Texas hospitality was definitely in abundance as the participants descended on Fort Worth for IMS 2004. Hot, humid weather and more rain than was comfortable did not dampen the enthusiasm or diminish the attendance at the MTT-S International Microwave Symposium held June 6 to 11. Overall attendance fell just short of 10,000 and seemed to saturate the city of Fort Worth for the entire week.

Karl Varian, this year’s symposium general chair, kicked things off by noting the many “Microwave Frontiers” the industry is expanding into as a fitting theme for meeting in the “City of Cowboys and Culture.” For those individuals that took the time to explore the many interesting attractions in and around Fort Worth, the western flavor and frontier culture was evident everywhere. In particular, the Historic Stockyard District allowed visitors to understand how the city of Fort Worth became the hub of cattle trading and a major center for the meat packing industry. The many museums and art galleries all reflected the western “Cowboy Culture.”

As is always the case, Microwave Week included the MTT-S International Microwave Symposium and Exhibition, as well as the 2004 IEEE Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) Symposium and the 62nd ARFTG Measurement Conference. This year’s RFIC Symposium was chaired by Stephen Lloyd, while the ARFTG chair was John Cable. Karl Varian and the many volunteers should all be congratulated on a very successful symposium and show. Also, a “job well done” should go to Elsie Cabrera, IEEE Convention Services, for her efforts in coordinating this event. Much was accomplished and many benefited from the numerous technical sessions and workshops.

The Technical Program

IMS 2004 was appropriately launched with inspiring Plenary speeches by Robert L. Leheny of DARPA and Michael J. Marcus of the FCC (retired). It seems the technical program continues to expand each year. This year 362 oral presentations were made and 127 interactive forums were held under the guidance of TPC co-chairs W. Alan Davis and Ronald L. Carter. They are to be congratulated on assembling a very talented technical program committee and presenting an unusually comprehensive and informative program. Also to be congratulated is Steve March, the workshop chair. In all, 2594 symposium delegates attended the 62 technical sessions, 33 workshops and four tutorial sessions. In addition, there were 141 student papers presented, always one of the highlights of Microwave Week.

The Social Program

As always, the week’s social program starts with the annual Microwave Journal/MTT-S reception. This year’s event was held at the Cowboy Museum in the Historic Stockyard District and was co-sponsored by Freescale Semiconductor. Attendees wandered among many interesting old relics of the days when cow punchers filled the streets of Fort Worth waiting for the cattle drives to head north into Kansas. A montage of photos of the event and exhibition can be found in the pdf of this article.

The Industry-hosted Cocktail Reception was held Wednesday evening at the Renaissance Worthington followed by the IEEE MTT-S Awards Banquet. There was also an IEEE MTT Women in Engineering (WIE) Reception held Tuesday evening at the Worthington and an IEEE MTT-S Student Awards Luncheon on Thursday. Throughout the week there were interesting tours conducted for attendees to visit the many historical and cultural attractions offered by the area.

The Industry Exhibition

IMS 2004 would not be complete without the industry exhibition. After all, where does all this technology end up — in products and services offered for sale. This year 476 companies occupied 816 booths in one of the most spacious and accommodating convention centers ever to host this event. Everyone was appreciative of the superbly functioning air conditioning system as the temperature and humidity outside climbed higher each day, but it remained comfortable and cool inside and made for a pleasant exchange of business on the show floor. In addition to the many interesting exhibits, there were 41 mAPS presentations made by the various exhibitors. Also, part of the exhibition was the MTT-S Historical Exhibit, always an interesting display, especially for the old-timers.

Of course, the primary purpose of the industry exhibition is to introduce innovative new products. A sampling of these new offerings and announcements is presented here with apologies to the many companies that have not been mentioned due to space limitations.

