The 1998 MTTS-S IMS: Another Record-breaking Event

Frank Bashore
Microwave Journal Staff

The 1998 MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) and Exhibition was held June 7 through 12 in Baltimore and managed to break the attendance record set only two years ago in San Francisco. The week-long conference attracted 10,550 visitors to the relatively new and spacious Baltimore Convention Center and lived up to the predictions that this show would be a blockbuster event. In addition to the spectacular convention facility, many of the elegant and roomy hotels used by symposium attendees were within walking distance and the nearby Inner Harbor and Harborplace shops provided an interesting and attractive alternative to the scheduled program. The only frowns to be seen were on the faces of the few who managed to get caught in the brief rain showers that served as a prelude to the deluge many of us on the East Coast were to experience a short time later.

The theme of this year’s symposium was "Progress through Microwaves," a fitting depiction of the tremendous growth curve our industry is experiencing as a result of the wireless revolution that has gripped the entire world. The technical presentations and product displays were a far cry from the not-too-distant past when radar and missile guidance systems and electronic countermeasure equipment dominated the symposium. The energy and vitality emanating from the insatiable worldwide market for wireless systems have provided the answer to a question posed just a few short years ago: "Where are the new RF and microwave engineers?" (They were in Baltimore with the rest of us.) Once again, it is fashionable to be an RF/microwave engineer.

From all indications, the many attendees enjoyed not only the comprehensive technical program and the filled-to-capacity industry exhibition but also the shops and restaurants along the waterfront and in the city’s Little Italy section, lining these attractions like ants at a picnic. A few lucky souls managed to obtain tickets for the Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards on Sunday. Although the team was shut out by the Atlanta Braves, fans were treated to a ceremony in which Eddie Murray’s number 33 was retired.

The Microwave Journal/MTT-S Reception

If there was any doubt about record attendance at this year’s IMS it was certainly put to bed when the doors to the Maryland Science Center opened Monday evening for the Microwave Journal-/MTT-S-hosted reception. (A montage of the evening as well as scenes from the industry exhibition appears on pages 78 and 79.) A steady stream of hungry and thirsty guests poured through the entranceway for the first half hour of the event. The sides of the building were practically bulging from the crowd, but the incredibly interesting facility was able to accommodate all who attended while the caterer frantically scrambled to keep a beer or soda in everyone’s hand. Many took advantage of the opportunity to see the IMAX" theater’s presentation of Everest, a truly remarkable film set in one of the most remote spots on the planet during a tragic period of human suffering and loss of life. During the evening the numerous displays throughout the Science Center provided a fascinating backdrop amidst the chatter of old friends coming together.

The Technical Program

The IEEE MTT-S Technical Program Committee is to be congratulated on organizing a comprehensive technical program that featured 476 individual technical sessions, which included 126 interactive forums, 29 student presentations, 24 workshops and six panel sessions. As in prior years, Microwave Week included the Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits (RFIC) Symposium and the Automatic Radio Frequency Techniques Group (ARFTG) Conference. The RFIC Symposium’s technical program comprised 47 technical sessions and ARFTG’s two-day conference featured a full-day joint session with IMS in addition to four other technical sessions.

This year 3261 attendees registered for the technical program — another record attendance. Of this total, 2368 attended IMS, 765 signed up for RFIC and 128 registered for ARFTG. Continuing the trend from 1997, 1765 attended the popular workshops. (The workshop segment of the program has been steadily gaining in popularity during the last few years and seems to indicate a desire on the part of the attendees to be more active in the program.) Even more impressive was the 1525 individuals attending the noon panel sessions (399 in one session alone). In all, the technical program was a huge success and well worthwhile for the many participants.

The Industry Exhibition

The more commercial side of Microwave Week — the industry exhibition — also set records. Six hundred and sixty-seven booths filled the convention floor and were manned by 436 commercial exhibitors. These numbers far exceeded past show performance and attest to the vitality of the industry today. A sampling of the exhibitors certainly confirmed the perceived success of the show. Most said the floor traffic was abundant and steady throughout the three days, and lead lists were long.

A growing segment of the exhibit is the Microwave Application and Product Seminars (mAPS), which just finished their third year. Exhibitors find these presentations are an excellent means of introducing new products and techniques. Thirty-eight mAPS sessions were held in the exhibit hall Tuesday through Thursday and attendance was strong.

