomplished on a modest laptop computer.

Eastern OptX introduced the Series 8000 test system that addresses the need to test multiple RF radios or wireless systems over different propagation paths, simultaneously. The Series 8000 is a multi-channel, bi-directional radio path replicator that allows full duplex operation for two or more radios over varying propagation paths and RF frequencies. It provides the path to true propagation performance for wireless systems that alleviates field-testing saving time and reducing costs.

With the increased interest in 60 GHz Communication Links, Farran Technology has developed a new range of frequency extension products designed for this growing mm-wave test area. The Frequency Communication Extender (FCE) range is designed to work with an arbitrary waveform generator in the up-conversion chain and a suitable oscilloscope at the receiver side. The system takes external LO to allow for the RF signal to be swept across the full 57 – 65 GHz band of interest for 60 GHz communication systems. The system is designed to produce output P1 dB of +20 dBm from the transmitter and a receiver noise figure of less than 10 dB (~ 7dB typical). Applications include antenna testing, 60 GHz backhaul equipment testing and 60 GHz system chip measurements.

Holzworth recently introduced the HSM18001B RF synthesizer module that is a broadband signal source (10 MHz to 20 GHz, 0.001 Hz minimum step size) providing excellent spectral purity from sub-VHF through Ku-Band. Typical phase noise at 18 GHz is -106 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset. The HSM18001B has an adjustable output power dynamic range covering -20 to +20 dBm in 0.01 dB steps as well as an integrated pulse modulation function with rise and fall times as fast as 10 ns. While performance is crucial for many applications, reliability is extremely valuable if not critical for most. This compact, CW source has a field proven mean time between failures (MTBF) of greater than 240,000 hours, making it optimal for both commercial and defense applications.

Ingun showcased its high current test probes, including the HSS range, which depending on the series can transmit 400 A of continuous current. For secure transmission of high currents, the plunger of the high current test probes is divided into two parts. During the stroke motion both plunger parts are deflected away from each other in a radial direction. This causes the plunger parts to press against the barrel and the internal resistance is reduced. Using this principle, high current transfers with minimal heat generation are possible. The test probes are used in many industries and applications such as measurement and testing in production as well as mounted contact elements. A further application is precise measurements, where test probes with the lowest possible internal resistance are needed.


As usual, Keysight Technologies was a significant presence at IMS: an expansive booth with 25 demos, 10 MicroApps papers and participation at the 5G panel session, additional presentations in the technical sessions, and support of the RF Boot Camp, student design competition and STEM activities. 24 ecosystem partners occupied the “neighborhood” around their booth.

The 25 demos of Keysight’s hardware and software products included

· ADS 2015 and the electro-thermal simulator, which models the thermal characteristics of an RFIC or MMIC and its complete packaging system
· 5G system-level design and verification software
· mmWave and active device characterization
· Fast spurious testing using a PNA
· 5G, mmWave, IoT, radar and EW test solutions from Keysight’s signal generators, analyzers and oscilloscopes
· LTE-A MIMO measurements
· Muliport network analysis with modular instruments

Jay Alexander, Keysight’s Chief Technical Officer, briefed the press and market analysts on market and technology trends and how Keysight is anticipating future requirements. These trends include the definition and development of 5G, increasing use of the mmWave spectrum, the growth of electronics and wireless in new platforms such as autos and so-called wearables. These trends aren’t limited to commercial markets; he cited UAVs and new space platforms as driving future aerospace and defense test and measurement capabilities.

Maury Microwave released the LLC-series of bidirectional airline couplers that represents a breakthrough in high-power coupler technology. The differentiating features of the LLC-series bidirectional coupler include high power handling, high directivity, low insertion loss and broadband performance. These characteristics make the LLC coupler ideal for amplifier power monitoring, base station integration and test and measurement applications (including load pull, antenna test, general lab, etc.). They also recently released their SC-185 1.85mm 67 GHz cable assembly continues the Stability™ legacy with excellent amplitude and phase stability with flexure, reliable and repeatable measurements, durable, ruggedized and crush-resistant, offering longer flex life. Earlier this year, Maury announced the acquisition of Anteverta-mw. They have recently improved their mixed signal active load pull system now going to 40 GHz with a 40x improvement in gain compression testing speed.

Microwave Innovation Group (MiG) outlined significant developments of its WASP-NET fast hybrid EM CAD and optimization tool. The new 3D WNModeler, with a powerful user-friendly graphical 3D editor in addition to the further improved text editor, enables users to combine full 3D generality and flexibility of user-defined structure with WASP-NET’s high calculation speed. Importantly, lossy materials as well as dielectric and ferrite materials with frequency dependent tensor permittivity/permeability can be included at the click of a mouse via sub-windows. A particularly attractive feature of the graphic 3D modeler is that 3D CAD data of components, components parts or antennas can be imported via standard data formats and then parameratized. Also, a new advanced fast integral equation solver, based on a hybrid SBR-PTD-MoM technique completes WASP-Net’s hybrid mode-matching multi-solver EM CAD tool. Large antenna structures, including complete feed-networks can be calculated efficiently.

NI AWRNI (formerly AWR Corporation) announced that NI AWR Design Environment™ V12—the first major software release in 2015 — is now available as a pre-release to select customers, partners and evaluators. They showed the latest release at IMS that boasts new load-pull and antenna- and radar-specific features, as well as ease-of-use improvements, speed enhancements and third-party integration flows. They also featured AWR Connected™ for DWT, a new NI AWR Design Environment™ flow that enables integration with Design Workshop Technologies’ (DWT) design-rule checking (DRC) and/or layout vs. schematic (LVS) tools for printed circuit board (PCB) and module design.  The new AWR Connected for DWT DRC and LVS flow can run in one of two ways: in the full view/DWT user-interface (UI) mode or transparently from within the Microwave Office UI.  AWR Connected for AMCAD provides ready access between NI AWR Design Environment™ V12 software and AMCAD Engineering stability analysis (STAN) software.

NI was showing off their complete solution for RF power amplifier testing, from design validation through manufacturing test. It features industry-leading measurement performance and tight synchronization with reference solutions for load pull, digital predistortion (DPD), and envelope tracking (ET). Also dramatically reduce test times, time to market, and overall cost of test with solutions for PA characterization and production test. Also on display was their Semiconductor Test System (STS) series features production-ready test systems that combine the NI PXI platform, TestStand test management software, and LabVIEW graphical programming inside a fully enclosed test head. Its “tester-in-a-head” design houses all the key components of a production tester including system controllers; DC, AC, and RF instrumentation; device under test (DUT) interfacing; and device handler/prober docking mechanics.

