The 1997 MTT-S IMS: A High Time in Denver

Frank Bashore
Microwave Journal Staff

The 1997 MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) and Exhibition was held June 8 through 13 in Denver and by all accounts was a huge success. Attendance for the week-long conference at the Colorado Convention Center was 8585, certainly a respectable showing considering the obvious lack of day-trippers from the local area compared to last year’s event in San Francisco. Judging from the comments of many of the record number of exhibitors, the show traffic was composed largely of serious-minded visitors who were very interested in the various displays.

This year’s theme was “High Frequencies in High Places” and the many first-time visitors to Denver learned quickly about the effects of the city’s high altitude. Conference attendees were seen huffing and puffing along the streets around the convention center in a vain attempt to match their oxygen intake to their gait. To add to the excitement, the skies provided a spectacular show of weather each day. Tornado watches appeared as routinely as the local weather forecast. The afternoon lightning show arrived virtually like clockwork each day, and the frequent rain and even hail reminded more than a few poor souls that their raincoats were back at the hotel.

All things considered, most visitors found that the sometimes turbulent weather patterns didn’t dampen their enthusiasm and went on to enjoy the magnificent surroundings and the enormously interesting city of Denver. Most everyone was eager to explore the many sites and attractions, taste the locally brewed beer and sample the region’s interesting and unique menu items like buffalo and elk. A few sports fans even made it to see a baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves at brand-new Coors Field. In all, Microwave Week participants were treated to a thoroughly enjoyable week in a beautiful and hospitable city.

The Microwave Journal /MTT-S Reception

The Microwave Journal /MTT-S reception was held June 9 at the Denver Museum of Natural History, and attendees will attest to the captivating nature of this year’s venue. Along with the usual spread of fine food was Bose CentenniAle, a little-known local beer from the Microbrew Theory and Techniques brewery (talk about industry commercialization).

Ticket holders stood in long lines to view one of the two free screenings of a film on movie special effects, but the four-and-a-half-story IMAX® movie screen made the wait worthwhile. The museum also provided an educating experience for those guests who ventured upstairs to view the fascinating exhibits that span 3.5 billion years through the history of life on Earth. The facility is one of the finest of its kind and the hospitality of the staff was a tribute to the Denver community. A montage of the evening appears on pages 78 and 79.

The Technical Program

As has been the tradition, Microwave Week comprises the annual technical meetings and workshops for three professional societies/groups: the IEEE MTT-S IMS, the Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits (RFIC) Symposium (formerly known as the MMWMC) and the Automatic Radio Frequency Techniques Group (ARFTG) Conference. This year’s technical program featured well over 400 technical papers, but the real surprise was the 2600 attendees to the technical workshops. The Sunday workshops attracted approximately 500 participants alone — an amazing statistic considering those individuals had to travel to Denver one day early. Even the panel sessions were well attended, attracting 200 to 300 participants each. All of this activity certainly is a testimonial to the quality and relevance of the overall technical program and speaks well of the job this year’s organizing committee did to assemble an interesting and worthwhile symposium.

The Industry Exhibition

To the surprise of many, Denver set a new record for the number of exhibitors. Three hundred and eighty-seven companies occupying 525 booths chose to promote their latest products and services at this year’s industry exhibition. Judging by the comments received, most exhibitors and attendees thought this part of Microwave Week was a success as well; the lack of local day visitors did little to take away from the quality and quantity of traffic on the exhibition floor.

The Microwave Application and Product Seminars (mAPS), which were initiated last year in San Francisco, received much interest as well. These industry-sponsored presentations were presented alongside the exhibits and are proving to be a real benefit to equipment and component manufacturers and users as a way of providing technical information and background related to commercially available products.

Although space limitations prevent listing all of the new product introductions made by exhibitors, a brief sampling is provided. Anritsu Wiltron announced a 10 Hz to 40 GHz family of frequency counters, including the models MF2412A (20 GHz), MF2413A (27 GHz) and MF2414A (40 GHz), all with a 50 ms acquisition time and 0.18 s measurement time at 1 Hz resolution. The company also introduced the MS2650B and MS2660B series spectrum analyzers, which feature improved measurement capability, faster speed and greater resolution, and the MG3640 series RF signal generators with good spectral purity for cellular use. The ML2430A series power meters combining thermal accuracy with diode speed, a 110 GHz vector network analyzer and a two-port Site Master™ debuted in Denver as well.

