I was recently asked to name three major global electronic industry trends from the perspective of a Microwave Journal editor and technical advisor to EDI CON. Sensing the need to “think big,” I responded with my thoughts on 5G (the mobile Internet for all things), Near Field Communications (NFC), and the promise of GaN and CMOS to disrupt current RF semiconductor technologies. These trends were naturally influenced by the information that comes across my desk in the form of article proposals for this magazine and potential content for next year’s big microwave design event in Beijing. While we haven’t yet received any EDI CON papers related to 5G, our December cover story from Prof. Dr. -Ing Gerhard Fettweis of Technische Universitat Dresden does look at possible mobile telecommunication standards for the year 2020.  Instead, the bulk of papers submitted to EDI CON has been concerned with more immediate communication system challenges, RF/microwave and high speed electronic design and developments in semiconductor technologies. Still, Microwave Journal and EDI CON have generally reinforced each other with regard to what our contributors consider to be important.

In discussing the technical program for EDI CON, I have stressed the educational nature of the event. Our goal is to bring the engineering resources of the world’s leading high-frequency electronic companies together with the working engineers and researchers who need to tap into this expertise. Our goal is to provide a platform for information that is practical and relevant to the challenges of electronic component design and system integration. To achieve this objective, workshop and panel themes are being developed based on input from the event participants (sponsors), industry insiders, academic advisors from China and the EDI CON technical advisory committee. Over the past two months, several special themes have been identified and are currently in development.

The GaN Technology Panel at EDI CON 2013 will focus on the latest innovations, emerging trends and applications of this semiconductor technology. Building on the successful panel sessions organized by Microwave Journal at IMS 2012, including “Where are the Emerging RF Market Opportunities for GaN?”, this event will focus primarily on technical issues. The panel will feature industry experts in a 90 minute session that includes individual presentations followed by a question and answer session with the audience. Freescale Semiconductor will be among the participants. Its technical team will discuss the company’s new GaN hetero-junction field effect transistors (GaN HFET) for emerging high-power, high-efficiency RF applications.

The Connectivity Forum is a dedicated track focused on issues related to RF, microwave and high-speed interconnect technology, including cables, connectors, probes, harnesses, fiber optics and over-the-air methods for a wide range of applications. This forum will combine technical papers and a special panel examining emerging connector technology, the universal trend toward miniaturization, weight reduction and added functionality, mechanical, electrical and environmental requirements, phase stability, PIM and space qualification. Times Microwave Systems will be participating in the forum with engineering expertise on RF/microwave connectivity solutions. Other confirmed talks include Howard Hausman, CEO of MITEQ Inc., presenting “Applications of Fiber Optic Links in RF and Microwave Systems” and Wei Liu, president of MITRON, discussing “Cable Assembly Solutions for Specific Commercial and Military Applications.”

Spirent Communications will sponsor a portion of the EDI CON technical program with an hour long panel session on “The Changing Face of Testing: Moving from Conducted to OTA.” This panel will be led by Spirent and will include three additional industry participants representing various aspects of the wireless ecosystem specific to the Asia market. Spirent and the other panelists will share their perspectives on the need for Over-The-Air (OTA) test methodologies as a means to achieve a complete picture of real-world performance for mobile devices and base stations. This discussion will consider both Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) and Assisted Global Navigation Satellite System (A-GNSS) OTA test requirements. When paired with beamforming technology, MIMO offers the ability to deliver higher data rates, greater coverage, and lower operational costs. Equally compelling is the significant role A-GNSS technology plays in enabling the next-generation Location-Based Services (LBS), resulting in a vital need to accurately quantify and benchmark the performance of A-GNSS via OTA testing. These technologies, however, present increased complexity in RF testing of base stations and mobile device receivers making MIMO OTA testing more critical than ever before. A key objective of this panel session is to clearly illustrate the pre-commercial benefits of testing per the CTIA standards for radiated OTA performance, in addition to the 3GPP industry standards for conducted minimum performance. 

The GaAs foundry workshop will feature the latest information from WIN Semiconductors and OMMIC on the state of technology available from these leading compound semiconductor foundry services. III-V semiconductor ICs dominate mobile handsets where the market size is expected to hit $5 billion USD in 2016. China is one of the world’s fastest growing markets for mobile phones, and therefore a major consumer of GaAs-based switches and power amplifiers (PA), making this workshop especially relevant to our Beijing audience.

As authors, workshop sponsors and participating members of China’s RF, microwave and high-speed electronics community continue to submit content, these contributors provide shape to an event that will reflect the trends defining the future of this market; providing an indicator and guide to the next set of big microwave innovations, whatever these might be. Stay tuned.