NXP unveiled new plug-and play evaluation tools designed to enable fast and easy testing of new RF energy applications. Designed from the ground up the evaluation tools feature control and measurement functions efficiently viewable from one screen. It also saves development time by eliminating the need for low-level programming and enabling all possible algorithms to be set and tested at once. To further shorten time to market, the evaluation kit allows developers to use LabVIEW codes as example codes for final programming. This added functionality allows design teams to test without interrupting lab design workflows.

Pickering Interfaces focuses on switching solutions for PXI, LXI and PCI test and simulation applications. Their large catalog – over 1000 PXI modules – includes mechanical switches with frequency coverage to 65 GHz and solid-state switches to 6 GHz. Pickering will develop a custom solution for requirements that can’t be met with a catalog product, then add the custom product to the catalog. They are known for serving customers who are “too small” for their larger competitors.

QRC showcased their WBT-200 Wide Band Transcorder (WBT), which can record and playback RF signals from 50 MHz to 6 GHz with bandwidths ranging from 800 KHz to 80 MHz.  The WBT-200 has two digital transceivers, each with 40 MHz capture bandwidth, and high-speed data streaming on two built-in solid state SATA drives (one TB each). There are two models to choose from: the WBT-200 has a touch-screen GUI; the WBT-210 is a rack-mount unit with no display.  Both have a GigE port and two USB ports.  It is a self-contained, software-defined platform with an i7 processor and Linux OS.  Application programs are written in either C++ or Python.  The WBT-200 is a field-portable wireless test system for detecting and recording interference, signal validation, and wireless signal playback over the air.

RADX Technologies showed the technology insertion capabilities of the LibertyGT® family of Modular, COTS, Multifunction Software Defined Synthetic Instruments (SDSI®) by demonstrating the insertion of a National Instruments® PXIe-5668R 26.5 GHz Vector Signal Analyzer into a RADX LibertyGT 1211B (LGT1211B), effectively extending the system’s upper measurement frequency range from 6 GHz to 26.5 GHz, with no impact on user developed Test Program Sets (TPS) or other user applications. The demo exploits the modular hardware and SDSI software architecture, illustrates how customers can seamlessly and selectively upgrade and update SDSIs to address evolving test system requirements or COTS hardware obsolescence issues by simply replacing one COTS module with another without affecting user software.

Remcom released a new Circuit Element Optimizer for XFdtd® Electromagnetic Simulation Software that optimizes matching circuits for several antennas serving multiple bands simultaneously. XFdtd’s Circuit Element Optimizer determines lumped element values based on the following goals: radiation efficiency, system efficiency, and S-parameters. This simplifies the antenna matching workflow because the circuit elements remain in the electromagnetic layout structure during optimization.

R&SRohde & Schwarz previewed the ultrasensitive R&S FSWP phase noise analyzer and VCO tester. With the instrument, users can measure the spectral purity of signal sources such as generators, synthesizers and VCOs more quickly than with any other solution, it is claimed. The high-end instrument covers a frequency range up to 50 GHz and offers a top dynamic range. The extremely low phase noise of its local oscillator coupled with cross-correlation even makes it possible to easily measure signal sources that in the past required complex test setups or could not be measured at all.

Thanks to its fully digital signal processing, the R&S FSWP performs complex measurements at the push of a button and features intuitive touchscreen operation. It can quickly and easily measure the phase noise of pulsed sources as well as residual phase noise under pulsed conditions. The R&S FSWP is therefore ideal for both aerospace and defense and automotive applications, e.g. for manufacturers of radar components and synthesizers. It can also be upgraded to a signal and spectrum analyzer. The R&S FSWP8 and R&S FSWP26 models for the 8 and 26 GHz frequency ranges will be available in late summer 2015.

To support developers in research regarding 5G mobile networks, Rohde & Schwarz showed the test setup it offers for wideband applications in the millimeter-wave range. The solution consists of an R&S SMW200A vector signal generator and an R&S FSW signal and spectrum analyzer in combination with an R&S RTO oscilloscope. When equipped with the R&S FSW-B2000 option, the R&S FSW provides an analysis bandwidth of 2 GHz. The R&S FSW67 model additionally allows signal analysis in the frequency range up to 67 GHz.

Signal Hound updated its free Spike™ Spectrum Analysis software by creating a variety of digital modulation analysis tools for its BB60C and BB60A USB-powered real-time spectrum analyzers. Spike software version 3.0.8 now provides constellation diagrams, symbol tables, error-vector magnitude (EVM) measurements, and bit pattern matching analysis tools for a wide range of modulation types. Coupled with a Signal Hound BB60C or BB60A spectrum analyzer, the updated Spike software includes real-time tools to analyze digitally modulated signals with bandwidths to 27 MHz and frequencies from 9 kHz to 6 GHz.

The Sonnet team was briefing customers on the added capabilities in Release 15 of Sonnet Professional Suites. Internal multi-level co-calibrated ports and components can now be fully de-embedded on different metal levels, useful for transistors and MIM/MOM capacitors. The interface with Cadence Virtuoso has been redesigned to streamline EM analysis; the most frequently used features are on the main dialog box, with settings that mimic the design process. The GUIs for the GDSII, DXF and Gerber translators have also been redesigned to be more intuitive; circuit placement, box size and cell size controls have been added. Layout editing has been streamlined by adding various capabilities.

VDI continues to improve and extend capabilities of millimeter-wave / terahertz test and measurement solutions. Recent developments include a 1.1 to 1.5 THz VNA extension module and miniature VNA extension modules (25% the size of standard extension modules) up to 330 GHz, with more modules under development. VDI also offers a wide variety of transmit and receive systems from 50 GHz to ~3 THz, including a source with 1 mW output power at 1 THz.

Semiconductors, Devices and Components

Analog Devices introduced a highly integrated, 4-channel, 24-GHz receiver down-converter MMIC that achieves a 10 dB noise figure that is 3 dB better than competing devices, using 50 percent less power and assembled in a small, cost-effective 5 × 5 mm LFCSP plastic package. Each of the device’s four on-chip receive channels use a simple, single-ended connection to four individual antennas, which simplifies RF-transmission-line design and PCB layout, and reduces board size. The receiver down-converter then simultaneously handles four receive signals directly to produce a high-quality, high-amplitude baseband signal that easily connects to one of ADI’s four-channel analog-to-digital converters. The ADF5904 also incorporates an integrated temperature sensor that eliminates the need for discrete sensing components that otherwise can require additional time and resources to calibrate during system assembly and test.

