ADIAnalog Devices expanded its RadioVerse™ technology and design ecosystem with the widest bandwidth RF transceiver (200 MHz that provides designers with a single radio platform for the deployment of 5G, sustaining 2G/3G/4G coverage, and simplifying phased array radar design. The ADRV9009 RF transceiver delivers twice the bandwidth of previous generation devices and replaces as many as 20 components, cutting power in half and package size by 60 percent. The device is tunable over a range of 75 MHz to 6 GHz to support 2G/3G/4G/5G services, which allows cellular equipment manufacturers to adopt a single, compact radio design across all band and power variants.

Just prior to the event, ADI announced a new synthesizer consisting of a PLL with fully integrated VCO as well as integrated low dropout regulators and integrated tracking filter technology. The ADF4371 is the highest frequency synthesizer and offers the widest continuous RF output range of 62 MHz to 32 GHz. It has a low PLL FOM (-234 dBc/Hz), low spurious (-100 dBc typ.), low VCO phase noise (-134 dBc/Hz @ 1 MHz offset at 8 GHz), and built-in tracking filter technology. The ADF4371 supports RF/microwave system designs across multiple markets, including aerospace and defense, test/measurement, communications infrastructure, as well as high-speed converter clocking.

Ampleon, formerly NXP’s RF power business that was sold when NXP acquired Freescale, offers LDMOS and GaN products for wireless infrastructure, RF energy, aerospace and defense and broadcast applications.

Preparing for the rollout of 5G, Ampleon is developing power amplifiers for the sub-6 GHz 5G bands, with both LDMOS and GaN devices — in some cases identical products in each technology, allowing the customer to trade performance and price. Consider, for example, a three-stage, 3.5 GHz Doherty amplifier developed for 5G massive MIMO base stations in China. The GaN amplifier provides 43 percent power-added efficiency, compared to 40 percent for the Gen 10 LDMOS version; the GaN version is currently twice as expensive.

While solid-state cooking gets all the press, Ampleon is seeing better adoption for other RF energy applications, beginning with plasma lighting — purported to make marijuana plants grow faster — plasma generation for semiconductor processing and industrial heating and drying. Rather than trying to displace the magnetron in microwave ovens, the RF energy industry has adopted a flanking strategy: develop a new appliance. A rapid defroster using LDMOS power amplifiers offers commercial kitchens and consumers a value proposition based on saving time.

While offering GaN products, Ampleon remains bullish on LDMOS. Christoph Cugge, VP of marketing, confidently stated that at next year’s IMS, we’ll see 5 GHz products in LDMOS.

Custom MMIC now offers more than 135 MMIC products, covering all the RF functions in a transceiver and up to 50 GHz, and standard products contribute some 80 percent of revenue. At IMS, the company featured a number of new products, including:

  • A 2 to 6 GHz ultra-low noise LNA with 0.6 dB maximum noise figure.
  • Three GaN LNAs covering 2.6 to 4, 5 to 7 and 8 to 12 GHz, with 1.2, 1.2 and 1.8 dB noise figure, respectively. The advantage of GaN is power handling — 5 W for these LNAs — and recovery time, enabling many applications to forgo a limiter to protect the LNA.
  • Four digital attenuators with performance to 30 and 40 GHz, in 2- and 5-bit configurations. The attenuators are available as die, with QFN-packaged versions planned.
  • A 6 W, 26 to 28 GHz power amplifier, with typical power-added efficiency between 28 and 32 percent. This amplifier was initially developed for NASA.

For many systems with long lifetimes, product obsolescence is a concern. Custom MMIC has begun developing “equivalent” products using alternate foundries, to ensure a substitute product will be available should one foundry exit the market.

Unfazed by the notion that the existing ranks of GaAs, GaN and silicon RFIC suppliers have saturated the market, Duet Microelectronics quietly entered the industry in 2016, claiming “nobody understands and solves RF challenges better and faster.” Perhaps entering a crowded field is not a foolish notion, as four of the five members of the leadership team last worked at ANADIGICS, including CEO John Van Saders and CTO Bob Bayruns. So company management arguably understands the markets and technology as well as anyone. Duet has published a catalog comprising five product families:

  • 450 to 6000 MHz LNAs for cellular and Wi-Fi.
  • Power amplifiers for the 3.5 GHz CBRS band.
  • Cable infrastructure amplifiers for DOCSIS 3.1.
  • FTTx optical receive modules for DOCSIS 3.1 and China’s SART.
  • Power amplifiers for 28 GHz 5G.

Perhaps most interesting is the use of InP for the 28 GHz power amplifiers, which Duet sees as a strategic advantage and a competitive technology for millimeter wave applications. The two InP power amplifiers cover the 27.5 to 28.35 GHz band with 24 and 27 dBm output power at 1 dB compression, greater than 38 and 40 percent power-added efficiency and a worst-case EVM of less that 2 percent RMS with a 256-QAM signal.