Smiths Interconnect, a division of Smiths Group, announced the acquisition of Trak Microwave and TECOM Industries. Trak has been a well-respected name in microwave components and subsystems and a market leader in frequency sources for high reliability space and military applications, and ferrite components for communications systems with facilities in Tampa, FL and Dundee, Scotland, while TECOM specializes in rugged antennas for military and airborne applications, and operates from Thousand Oaks, CA. The two companies join an impressive list of Smiths Interconnect businesses that includes EMC Technology, Florida RF Labs, Sabritec, Times Microwave and others.

Trak had its new five-channel switched filter assembly showcased. The product features an ultra-miniature, low profile design with less than 10 dB passband insertion loss and 60 dB typical stopband rejection at ±500 MHz. The hermetically sealed unit has a switching speed of less than 100 ns.

Another of the Smiths Interconnect companies, Times Microwave, had on display its woven coaxial cable assembly products designed for mobile cell sites and other cabling system applications. The cables are woven together to form a low profile and organized cable configuration that may be unwound and rewound numerous times for mobile, emergency and portable cell site use. The company was also showing its new SMA EZ no-solder connectors for use with its LMR-240 low loss coaxial cable.

Skyworks introduced its PA Plus highly efficient wireless LAN power amplifier. The new PA features on-chip harmonic filtering, thus eliminating the need for additional filtering in the WLAN transmit chain. The unit delivers high output power at high data rates and offers outstanding linearity and efficiency while reducing the circuit component count by 30 percent when compared to alternative PA solutions. The device is manufactured using the company’s indium gallium arsenide heterojunction bipolar transistor process.

Semflex Inc. announced the introduction of a new Best in Class microwave cable that delivers extremely low attenuation when compared to other industry cable offerings. The new double-shielded cable series is specifically matched to the maximum frequency ranges of popular connectors such as type N, SMA, 2.92 mm and 1.85 mm, and provides an impressive combination of low attenuation and phase stability for instrument grade applications.

Rohde & Schwarz was showing its expanded frequency range handheld spectrum analyzer aimed at WLAN 802.11a applications. The model FSH6 is usable to 6 GHz and can be tuned by means of channel numbers instead of frequencies, thus facilitating operation for many users from mobile radio to broadcasting. The new analyzer includes an adjustable preamplifier that enables sensitive measurements across its entire 100 kHz to 6 GHz frequency range and features a guaranteed measurement accuracy of greater than 1.5 dB, making the analyzer come close to the performance of high end desktop instruments. Rohde & Schwarz also announced an expanded frequency range for its FSQ series signal analyzer to 40 GHz and a new power range for its spectrum analyzers.

Rogers Corp. was showcasing its R/flex® 3000 family of liquid crystalline polymer (LCP)-based circuit materials. These new materials offer a low dielectric constant (Dk = 2.9) for controlled impedance combined with excellent dimensional stability for dense fine-line applications. The new family of materials includes a single-clad lower melt point and a double-clad high melt temperature laminate, offering a unique combination of mechanical, electrical, thermal and environmental properties for tightly controlled impedance flex interconnections, next generation wireless handsets, high density flip-chip packages and moisture-resistant sensors. Also introduced was the RO4350i series glass-reinforced hydrocarbon/ceramic thermoset laminate designed for performance sensitive, high volume commercial applications and the RT/duroid® 6202 material, an addition to Rogers’ traditional microwave laminates with improved dimensional stability.

RF Micro Devices announced the availability of its new series of GaAs HBT driver power amplifiers for cellular base station infrastucture applications. The series of multi-band platform devices features higher breakdown voltage for greater output power, efficiency and linearity. The RF3800 series driver amplifiers provide up to +37 dBm of output power at P1dB, greater than 35 percent efficiency, high linearity and 14 to 20 dB of gain under linear class AB operation. The new devices are assembled in a thermally enhanced AlN LCC-8 package that provides a more robust option to lower power GaAs MMIC plastic-packaged pre-driver amplifiers and is a cost-effective alternative to higher power flange-mount Si LDMOS transistors.