In a separate booth, the aerospace and defense segment of ADI was displaying their integrated module capabilities, including very high power amplifiers. Combining 500 watt, GaN PA building blocks, the company has developed a 2 kW pulsed PA at X-Band (5 μs pulse width and 12 percent duty cycle). Four of these can be combined to achieve 8 kW and four 8 kW combined to achieve 32 kW. The PAs target ground and shipborne radar. A 200 watt PA covering 2 to 18 GHz is in development.

Anokiwave announced the completion of a Series B round of funding. The round was led by Mr. JP Carney, CEO and co-founder of Revolabs, Dr. Lamberto Raffaelli, and COM DEV International Ltd. Anokiwave will use the funds to continue to expand its engineering team, launch development laboratory facilities and expand rapidly innovative products for mmW 5G and complementary markets.

API Technologies released Distributed Antenna System (DAS) solutions with interface trays that are used to facilitate reliable performance of wireless and broadband devices by boosting coverage and filtering interferences, resulting in improved signal strength and alleviating issues that arise when large numbers of people are trying to send or receive messages, calls, and data in a densely populated area.

They also were featuring a Dual Channel Rack Mount GaN Power Amplifier Assembly that extends API’s product line beyond discrete power amplifiers to fully integrated solutions with even higher levels of functionality. The new dual channel, rack mounted GaN power amplifier module designed for shipboard communications; other military and commercial applications include battlefield and mobile communication platforms. The unit weighs about 65 lbs., consists of 2 channels, each with a 200 W amplifier, VHF & UHF switched harmonic filter banks, SP3T high powered switches, a controller, and an AC/DC power supply.

ARAR has delivered a Class A RF amplifier capable of delivering over 50,000 watts with excellent harmonic performance of 40 dBc minimum. Another milestone is a 4,000 watt linear amplifier covering the entire 80 to 1000 MHz frequency band as well as a 1 to 2.5 GHz amplifier capable of producing over 3,000 watts. AR also showcased an ultra-wideband single amplifier, 0.7 to 6 GHz hybrid power modules and bench-top amplifiers in both Class A and Class AB designs. These amplifier designs incorporate the latest chip-and-wire technology and are manufactured in the company’s recently expanded microelectronics hybrid facility. AR is also shipping microwave TWTA amplifiers, operating up to 50 GHz, for various EMC and testing applications. The company introduced a new line of safety monitoring equipment, consisting of meters and probes to 40 GHz, which can be used in numerous industries for measurement of electromagnetic radiation.

Avago introduced a miniature LNA-filter RFIC module targeting satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) car radio systems. The module is designed to enable SDARS to coexist with cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS signals that are commonly present in today's automobiles. It is the first integrated LNA-filter module that addresses SDARS wireless coexistence challenges while meeting the miniature footprint required for shark-fin antennas. They also expanded their portfolio of FBAR filters, duplexers and multiplexers addressing multi-band, multi-standard wireless coexistence.

Crane expanded its Ku-Band Iso-Divider product family with the introduction of an 8-way unit. Featuring similar performance as the previously introduced 4- and 2-way products, low insertion loss and band flatness performance is continued in this product. Small size, low weight and high reliability are features that are crucial for the target space applications. The Iso-Divider combines the functions of high performance power dividers with ferrite isolators to provide a high isolation power divider solution, making the external isolators redundant, for satellite receiver applications, without introducing complex switch-based solutions.

Cree has big news as it announced just prior to IMS that they would IPO the RF power business. This will allow them to focus on the RF business as it was only a very small portion of the overall product portfolio of Cree which mostly focuses on the LED market. They introduced two GaN HEMT devices that solve issues for radar systems employing traditional traveling wave tube (TWT) amplifiers. GaN-based solid-state amplifiers operating at 50 V are not prone to the failure mechanisms seen with high voltage (kV) TWT power supplies, and thus provide longer lifetimes. Also, such solid-state systems provide near instant on capability — with no warm up, longer detection ranges, and improved target discrimination.  The first device, a 350 W, 50 ohm fully matched GaN HEMT and the second is a 500 W, 50 ohm device, both reported to be the highest power available to date for those frequency bands.

CTS Electronic Components introduced new high-reliability, surface-mounted ceramic filters that deliver the isolation and rejection required for ≤ 2 W at antenna small cells, remote radio heads, repeaters, and indoor DAS systems including applications needing multi-band co-location, linearized PAs, carrier-aggregation, and “whole-band” systems. The product family offers versions for all of the major frequency bands while sharing a common PCB layout enabling a platform solution. They have a similar family of pico cell duplexers and also ceramic air-cavity duplexers for metro cell applications.

Crystek introduced a new line of BNC Low Pass Filters to its CLPFL Series of Low Pass Filters, and a BNC High Pass Filter to its CHPFL line of High Pass Filters.  They are housed in a BNC with 50 ohm connectors and designed for test equipment and general lab use. The BNC LPF filter line integrates a 9th order Chebyshev response for excellent out-of-band rejection.  Models are available in frequencies ranging from 4 to 90 MHz.  The BNC HPF filter (25 MHz) integrates a 7th order Chebyshev response.  All filters in the BNC family are rated at +36 dBm.

Diamond Microwave has re-designed its range of GaN-based solid-state power amplifiers (SSPA) into a new common module format, and has added a new X-Band model that can be operated in either pulsed or CW mode. The DM X100 01 is an ultra-compact amplifier with 100 W output, operating over a 1700 MHz bandwidth centered at 8.5 GHz. The company’s products now includes SSPA in the ranges 2 – 6 GHz (DM-SC80-01), 7.65 – 9.35 GHz (DM-X100-01) and 16.3 – 17.3 GHz (DM-K100-01). The amplifier designs are flexible in layout and architecture, and are fully customizable to meet individual specifications for electrical, mechanical and environmental parameters.

FreescaleFreescale introduced the first fully software-programmable Digital Front End (DFE) System-on-Chip (SoC) for cellular base station radios. The device can eliminate hardware logic design, allowing integrators to concentrate instead on software development and product integration. The new AFD4400 includes the hardware required to implement a radio’s digital functions in a single device. The is architected for integration with Freescale’s broad portfolio of second-generation Airfast RF power transistors and RF Integrated Circuits (RFICs), supporting optimal performance in wideband systems ranging from traditional macro base station radios and remote radio heads to small cell base stations and active antenna array systems.