At ETL Systems booth, Dr Esen Bayar, Technical Director/CTO, explained the company’s expertise for “everything between antenna and baseband” for satcoms, and also talked about its offerings in fiber, handling signals from the antenna and transmitter. Based in the UK, the company’s product lines cover DC-40GHz and include L-Band routers, RF over fiber, switches, splitters/dividers, combiners and amplifiers. All of ETL Systems products are mission critical, so they have hot-swappable, redundant systems. For instance, the Enigma Matrix (consisting of 32 satellite inputs and 32 modems) was on display in the booth and is used for broadcast, intelligence gathering, and communications. (Different versions have different levels of security.) Other products in the booth included modular transmitter and receiver cards for converting RF to light, impedance conversion devices, and a waterproof transmission unit for GPS, which can be mounted on the outside of a building with one antenna and send timing data to multiple places within the building.

GFGLOBALFOUNDRIES announced a new ecosystem partner program a few months ago, called RFwave™, designed to simplify RF design and help customers reduce time-to-market for a new era of wireless devices and networks. The last few years there has been an increasing demand for connected devices and systems that will require innovations in radio technologies to support the new modes of operation and higher capabilities. The RFwave Partner Program builds upon GF’s 5G vision and roadmap, with a focus on the company’s industry-leading radio frequency (RF) solutions, such as FD-SOI, RF CMOS (bulk and advanced CMOS nodes), RF SOI and silicon germanium (SiGe) technologies. The program provides a low-risk, cost-effective path for designers seeking to build highly optimized RF solutions for a range of wireless applications such as IoT across various wireless connectivity and cellular standards, standalone or transceiver integrated 5G front end modules, mmWave backhaul, automotive radar, small cell and fixed wireless and satellite broadband. RFwave enables customers to build innovative RF solutions as well as packaging and test solutions.

Fabless MMIC start-up Guerrilla RF introduced two LNAs and a mixer at IMS and announced the company’s intent to offer AEC-Q100-certified products for the automotive market, beginning with three amplifiers. The two new LNA products, the first InGaP HBT MMICs offered by Guerrilla RF, are tunable over 100 to 3800 GHz and typically draw only 15 mA at 3.3 V bias. The mixer has single-ended inputs and outputs and requires an external image reject filter on the RF port and a bandpass filter on the IF; the RF and IF bands extend from 100 MHz to 5 GHz. The LO, with a frequency range from 100 MHz to 4 GHz, has an integrated LO buffer amplifier to reduce the external drive required.

IDT released mmWave beamformer ICs that are 4-element T/RX half-duplex silicon ICs designed using an advanced SiGe BiCMOS process for 5G phased-array applications. The IDT chips F5280 and F5390 address the three major worldwide bands of 24.25 to 27.5 GHz, 27.5 to 29.5 GHz, and 37 to 41 GHz. The core ICs have 5-bit and 6-bit phase control and more than 35 dB gain control on each channel to achieve fine beam steering and gain compensation between radiating elements. In transmit mode, the chips have 23 dB gain and 13 dBm OP1dB. In the receive mode, the receive gain is 23 dB with an NF of 5 to 7 dB and an IP1dB of -25 dBm, over the band. The core chips operate at 2.1 to 2.5 V and feature ESD protection on all pins. The core design includes standard SPI protocol that operates at up to 50 MHz with fast-beam switching, fast beam-state loading, and fast on-chip beam storage. The ICs also have four external bias pins (5-bit DACs) to control an optional external LNA/PA module and temperature reporting capability.

InfineonInfineon was showing off many solutions for 5G and smart sensors including smart home applications. They had a mmWave demo with beamforming for 5G cellular networks that was a 28 GHz demonstrator with Infineon chipsets BEA<28/BGT28UD - integrated 8x8 antenna array. There is a motherboard with digital electronics that connects to the RF module with the 8x8 antenna array on one side and the beamforming ICs on the other side. Each beamformer supports 4 antenna elements and the array has an ERIP of greater than 46 dBm. They were also showing off their smart home sensors of many types for monitoring everything in the home.

ITEQ Corporation announced last year the introduction of its new halogen free IT-8350G and IT-8338G products for use in a range of RF
applications. IT-8350G, with a nominal dielectric constant of 3.50 +/-0.04, is the next generation halogen free product for legacy base stations, power amplifiers, 24 GHz automotive radar applications, 77 GHz short-range and medium-range radar systems, 5 G base stations and mm wave applications, direct broadcast systems, and a number of antenna applications. IT-8338G, with a nominal dielectric constant of 3.38 +/- 0.04. is the next generation halogen free product for base stations, power amplifiers, LNBs for direct broadcast systems and antenna applications. These products are built using Thermoset resins. The products have a Tg around 200°C and a decomposition temperature (Td) in excess of 405°C. This year they have released low cost antenna versions of these materials aimed at base station antennas for 4G and 5G.