As always, many of the exhibiting companies chose to introduce new products at the show, a sampling of which is described here. Anadigics displayed three high power, high gain GaAs MMIC amplifiers for cellular and personal communications service (PCS) applications. The model AWT921 amplifier is designed for 900 MHz base station use, the model AWT1921 can be used in 1.61 GHz satellite communications applications and the model AWT1922 is suitable for 1.9 GHz PCS and Global System for Mobile communications base stations. The model AWR0901 high linearity GaAs MMIC receiver was also introduced for cellular base station use.

Applied Wave Research demonstrated Microwave Office, an integrated RF/microwave design suite that includes VoltaireXL,™ an object-driven circuit simulator for linear and nonlinear circuits, and EMSight,™ a full-wave electromagnetic simulator.

Dow-Key Microwave displayed a family of low cost, miniature PCB-mounted switches operating to 3 GHz, including SP2T fail-safe, transfer and bypass switches. The units can be hot switched at 10 W CW and handle up to 50 W CW.

Emerson & Cuming Microwave Products introduced a new series of low loss dielectric materials. ECCOSTOCK" features dielectric constants of 1.04 to 30.00 with loss tangents of less than 0.002. The material is particularly effective in antennas and for tuning slugs in high Q cavities, microwave pressurized waveguide windows and coaxial devices.

EiC unveiled new broadband, low voltage GaAs heterojunction bipolar transistor RFICs operating down to 3 V levels for applications in the 500 to 3000 MHz frequency range. The RFIC family includes a high isolation limiting amplifier, variable gain amplifier, driver, low noise amplifier (LNA)/downconverter and two upconverters.

Ericsson surprised everyone with its 60 and 120 W, 1.8 to 2 GHz laterally diffused metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors. The high power devices are intended for use in code-division multiple access and time-division multiple access applications.

HP EEsof demonstrated its active physical device simulator, which is used for fast and accurate simulation of MESFET and high electron mobility transistor designs, and MICRO-COAX displayed flexible microwave coaxial cable assemblies with low profile, right-angle SMA connectors for installation in space-restricted enclosures. A family of semirigid cable assemblies for high reliability and spaceflight applications also was available for viewing.

A 28 GHz high power amplifier for local multipoint distribution system and satellite applications was displayed by mm-Tech. The 10 W solid-state power amplifier is designed to replace traveling-wave tube amplifiers.

Motorola demonstrated a series of RFIC front-end building blocks for 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz use, which are designed with the MOSAIC V™ high frequency bipolar wafer process. The model MC13142 IC includes LNA, VCO and down mixer functions; the models MC13143 and MC13144 ICs provide the down mixer and LNA functions, respectively.

An ultra-low power phase-locked loop (PLL) was shown by Peregrine Semiconductor. The model PE3292 is a 1.2 GHz/550 MHz dual fractional-N PLL designed for efficient high performance frequency synthesis requirements.

RF Micro Devices introduced five 3 V silicon amplifiers for use as output amplifiers for industrial, scientific and medical band applications; cellular and PCS driver amplifiers; oscillator loop amplifiers; and buffer amplifiers. The amplifiers produce gain levels of 12 to 19 dB at frequencies of 100 to greater than 2000 MHz.

Rogers Corp. unveiled a new laminate series for constructing cost-effective high frequency circuits. The RO3200™ series materials are woven-glass-reinforced, ceramic-filled polytetrafluoroethylene laminates, which exhibit good electrical characteristics that include stable dielectric constant over temperature and low dielectric loss. The materials feature increased rigidity and improved processability over nonwoven-reinforced laminates.

Texas Instruments announced its model TRF3040 BiCMOS modulator/synthesizer, which supports both the 900 MHz cellular and 1.9 GHz PCS frequency bands. The device features a high degree of variable gain linearity and an on-chip fractional-N synthesizer.

Going Forward

Once again, it will be difficult to top this year’s symposium and exhibition where the stage was set for success: The technical society organized a great conference, our industry was standing tall, the city of Baltimore played a gracious host and the people came in abundance. However, next year in Anaheim is already shaping up to be a great time. The attractiveness of Southern California and the tremendous momentum of the business climate could produce yet another record-breaking event. Plan to spend June 13–19, 1999 at the Anaheim Convention Center. See you there!