Notably, Freescale introduced their first GaN power transistor for cellular base stations, designed to support 30 to 40 watt amplifiers in the 1800 to 2200 MHz wireless bands. For non-cellular applications, they also introduced two wideband RF power GaN transistors in new advanced plastic packages. The MMRF5015N is a 100 W, 50 V, wideband GaN transistor well suited for high power military and civil communication systems. It has a thermal resistance of less than 0.8°C/W, which represents a >30 percent improvement over similar products. It has 200 to 2500 MHz bandwidth with a minimum of 12 dB gain and 40 percent efficiency over the band. The MMRF5011N is a 10 W, 28 V, wideband transistor covering 200 to 2600 MHz, with an available applications circuit. It is well suited for lower power military and civil handheld radio communications devices.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES briefed potential customers on their RF CMOS processes for wireless applications, spanning 40 to 180 nm nodes. Their deal to acquire IBM’s semiconductor capabilities awaits government approvals from the U.S. and China, so IBM had a separate booth where they discussed their RF CMOS and SiGe processes.

HYPERLABS showed off their broadband baluns including the HL9405 which is a high performance 50 GHz broadband balun offering ± 0.1 dB amplitude match from 5 MHz to 20 GHz and ± 0.3 dB match from 20 GHz to 50 GHz. All of their baluns are designed for applications in high-speed analog-to-digital conversion, signal generation, and pulse inversion.  For applications requiring high-performance TDR, TDT, NEXT, FEXT, S11, and S21 measurement capabilities, HYPERLABS Signal Path Analyzers™ deliver the excellent value. Their product line features analyzers with 2-20 channels, single-ended and differential capabilities, variable rise times as fast as 35 ps, and a wide variety of port connector options. Some even offer ESDS Class 2 static-robustness.

Alongside the established products such as the Empire XCcel™ 3D-EM-field simulator, MultiLib™ software library for calculating multi-layered circuits, and its WiMOD™ radio module product family IMST showed the NOV8G12 8 to 12 GHz fractional-N synthesizer, which can be programmed in mHZ steps. It features an output amplifier and provides a differential output power of +6 dBm (diff.) over the entire frequency range and can be programmed using a SPI (read/write mode).

IFI (Instruments for Industry) exhibited their high power, GaN-based amplifiers used for EMC testing and other applications. They also produce TWT amplifiers, the only power amplifier technology available when the firm was founded in 1953. Among the products highlighted at IMS were a 400 watt CW PA covering 800 MHz to 3.1 GHz and a 2 kW CW/4 kW pulsed PA covering 1 to 2 GHz.

Infineon featured the 24 GHz Sense2Go development kit that allows the user to implement and test several sensing applications at the 24 GHz ISM band such as Doppler based movement detection, Doppler based direction of movement detection, Doppler based speed estimation and Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) based distance measurement of stationary targets. The kit consists of the BGT24MTR11 transceiver MMIC and a XMC4200 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M4 Microcontroller for signal processing and communication via USB.

Also showcased was the SMT-ready E-band radio frontend reference design, which utilizes 2 Gbit/s FDD radio with BGT70 and BGT80 transceiver chipsets. With their advanced Si Ge:C technology these transceivers are highly integrated and housed in eWLB packages. The RF frontend reference design features two E-band MMIC transceivers mounted on a compact motherboard. Separate hardware versions for low-band (71 – 76 GHz) and high-band (81 – 86 GHz) modes of operation are available.

KVG Quartz Crystal Technology showcased a large number of products. Two to focus on are the O-30-ULPN-100M and the O-30-ULGS-100M, both high performance OCXOs. The former offers Ultra Low Phase Noise (ULPN) and tight frequency stability. The O-30-ULGS-100M is a high performance OCXO optimized for exceptional Ultra Low G-Sensitivity (ULGS), very low phase noise and tight frequency stability. Its low G-Sensitivity makes it suitable for vehicle mounted applications. Both OCXOs come in a robust but small hermetically sealed CO8 metal can package, making them suitable for humid environmental conditions.

Center-stage for Linwave was the LW12-700176 broadband high performance drop in splitter, which is claimed to have better than industry standard amplitude and phase balance all provided in a package over 90% smaller than the commercial off the shelf equivalent.

The splitter provides nominally two 180° balanced outputs with excellent phase and amplitude matched outputs. Next generation variants are now being developed to increase the upper frequency limit, provide multiple outputs, hermetic packaging, connectorized solutions and high power variants.

MACOMMACOM was highlighting their Gen 4 GaN, which delivers greater than 70 percent peak efficiency and 19 dB gain for modulated signals at 2.7 GHz, which is similar to GaN on SiC and more than 10 percentage points greater efficiency than LDMOS. This performance is expected to yield GaN-based devices that are half the semiconductor cost per watt of comparable LDMOS products and significantly lower cost than similar GaN on SiC wafers in volume production.

MACOM also introduced a wideband transistor optimized for DC to 2 GHz operation, fabricated on their GaN on Si process. The NPT2022 supports CW, pulsed and linear operation, boasting output levels up to 100 W or 50 dBm. This device provides customers 20 dB of gain and 60 percent drain efficiency at 900 MHz when operated at 50 volts. This HEMT D-Mode transistor is available in an industry standard plastic package with bolt down flange. The NPT2022 is well suited for defense communications, land mobile radio, avionics, wireless infrastructure, ISM applications and VHF/UHF/L/S-band radar.

Marki Microwave announced new GaAs Schottky MMIC mixers to serve as a low cost and high performance complement to Marki's existing band of double balanced Microlithic® mixers. Between these two products lines, Marki has every RF and LO frequency from 1.5 to 67 GHz covered with some

Additionally, Marki was showing off their new MMIC distributed LO amplifiers, suitable for use with the T3 and all other lines of Marki mixers. After years as a consumer of distributed LO amplifiers, Marki has built a design capability for GaAs pHEMT distributed amplifiers specifically for use as LO amplifiers. A pre-release run of broadband amplifiers includes five distributed amplifier models.

Meca Electronics featured their full range of mmWave power dividers and combiners, terminations, attenuators, directional couplers, DC blocks, and isolators. Their low PIM terminations and 50 and 100 watt attenuators were the stand-out products that were highlighted.

MercuryMercury Systems announced the Ensemble® RFM-1RS18 tuner. This fast-tuning wideband device is the first tuner in the embedded industry to be developed using OpenRFM™ system building blocks, affordably delivering comprehensive electromagnetic spectrum coverage for electronic warfare (EW) applications. OpenRFM was developed to solve the challenges of digital and RF/microwave convergence, spectrum-fusion and maneuverability, complementary system interoperability, and affordability. OpenRFM uses a modular, open-architecture approach, standardizing the electromechanical, software, control plane and thermal interfaces used by integrated microwave assemblies to streamline the design, integration, and testing of RF and digital capabilities within sensor processing systems. OpenRFM design principles are compatible with prevailing embedded computing industry standards, including 3U and 6U form-factor OpenVPX™ and VXS/VME for EW and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) applications.