Boonton Electronics presented the model 4500A RF peak power meter/analyzer for accurate spread spectrum measurements and the model 4400A RF peak power meter for time-domain measurements. Both instruments feature a peak power dynamic range of > 60 dB to +20 dBm with 0.1 dB resolution. The model 51077 peak power sensor with a 90 dB dynamic range was also introduced for measurements from 500 kHz to 18 GHz.

RF Micro Devices displayed the model RF2146 high power, high efficiency GaAs heterojunction bipolar transistor linear amplifier designed for use as the final amplifier in four-cell code-division multiple access hand-held digital cellular equipment and spread spectrum systems in the 1500 to 2000 MHz band. The amplifier features more than 28 dBm linear output power, 18.5 dB gain and 37 percent typical efficiency operating at 4.8 V. The new model RF2421 10 dB monolithic CMOS programmable switched attenuator for communications system use also was available for inspection at the exhibition. The attenuator uses GaAs MESFET technology and features one-bit digital control and 1 dB insertion loss.

Texas Instruments highlighted an array of RF and digital signal processing semiconductor products. These devices included the model TRF8011 900 MHz RF transmit driver amplifier, which was designed specifically as a driver amplifier for Global System for Mobile communications and Advanced Mobile Phone System and North American Digital Cellular applications, and the model TCM8030 baseband processor, which was designed for analog cellular telephone use. The amplifier features 26 dBm of output power at 4.8 V DC operation; the processor provides complete audio and data processing in a single 2.7 to 5.5 V DC device.

Toshiba America Electronic Components presented a solid lineup of microwave GaAs FETs and MMIC and mm-wave modules. Also among the new products on display were a Ka-band module operating at 38 GHz with a 25 dBm output power for point-to-point digital communications applications; a C-band GaAs FET with an output power of 45 W in the 5.9 to 6.4 GHz frequency range; and three new C-band MMIC modules at 3.7 to 5.1 GHz, 5.1 to 7.2 GHz and 7.1 to 8.5 GHz aimed at the satellite, wireless and military communications markets.

TRAK Microwave announced two new frequency synthesizer series. The 60-550 series synthesizers are 2 to 18 GHz indirect units featuring a 100 kHz step size and are designed for use in RF signal applications where low noise, quick delivery time and moderate cost are critical. The 60-560 series direct synthesizers tune from 2 to 18 GHz with a 10 kHz step size, 1 ms switching speed and low phase noise, and are designed for simulators, test stations and other low noise, high speed, wideband applications.

Colorado High Points

All was not business only during Microwave Week ’97. This beautiful capital city provided breathtaking scenery and a friendly atmosphere for those visitors who managed to break away from the show. The local residents were consistently pleasant and helpful, and always ready with a smile and a greeting. They did the city of Denver proud while playing host to the symposium’s multinational travelers.

Overlooking all of the activity were the spectacular Rocky Mountains, still topped with snow. The fortunate visitors who took the time to drive up into the mountains were treated to some of the most beautiful scenery the US has to offer. This respite was the frosting on the cake and created many fond memories of this 1997 gathering.

A Look Back and Ahead

Once again times are good in the microwave community. The commercial business climate is booming and most of the companies represented in Denver are up to their necks in commercial business. The flavor of the technical program certainly reflected this fact. Over 140 technical papers featured the word wireless in their titles and the overwhelming majority were aimed at commercial applications. The fact that the Denver event was so successful is another sign of the health and momentum of today’s business climate.

Next year the symposium will be held in Baltimore, traditionally a vibrant venue for this event. Many of this year’s exhibitors have already made the commitment to be there, one more indicator of the wave of well-being in the industry. Mark your calendars for June 7–12, 1998 and we’ll see you on the waterfront!