Kyocera America introduced a new line of brazed copper laminate LDMOS packages that offers low cost and allow users to achieve a 16 to 18 percent improvement in θjc when compared to traditional CuW heatsinks. The ceramic RF power transistor packages are utilized in the 500 MHz to 3.5 GHz frequency range and are typically found in digital cellular base stations, HDTV transmitters and numerous communication and avionic applications.

Hittite Microwave introduced 17 new products during the show. Three new DC to 5 GHz MMIC amplifiers were added to the company’s line of cascadeable SiGe and InGaP HBT gain blocks. Four of the company’s distributed amplifiers are now available in surface-mount 5 ¥ 5 mm packages along with a 12 to 16 GHz medium power LNA that combines a low 2.5 dB noise figure with a +25 dBm P1dB. There are new 1 and 1.6 W InGaP HBT power amplifiers that cover the 450 to 2200 MHz range and are externally tuned for best linearity in the cellular, 3G and UTMS bands. The output frequency of the company’s active multiplier product line has been extended to 33 GHz with two new active ¥2 frequency multiplier die. For PHS, 3G and UMTS infrastructure applications, a 1.7 to 2.2 GHz high IP3 dual downconverter provides a 50 to 300 MHz IF and delivers +27 dBm input IP3 and 9 dB conversion gain while requiring only 0 dBm LO drive. A direct quadrature modulator spanning the 100 to 4000 MHz range offers a dynamic output range of 168 dB and wider bandwidth, higher linearity and improved carrier suppression to > 42 dBc in +5 V applications. In addition, two new DC to 4 GHz high isolation SPDT switches provide up to 70 dB of isolation while being switched via a single TTL/CMOS compatible control line. A DC to 6 GHz high isolation SPDT nonreflective switch in an eight-lead hermetic package for high reliability applications rounds out the group.

Freescale Semiconductor, formerly Motorola SPS and now a subsidiary of Motorola, was showing its newly established portfolio of GPA devices that range from 40 MHz to 3.6 GHz and target the cellular infrastructure, PCS, broadband wireless access, PHS, CATV, UMTS and other commercial markets. The GPAs are indium gallium phosphide (InGaP) HBTs manufactured in its Tempe, AZ facility and are designed for high volume and drop-in replacement alternatives for RF amplifier products. They exhibit a low 30°C/W thermal resistance and are exceptionally rugged. P1dBs range from 18.5 to 30 dBm and gains are in the 16 to 20 dB range. The company was also displaying its RF LDMOS transistor family for 2.5 and 3G wireless infrastructure use. The line features outstanding power density, exceptional RF performance, high efficiency and superior device consistency.

Filtronic Compound Semiconductors had on display its 4 W, 2 W and 1 W packaged power pHEMTs. These are surface-mount devices aimed at applications requiring high gain, high efficiency and high linearity. Applications include use as output stages in picocell transmitters, drivers for higher power base station amplifiers and fixed wireless access applications through 3.5 GHz. The 1 W device features 16 dB of linear gain at 1.8 GHz, while the 2 W device offers 15 dB of linear gain.

The RF Products Group of Fairchild Semiconductors was highlighting its various integrated RF power amplifier products aimed at the commercial wireless marketplace. Its product line features leading edge performance in smaller and smaller footprints. The company was displaying 3 ¥ 3 mm matched amplifier modules and PA modules in industry standard footprints.

Dow-Key Microwave had on display its DC to 6 GHz SPDT bi-polar latching RF MEMS switch that boasts a 100 million-cycle lifetime. The new switch series is an ultra-miniature, quasi-hermetic, latching SPDT relay with exceptional broadband RF performance and reliability. Switching speed and bounce times are about 10 times better than comparable armature relays. The company was also showcasing an automated test station that is based on the newest generation of the company’s 2 x 32 switch matrix. The test station used the Dow-Key switch matrix, an Agilent PNA and a software package developed by Dow-Key using National Instruments Labview software.