The Ensemble RFM-1RS18 tuner integrates three rugged OpenRFM modules into a single-width, 6U VXS package. Each package comprises a wideband front-end tuner spanning a range of 0.5 to 18.0 GHz, a quad-converter that delivers four IF outputs and a synthesizer to ensure coherent outputs from the converter. Each tuner combines a high-channel density, derived from OpenRFM's three modules per slot approach with wide, near-instantaneous bandwidth capability, ultra-fast tuning speed, and low-phase noise performance all within a low-SWaP package.

Microsemi announced 13 new products with a progressive emphasis on high performance semiconductor (CMOS, SiGe, GaAs, GaN and InP) and packaging technologies. Microsemi's expanded its family of GaN RF power transistors featuring five new L & S-band RF power transistors rated between 150 and 800 W. The new RF power transistors are designed for a wide range of applications including avionics; radar; and industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) applications. Microsemi's MPS4101-012S and MPS4102-013S are single-chip silicon monolithic series-shunt elements designed with minimal parasitic inductance to provide optimum insertion loss and isolation characteristics over the entire 50 MHz to 40 GHz frequency range. These products are good replacements for the conventional shunt mounted chip and series mounted beam lead PIN diode normally used in the manufacture of broadband microwave switches. Microsemi's also showed off a series of broadband coaxial limiters provide high CW power handling capability across the 10 MHz to 2.5 GHz, 10 MHz to 4 GHz and 10 MHz to 6 GHz frequency bands. Capable of limiting 60 W, 70 W and 100 W of incident CW power, these broadband coaxial limiters are ideal for receiver protection in ECM, EW, radar and test equipment applications. Microsemi's L0618-50-T523 is a high power broadband GaN amplifier that delivers 100 W of saturated output power over the 6 to 18 GHz frequency range, and is offered in a compact 10" x 8.25" x 6" rack mount configuration.

Morion introduced a miniature high frequency precision low phase noise, OCXO MV317, featuring a frequency range from 80 to 120 MHz in a small package size of 25x25x10.3 mm. It has low phase noise of <-177 dBc/Hz @ 100 kHz offset, very short warm-up time – less than 2 minutes and high stability vs. temperature – up to +/- 5x10-8. They come in 5 and 12 V models.

Northrop Grumman Corporation released a highest power GaN MMIC power amplifier ever with a peak power of 40 W at 27 GHz, the 27-30 GHz amplifier has an average output power of 36 watts and PAE of greater than 30 percent across the band. The MMIC area is a compact 13.5 mm^2 and establishes a new standard of performance achieved by a single MMIC. The devices was manufactured using the same process that is being matured through the company’s participation in the Air Force Research Laboratory Gallium Nitride Advanced Electronic Warfare Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Producibility program, an initiative funded under Title III of the Defense Procurement Act.

NXP announced that its ninth generation (Gen9) LDMOS RF power transistors – BLS9G2934LS400 – can achieve required power and efficiency levels in S-band radar applications, which is a fast growing sub-segment in RF power applications, including weather radar, surface ship radar and some communications satellites. Also, delivering breakthrough thermal performance management with 30 percent improvement compared to existing products, the company’s new ACP-3 package, BLC2425M9XS250 power amplifier enables product designers to improve, simplify and reduce cost for RF designs by saving board space.

Orbel designs and manufactures a wide range of products for EMI/RFI shielding, including board-level, finger-stock gaskets and metalized fabric gaskets. President Ken Marino says doing everything in house – beginning with design through all the manufacturing steps – is what differentiates Orbel from their competitors. This internal control allows them to achieve very short lead times, from a customer’s concept to a sample in hand.

Pasternack was featuring their new log amplifiers used to measure widely varying signals at high frequencies in applications where rapid and precise tracking is required across the entire frequency band. Common applications for these RF amplifies are in radar and EW systems used for direction finding and power monitoring, but they can also find use in laboratory measurement and test equipment as well as telecommunications and data communications systems. These new logarithmic video amplifiers utilize highly efficient GaAs semiconductor technology which is beneficial for high speed applications while maintaining flatness and accuracy throughout the desired frequency band. The log amplifiers can process up to 75 dB of dynamic range and have log linearity that ranges from ±1 to ±2.5 dBm. The log slope ranges from 20 to 50 mV/dB and they also boast fast recovery times ranging from 40 to 150 nanoseconds. The 50 ohm hybrid circuit assemblies are enclosed in rugged metal packages with SMA connectors. They are highly reliable and designed to meet MIL-STD-202F environmental conditions.

PeregrinePeregrine announced the availability of the first product from the MPAC product family, the UltraCMOS® PE46120. Covering a frequency range of 1.8 to 2.2 GHz, the PE46120 integrates a 90-degree hybrid splitter, phase shifters, digital step attenuator and a digital serial interface on a single die. Designed for optimizing dual-path dynamically load-modulated amplifier architectures such as Doherty power amplifiers, the monolithic RF controller offers high linearity, high isolation, high power handling and maximum phase-tuning flexibility compared to multi-chip, GaAs-based solutions.

They have continued developing their Global 1 front-end module and showed off their true DC to 40 GHz switch, high linearity switches for DOSIS 3.1 along with their expanding portfolio of mixers, limiters, prescalers and more. They had several personnel announcements including Duncan Pilgrim, VP and general manager of High Performance Analog, Colin Hunt, VP of Sales and Takaki Murata VP of Business Development.

PMI (Planar Monolithic Industries) displayed their 100 MHz to 18 GHz transceiver module, with 0 to 10 dBm output, -80 to -10 dBm input dynamic range, CW immunity, a VITA 67 RF interface, and 30 watts maximum power consumption. The unit utilizes a time-gated SDLVA for pulse blanking and has a dual-sided 8-way switched filter bank with 100 nsec switching speed. The transceiver supports applications in EW, radar, UAV/UGV, test equipment and communications.

Presto Engineering calls themselves a “design-less, fabless, ASIC house,” meaning they provide test solutions, product engineering and production support for design firms and IDMs. With the growing interest in mmWave for high data rate communications, including 5G, the industry is facing the challenge of testing well and fast at much higher frequencies. Presto is developing test solutions for these frequencies, particularly above 40 GHz. In addition to exhibiting, Michel Villemain, Presto’s CEO, facilitated the Thursday workshop entitled “Millimeter Wave RFIC Industrial Test: A Roadblock for Mass Adoption?”

