European Microwave Week just wrapped up in Rome last week. It was a busy event with strong attendance this year despite the awkward location of the venue which is far from the city and hotels. Keysight, R&S and National Instruments were front and center at the exhibition along with a large presence from companies like Anritsu, CST, ANSYS, TriQuint, Macom, Maury and Cascade to name a few. Selex Finmeccanica also had a large booth to support the show in locally in Italy. The booth traffic was strong by almost all accounts and exhibitors seemed to have good quality leads from the event.
The conference sessions were very high quality with a large number of paper submissions this year. The European Microwave Conference kicked off with a history of Maxwell in the opening session. The European Microwave IC Conference and European Radar Conference were also strong with Defense Forum being part of the Radar Conference. The Defense Forum included an industry panel session run by Microwave Journal and a Lunch & Learn session from Strategy Analytics.
A number of RF companies are now involved in a major effort to bring solid state RF transistor power to the RF heating market mostly focused on replacing the magnetron in microwave ovens. These products can also be used for industrial drying/processing, lighting and other applications. While this technology has been on display previously, it was the first time that the RF Energy Alliance presented itself to the public with an event on Monday that included companies such as NXP, Rogers, H+S and Whirlpool. They presented how RF solid state heating for ovens is more efficiency and reliable plus offers some cooking advantages. These new systems are able to dynamically adjust their energy to cook foods more evenly including situations where different types of foods are placed in the oven. Freescale was not part of the Alliance (at least not yet) but was also showing a similar RF transistor capability.
GaN continues to make in-roads into several markets with companies like TriQuint, Macom, Freescale, Sumitomo and Mitsubishi, to name a few, displaying solutions for commercial and military markets. Companies like Mitsubishi and Sumitomo seem to concentrate more on the satellite and space markets while TriQuint, Macom and Freescale provide defense and commercial communications solutions. Notable GaN companies missing this year were RFMD and Cree.
The test and measurement companies continue to roll out modular products with Keysight presenting their single slot, 2-port PXIe VNA. Up to 16 units (32 ports) can fit into a chassis and multiple chassis can be combined. They also showed off their PXIe signal analyzer to 26.5 GHz and AXIe AWG with 20 GHz bandwidth and up to 4 channels. National Instruments discussed their platform approach using modular instruments that include the design suite (AWR software) and LabVIEW to control and proto-type systems. Their new PXIe signal analyzer also operates to 26.5 GHz and has a broad bandwidth of 765 MHz. One of the most interesting presentations we saw at the Defense Forum was the R&S mmWave scanning system. It uses 3008 transmit and receive modules operating at 70 to 80 GHz with a resolution of better than 2 mm. It can detect hidden liquids, ceramic knives and some other dangerous materials that metal detectors cannot. They envision this system in the future being embedded into the walls of walkways and actively scanning people as they walk through the airport.
Another interesting trend in test is the market penetration of low cost PC-controlled VNAs. Both Anritsu and Copper Mountain feature solutions that are being widely used by industry. Several of the Copper Mountain units could be found in other booths doing demos and their software has been integrated with other solutions such as Maury load pull systems. Anritsu is using a unique VNA on chip solution for their systems achieving a high level of integration in a small package. I was also interested in Maury’s approach to providing full solutions instead of just test equipment. Their integrated load pull systems use components from other companies such as Hittite, Anteverta and NI to achieve a high-speed production load pull system.
On the software side, interoperability is continuing to expand as reported in our July cover story. Open Access was introduced as a common database for custom IC design a while back and Keysight adopted this database in ADS and its EM simulation tools. Another addition is a next-generation PCB integration solution – the ADS Board Link (ABL). This provides a bidirectional interface to enterprise PCB tools, enabling ADS to import layouts, schematics and libraries. AWR and ANSYS recently announced their efforts to integrate ANSYS® HFSS into Microwave Office. With this design flow, Microwave Office users can readily access HFSS for analysis of EM fields and coupling of 3D structures. This integration is now available for users to demo as shown in the exhibition. The 2014 version of CST STUDIO SUITE introduced CAD data version control to make it easier for engineers in large teams to keep track of the work being done across different departments. CST also develops links to third-party analysis tools such as Antenna Magus, Optenni Lab, Delcross Savant, and Delcross EMIT.
It was a busy EuMW in Rome with a strong presence on both the conference and exhibition sides. Our full exhibition review is coming up later this week. Let us know what things you saw at the event.