Applied Wave Research (AWR™) announced its Visual System Simulator™ (VSS) 2004 software tool for next-generation design of complete, end-to-end communication systems. The VSS 2004 package has been enhanced to provide support for the Linux platform, includes RF budget analysis for calculating cascaded performance of the RF link, and phased-locked loop simulation blocks for interactive investigation of the dynamics of frequency synthesizers and frequency and phase modulators. The simulator also features core enhancements that include tighter integration with AWR’s Micowave Office™ and Analog Office™ design suites, the addition of adaptive behavioral models, and enhanced measurements. AWR also announced Analog Office 2004 software for next-generation analog and RFIC designs. This toolset spans the entire IC design flow, from system level to circuit level design and verification.

Ansoft announced Nexxim™, a circuit simulator that combines with Ansoft Designer™ to provide a complete solution for high frequency circuit design. Nexxim targets next generation analog/mixed signal applications, including high performance RFCMOS, GaAs/SiGe RFICs and gigabit computer and communications backplanes. Nexxim’s advantages include time- and frequency-domain circuit simulation, simulation accuracy and transistor-level detail without the use of model approximations, speed and capacity to handle the high nonlinearities and large device counts of today’s RF/mixed signal IC designs, and support for numerous frequency-dependent models, including S-parameters, W-elements and distributed transmission-line models.

Agilent had several new products and new capabilities on display. Some of the new releases included displaying highly accurate vector- and scalar-mixer-calibration capabilities for RF network analyzers. A 4-port, 20 GHz network analyzer offering an exceptional combination of measurement speed and accuracy was on display; the PNA-L series of instruments offers advanced multi-port, balanced measurement capabilities, and wide bandwidth power meters and sensors. Also on display were the broadened bandwidth and analysis capabilities of the PSA series spectrum analyzers, with options that include an 80 MHz digitizer and built-in analysis software; an extended frequency range for its high performance signal generators; and a single-instrument solution for evaluation of most RF and microwave signal sources that speeds the measurements by a factor of 10, improves accuracy and lowers cost.

Aeroflex Inc. unveiled four new test and measurement products that cover applications from WLAN to microwave mixer testing. The company’s new digital RF signal generator offers wide frequency coverage for WLAN testing, with increased coverage to 6 GHz for 802.11a testing. A new microwave mixer measurement system was on display that speeds the development, tuning, setup and testing of microwave mixers and frequency converters. It combines new measurement software with two high frequency test instruments, and replaces cumbersome and slow testers that are configured with signal generators and spectrum analyzers. A wideband noise and jitter tester for wireless systems testing also was on display. The instrument has an extremely low residual noise floor and is capable of measuring state-of-the-art phase noise levels up to 500 MHz. Also shown was a fast-switching frequency synthesizer with an improved MTBF that offers one microsecond switching speed and sub-microsecond level correction, along with exceptional spectral purity.

Advanced Power Technology had several new products on display, including two high power S-band transistors that utilize newer chip designs and processing enhancements to improve both the power gain and gain flatness of the devices over frequency. The 2729-70 device provides a minimum of 170 W of output power with a 25.7 W input over the 2.7 to 2.9 GHz band, while the 2931-70 transistor provides a minimum power output of 150 W from a 21.7 W input over the 2.9 to 3.1 GHz band. The company also was showing two high power long pulse L-band transistors for the radar market that feature improvements in pulse width and duty factor along with improved power gain and gain flatness. These transistors operate over the 1.2 to 1.4 GHz band and deliver 32 and 150 W power outputs from 5.3 and 27 W inputs, respectively.

On to Long Beach

Once the door closes on this year’s event the efforts start immediately to ensure another successful symposium and exhibition in the coming year. IMS 2005 will be held in Long Beach, CA from June 12 to 17, 2005. Mark your calendars and plan on attending. See you there.