Qorvo, the marriage of RFMD and TriQuint, announced numerous products for infrastructure applications at IMS. For home Wi-Fi, the company introduced five 5 GHz PAs for 802.11ac. The designs support the use of MIMO to increase data rates, offering greater efficiency to improve thermal management within the CPE. The company also released a portfolio of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) switches, digital step attenuators, a temperature compensating attenuator – all covering 5 MHz to 6 GHz – and a programmable array of capacitors.

For small cell base stations, Qorvo introduced three 0.5 watt PAs covering 700 to 1000, 1800 to 2170 and 2300 to 2700 MHz. Compared with the extensive line of ANADIGICS small cell PAs, the Qorvo designs offer better efficiency: 27, 29 and 22 percent over the three bands (low to high). In a first for the point-to-point market, Qorvo introduced three hybrid GaAs/GaN PAs, covering the 5.9 to 7.7, 7.1 to 8.5 and 9.5 to 12 GHz bands with up to 16 watts of output power. For commercial and military satellite uplinks, the company introduced three GaN PAs, offering 35 watts at Ku-Band (13.4 to 15.2 GHz) and 4.5 and 8 watts at Ka-Band (27 to 31 GHz).

Continuing the GaN theme, Qorvo introduced four GaN MMICs packaged in plastic, with output power levels from 30 to 100 watts across various segments of S-Band (i.e., 2.8 to 3.7 GHz). An additional four GaN transistors, packaged in plastic, were announced for radar and communications, covering 30 kHz up to 6 GHz with output powers ranging from 6 to 36 watts. The release of so many GaN products in plastic indicates that Qorvo has fully qualified their GaN technology in plastic.

Reactel was showing their miniature filters, multiplexers and multifunction assemblies that perform up to 50 GHz. Some of their more compact filters include discrete components from 2 kHz to 5 GHz with bandwidths up to 150% and size as small as .25" x .3" x .5". Ceramic filters from 300 MHz to 6 GHz, cavity filters from 500 MHz to 40 GHz, combline and interdigital from 500 MHz to 40 GHz and flat pack from 5 to 50 GHz. Also available are waveguide, tubular and suspended substrate filters/multiplexers plus multifunction assemblies such as switched filter banks, amplified filters and diplexers and iso-filters.

RelComm Technologies compliments its product line with a high performance 1P2T coaxial relay configured with ‘SC’ type connectors and excellent RF performance to 6 GHz. Power rating is 1250 watts CW to 1 GHz and 500 watts CW to 6GHz. Operating temperature range is -30°C - +70°C. The relay measures 3.50” in width with a depth of 1.00” and is less than 2.4” tall. It is fitted with standard eyelet terminals for ease of wire up and is fully RoHS compliant. The relay is available in both failsafe and latching configurations with 12 and 28 volt dc operation. Options include position indicators, D-SUB wire up header, splash proof sealed and TTL controlled input.

Skyworks expanded its RF switches with a suite of analog control ICs for a variety of Internet of Things applications including the connected home and smart lighting. In addition to supporting high data rates and broad frequency ranges, these integrated switch solutions operate at elevated temperatures, making them well suited for embedded smart energy and lighting applications where small form factors are required and ambient temperatures can reach up to 105 degrees Celsius. The SKY13587-378LF - is a pHEMT GaAs FET I/C switch that can be used in various transmit/receive applications operating over the  frequency range of 20 MHz to 6 GHz with an insertion loss of 0.35 dB typical at 2.45 GHz isolation of24 dB typical at 2.45 GHz. The SKY13588-460LF is a CMOS silicon on insulator single-pole, triple-throw switch with high linearity and low insertion loss. The device is packaged in a compact quad flat no lead 2 x 2 x 0.55 mm package. They also introduced high performance front-end modules (FEMs) that incorporate a complete transmit/receive chain with associated switching, filtering and logic. The device features +30 dBm output power, low leakage current shutdown and 40 percent PAE. It is mounted in a 28 pin, 6 x 6 mm surface mount technology package. Skyworks released a family of ceramic-based filters targeting high frequency applications that offer improved power handling and support frequencies up to 7 GHz.

Teledyne Microwave Solutions featured a new line of YIG Tuned Band-Reject Filters that covers 125 MHz to 18 GHz.  They have a new patent-pending technology that overcomes several of the long-time design limitations inherent to YIG Band-Reject with increased minimum rejection bandwidths and notch depth at lower frequencies vs. standard band-reject filters; a reduction in the maximum 3 dB bandwidth at higher frequencies vs. standard band-reject filters; a reduction in spurious responses across the board and higher frequency bands available up to 20 GHz. These are primarily for electronic warfare (EW), electronic countermeasures (ECM), and microwave receiver applications in military markets.

While not a major player in the microwave industry since divesting their GaAs technology to Raytheon and TriQuint, the encroachment of silicon into RF has given Texas Instruments a seat at the RF table. At IMS they showed a base station diversity transceiver that includes a transmitter with over 1 GHz bandwidth and receiver with greater than 100 MHz bandwidth. The transmitter chain comprises a 4-channel,16-bit, 2.5 GSPS DAC; I/Q modulators; PLL/VCO and clock cleaner. The receiver chain consists of a 2-channel down-converting mixer; 2-channel variable-gain IF amplifier; PLL/VCO; and a 2-channel, 16-bit, 370 MSPS ADC. TI also featured a 4 GSPS ADC with an 8 GHz fully-differential amplifier and a 16-bit, 1 GSPS dual ADC with fully-differential amplifiers.

Toshiba displayed their portfolio of discrete GaAs and GaN power amplifiers, highlighting their GaN roadmap for C-, X-, Ku-, and Ka-Bands. A 200 watt pulsed device at C-Band, a 100 watt device at X-Band, and a 15 watt MMIC at Ka-Band were among the GaN products highlighted at IMS. Although GaN has greater power density than GaAs, Toshiba believes GaAs presently provides better linearity, higher frequency performance and broader bandwidth than GaN. Toshiba’s solid-state technology is largely directed internally, providing devices for Japanese military systems. With government encouragement, their technology and unused capacity at their 4-inch Kawasaki fab are used to support global communications markets and international defense needs where export laws allow.

UCSD-TowerJazz-256-element-array-chipTowerJazz was partnered with UCSD & DARPA to demonstrate the first 5G 256-element 60 GHz silicon wafer-scale phased array transmitter. TowerJazz’s process enabled the very large chip area with an extremely high level of integration.  The phased-array system-on-a-chip (SoC) targets the emerging 5G high-performance wireless standard which will aim for greater than 10 Gbps (gigabits per second) peak data-rate communication.  The array has beamforming capabilities that include independent amplitude and phase control for all 256 different antenna elements.  The collaboration of the wafer-scale phased array chip was partially funded through collaboration with DARPA.

TRAK Microwave announced the availability of several new aerospace and SATCOM communication system subassemblies and precision network timing products.  Their new Ku-Band Block Upconverter provides 13.75 to 14.5 GHZ coverage for civilian and military aviation SATCOM applications. This BUC features a 25 watt GaN SSPA with low noise (-140 dBc/Hz typical) and low spectral regrowth. The Ku-band segments of 10.7-11.7 GHz and 11.7-12.75 GHz are covered by their Dual Band Block Downconverter (BDC).  One of TRAK’s new timing products is their Stratum 1 Network Time Server, which is synchronized from an optical IRIG B DC-level shift or a wireline Modulated IRIG B link, with time synchronization of <1 μs of time reference. This NTP server supports NTP v2, v3, v4 and SNTP clients. An onboard OCXO provides holdover capability in the event that synchronization is lost from the IRIG reference. Model 8833-13 is a tactical Frequency and Time Reference Module (FTRM) in a 3U Compact PCI form factor. The module includes a 50-channel GPS receiver, double-oven crystal oscillator, plus time and frequency generation circuitry providing reference outputs of 10 MHz, 1 PPS and Time of Day. Among the unit’s key features are fast time-to-lock of <10 minutes from power-up, and a holdover mode with accumulated drift of less than 10 μs in 24 hours after four hours of GPS synchronization. Another product is their 23 GHz Dual-Junction Latching Circulator. This unit offers 1 μs switching speed and very low insertion loss of 0.2 dB in transmit mode and 0.4 dB in receive mode. The device will handle +39 dBm transmit power with 25 db isolation to protect the receiver while transmitting.

United Monolithic Semiconductors(UMS) promoted its PPH15X process, which is optimized for wideband high power amplification up to 45 GHz. It features a power capability up to 800 mW/mm @ 3 dB compression with a PAE of 46% and a very high linearity with an IMR3 of 56 dNC @ 10 dB backoff. In the power amplifier sector the new CHA6362-QXG, CHA5356-QGG and CHA6456-QXG PAs were featured that are highly robust, have a good return loss of 15 dB and full ESD protection. New GaN products on display included general purpose transistors in SMD DFN 3 x 4 packages and internally-matched quasi-MMIC power devices for L to C Band that consist of a combination of GaN power bars with matching networks realized on high power passive MMIC technology.

Wireless Telecom Group, the parent of Boonton, Microlab, and Noisecom, demonstrated the capabilities of Boonton and Noisecom equipment at IMS. The first demos showed how crest factor, scalar-like and time-gated measurements can be performed using Boonton’s wideband USB peak power sensor. Noisecom demonstrates the Eb/No generation capabilities of their CNG-EbNo series, a fully automated precision signal-to-noise generator that sets and maintains an accurate ratio between a user-supplied carrier and internally generated noise over a wide range of signal power levels and frequencies. A second Noisecom demo evaluated the power supply rejection of an IC to study the impact of supply voltage noise and spurs.

WIN Semiconductors announced the release of it’s sixth generation Enhancement-Depletion mode GaAs Pseudomorphic HEMT technology for high performance RF and mm-Wave applications. This new platform, PE15, combines a 0.15μm E-mode transistor with ft >110 GHz, with monolithic PN diodes for compact ESD protection, and optional modules for low current E/D logic and RF switching. These design solutions are realized within an environmentally robust backend platform that is compatible with advanced integration techniques such as bump/flip chip assembly and isolated through-wafer RF connections. PE15 is a versatile technology that provides excellent gain/bandwidth, power and noise performance, and enables unique design solutions for diverse applications including Ka-band, 5G infrastructure and 100G optical components.

WIN Semiconductors continues to invest in its market leading pHEMT technology portfolio and supports the entire industry with access to these advances embodied by the PE15 platform. This technology leverages WIN’s qualified production techniques and industry leading manufacturing scale, and represents a new platform that can be extended and optimized to address rapidly evolving market requirements.

X-Microwave is committed to optimizing the design process for engineers worldwide.  Their products and services address every phase of the development process from concept to prototype to production hardware. They offer a broad range of components designed around a “Modular Building Block System” with models available for all components on their On-Line System Simulator.  X-MWblocks are the “Drop-In” and “Drop-On” Components at the heart of the X-Microwave Innovative Modular Building Block System.  X-MWblocks are easy to test, integrate, align, and configure to 50 GHz.   From prototype to final production hardware, no Soldering or Silver Epoxy processes are required.  X-MWblocks are characterized including X-Parameter and S-Parameter Models. 

PCBs, Cables and Connectors

ETL Systems showcased three new products from its components range. The StingRay RF over Fibre standalone module – a compact unit which provides single inter-facility links without the need of a chassis is the solution for fixed feeds where remote control is not required. LNB voltage and gain mode can be controlled manually via a switch on the module, and input signal levels can be monitored via a -20 dB monitor port. The new Outdoor Unit (ODU) Amplifier features an IP65-rated weather enclosure, as well as offering a 1 dB gain compression point for high power applications and a low noise figure for optimum signal quality. Also demonstrated was the new ODU Ku-band Passive Splitter/Combiner, which can be placed outdoors as a standalone unit without requiring any other weatherproof chassis. This two-way Ku-band splitter/combiner has DC pass on all ports and a high temperature range.

GoreGore did a study a while back that showed that nearly one-third of cable failures occur during installation. They published a white paper showing the results of its evaluation of the durability and performance over time of several 18 GHz microwave/RF cable assemblies described as having a ruggedized construction with similar specifications. To minimize the risk of cable assembly damage or failure during installation, Gore developed a Cable Installation Simulator to evaluate the stress of installation on microwave airframe assemblies. By comparing signal integrity before and after installation, Gore can engineer assemblies that withstand airframe installation as well as the demands of the aircraft’s flight envelope and demonstrated that their cable withstand this process with no degradation in performance.

HUBER+SUHNER unveiled its new flexible ‘bend-to-the end’ high performance minibend range of cable assemblies, including the high radiation resistant, minibend HBR, which offers a frequency range up to 90 GHz and the minibend CTR phase invariant cable assemblies that have been developed for phase critical applications requiring both matched and stable electrical length connectivity, which will be released at the end of June. The company also showcased its ultra lightweight, high radiation resistant microwave coaxial cable assemblies designed for the space and defense market, the SUCOFLEX 300 series, along with the SUCOFLEX 200 series, developed for dynamic applications in the defense and test and measurement markets. There were also live demonstrations of EACON field-mountable cable assembly preparation and termination techniques. These microwave cables and connectors are lightweight, highly flexible, and waterproofed to IP 68 standards, yet applicable for frequencies up to 18 GHz.

Isola discussed the latest technological advancements in RF/Microwave-grade laminates, including the company’s newest materials: TerraGreen®, I-Tera® MT RF, Astra® MT and IS680. In one example in conjunction with Freescale® Semiconductor’s millimeter-wave radar chipset, Isola demonstrated the reliable electrical performance of Astra MT in wide field-of-view radar applications for automotive systems. They also highlighted the company’s RF Substrate Conversion Program, which provides turnkey calculations, testing, characterizations and material recommendations to assist PCB fabricators and OEMs in converting to Isola’s RF-materials.

Insulated Wire (IW) had a new catalog available as they serve a broad range of both military and commercial markets. These include telecommunications, data links, satellite systems, airborne electronic warfare and counter measures, missile systems, UAV applications, avionics and instrumentation, fire control systems, medical electronics, and geophysical exploration. All cable assemblies are built to customer specifications using advanced equipment and procedures including IPC-WHMA-A-620 trained technicians for solder processes. All assemblies are tested for VSWR and insertion performance before leaving the factory. Phase matching, amplitude matching, and time delay measurements up to 67 GHz are available when required.

Molex was displaying quite a few solutions including customized RF/Microwave connectors tailored to specific applications to provide design flexibility to OEMs and include solutions such as multi-port RF products, IP rated, sealed RF products, solderless PCB attachment, non-magnetic connectors and a wide range of cable assemblies and unique adapters, all available in 50 or 75 Ohm impedance. Also, a RF DIN 1.0/2.3 Modular Backplane System that allows designers to consolidate space and improve system routing of RF signals for board-to-board communications.  The system delivers port expansion capability up to 10 ports and 75 ohm impedance, with 1.00mm axial tolerance for superior orthogonal mating flexibility in a wide range of video and broadcast applications. They showed of Temp-Flex® Low Loss Flexible Microwave Coaxial Cables that feature either a solid core or monofilament dielectric for faster signal speed (70% and 85 to 88% Velocity of propagation, respectively) and improved electrical performance in high-bandwidth applications. The low and ultra-low loss microwave coax cables offer phase stability under dynamic conditions, tight impedance tolerances and bandwidth potential up to 110 GHz.  Other displays included their SDP Telecom Isolators, Circulators and Couplers and SDP Telecom Subsystems for DAS and IBS, a distributed antenna systems (DAS) is a network of antennas and RF distribution networks placed throughout a building to provide indoor coverage. 

Metrigraphics was showing off Micron-scale flexible circuits that can be achieved with six or more layers with traces (circuit lines) as narrow as 3 microns (11.81x10-5 inches). Circuits are flexible enough to wrap around objects with diameters as small as a pencil. Typical microcircuit applications include needs for high performance sensors, electrodes, coils, resistors, inductors, conductors, and bridges.  To manufacture flexible circuits with such high-trace resolution, Metrigraphics employs a mix of proprietary and industry-standard processes. These include high-resolution photolithography as well as sputtered thin-film and plated metal deposition. Multilayer flexible circuits are constructed of several independently stacked, aligned and interconnected layers composed of very thin sputtered metal or thicker-plated metal, such as gold or copper, on polyimide substrates. Plated conductive vias connect the different layers as required. Metrigraphics offers via sizes down to a 25-micron diameter.

RogersRogers reviewed their laminate materials including RO4835™ and RO4360G2™ high-frequency laminates and COOLSPAN® TECA thermally and electrically conductive adhesive films. They also shared insights into the acquisition of Arlon that compliments their growing product portfolio. RO4835 high-frequency laminates are well suited for circuit applications requiring excellent performance stability with time and temperature. These RoHS-compliant materials were developed with improved oxidation resistance but can be processed with standard FR-4 material methods for reduced production costs. RO4835 laminates exhibit a dielectric constant (Dk) of 3.48 at 10 GHz with a low loss tangent of 0.0037 at 10 GHz. The low z-axis coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) provides high plated-through-hole (PTH) reliability under a variety of processing and operating conditions. RO4360G2 laminates offer a higher Dk of 6.15 at 10 GHz and can also be processed with FR-4 methods for reduced production costs. The higher Dk value allows designers to develop circuits with smaller dimensions for a given operating frequency, for tighter packaging.

COOLSPAN TECA film is a thermally and electrically conductive adhesive film that helps solve many circuit thermal management issues. This thermoset, epoxy-based adhesive offers a straightforward means of attaching circuits to heat-bearing structures, such as heatsinks.

Being local, Rogers provided tours of their Chandler manufacturing facility including dinner afterward. They have global manufacturing that allows the US facility to concentrate on high mix, lower volume materials while other facilities specialize in higher volume, lower mix production.

San-tron was showing several new connectors and assemblies including San-tron’s SRX™ family of low-PIM solutions includes high-performance adapters, connectors (including new 4.1/9.5 mini-DINs) and cable assemblies. They feature intermodulation performance as low as -168 dBc with an eSeries 7/16 connector terminated on flexible-141 cable. Typical performance across the lineup of assemblies terminated with SMA style and Type N style connectors is -158 dBc. They come in variety of in-cabinet, jumper, and long-haul styles, and in many cases are plenum-rated for fire retardation which is commonly required of in-building wireless or distributed antenna systems (DAS). Their pressurized connectors provide low-loss, high-stability performance through 30 GHz at +/-65 psi. These pressurized connectors, which meet the IP68 standard, and feature a simplified, three-piece design – body, center contact, and an innovative dielectric – which eliminates troublesome internal O-rings, gaskets, and silicone greases.

Times Microwave showed off new connector for TFT-402 low PIM jumpers for DAS applications. These connectors attached via soldering of the center pin and induction soldering to the cable outer conductor and provide excellent VSWR performance and reliable PIM performance better than -155 dBc. They also released a new generation of high power cables for high power applications such as semiconductor process and flat panel manufacturing equipment, lasers and RF heating. The construction allows for high power but flexible cabling solutions at a reasonable cost. Times also announced that they are qualified to European Space Agency Standard 3902 for several of its products for space flight coaxial cable assemblies.

 Zentech Manufacturing announced the acquisition of Colonial Assembly & Design, LLC located in Fredericksburg, Va. The acquisition of CA&D significantly broadens the Zentech offering with CA&D's demonstrated expertise in circuit design and layout, systems level design, machining and sheet metal, and complex cable assembly / wire harness manufacturing.