Integra Technologies introduced its X-Band GaN portfolio ranging from 15 to 200 W optimized to meet the high efficiency needs of next generation radar systems. These parts leverage Integra's multi-decade heritage of designing for high performance radar systems.  With an extensive die library and a 100% US based supply chain, Integra can quickly prototype a custom solution to meet your specific system requirements and get you to market faster.

Lark RF Technology showcased its custom design capabilities for RF, millimeter wave, and high-speed digital applications. Of particular note was a demonstration of the company’s IP which allows them to space 1 mil between traces, which mitigates coupling with via stitching. What’s unique is this technique creates walls instead of vias, and can operate up to 60GHz with 120dB of isolation. The company also has manufacturing facilities as well in Phoenix, where they are currently ramping up staff. They work with overseas partners for large volume production.

MacomMACOM had many announcements including a portfolio of Non-Linear Transmission Line (NLTL) comb generators optimized to meet the demanding performance requirements of radar transceiver, VSAT and microwave radio applications. The industry-leading phase noise performance delivered by MACOM’s MLPNC Series comb generators is expected to significantly improve the overall performance of RF multiplier modules, complemented by a variable low input power profile (18 - 24 dBm) that relaxes the power requirements on power amplifiers and reduces overall power consumption.  They also announced a portfolio of Ka-Band power amplifiers optimized for next-generation SATCOM and VSAT applications requiring uncompromising high-speed connectivity, efficiency and reliability. Available in 2, 2.3, 3, 4 and 6 W power output options spanning frequency ranges from 27 to 31.5 GHz, these new GaAs-based Ka-Band PAs are expected to provide industry-leading linearity and IM3, and best-in-class performance across a range of key metrics. MACOM’s Ka-Band MAAP Series PAs can deliver up to 24.5 dB of linear gain, 29% power added efficiency and saturated output power (PSAT) up to 38.5 dBm, with IM3 levels up to -25 @ 27 dBm.  Another announcement was the availability of its new MADT-011000 power detector for use in applications spanning microwave radios, test and measurement (T&M) equipment and radar systems. Operating from 5 – 44 GHz and supporting high dynamic range of 30 dB (-15 to +15 dBm), MACOM’s MADT-011000 power detector features industry-leading wide-input bandwidth and device performance to enable optimal power control. The single-ended, internally-matched MADT-011000 consumes 70 µA from a 4.5 V supply, while the matched detector and reference diodes provide temperature compensation in differential operation. Additionally, they announced the newest entries in its high-performance RF switch portfolio. Optimized for use in SATCOM, 5G wireless, test and measurement, EW and microwave radio applications, the GaAs-based SPDT MASW Series switches provide best-in-class broadband frequency coverage and high-speed switching capability. The new MASW-011105 SPDT reflective switch covers the 17.7 – 31 GHz frequency range, with low insertion loss of 1.6 dB, high isolation at 30dB and switching speed of 12 ns, offered in a lead-free 3 mm, 14-lead QFN surface mount plastic package.  The new MASW-011107 SPDT non-reflective switch, offered in bare die format, covers the DC – 26.5 GHz frequency range, with low insertion loss of 1.3 dB and high isolation at 46 dB when operating at 20 GHz. Lastly, they announced a new portfolio of wideband double-balanced mixers, covering the 8 – 43 GHz and 18 – 46 GHz frequency ranges. Delivering low conversion loss, high linearity and a wide intermediate frequency (IF) bandwidth, the new MAMX Series mixers are well suited to meet the performance requirements for next-generation Test and Measurement, Microwave Radio and Radar applications. The double-balanced circuit configuration of the new MAMX Series mixers provides excellent port isolation, while internal 50-ohm matching simplifies the application.

MCV was featuring LTE 600 MHz duplexers with ultra-low PIM of -173 dBc. They are making these ultra-low PIM cavity filters from 350 MHz to 3.5 GHz which are in high demand for UHF, VHF, TETRA, 4G, LTE, X-Band, Ku-Band, Ka-Band, and 5G applications. They make cavity filters that solve difficult problems such as co-location band mitigation, very narrow band bandpass and reject, ultra-wide band duplexer and absorptive filters applications.

Mercury Systems has announced a bunch of contract wins over the last month or so including a $2.1M Electronic warfare module order for airborne application, $2.4M order for radar subsystems for a missile defense application and $3.8M millimeter wave microelectronics an order for a homeland security application. Their OpenRF modular system continues to benefit the company with faster design cycles and more reliable products.

Exhibiting at IMS for the first time, Micro Harmonics, a small firm based in Fincastle, Virginia, develops ferrite circulators and isolators for millimeter wave and sub-millimeter wave bands, i.e., 50 to 325 GHz. With technology and capabilities developed through SBIR funding, the company is now using the technology to develop circulator and isolator products for the scientific, medical, security and communications markets.

Microsemi is being acquired by MicroChip but had already acquired Vectron so now has access to SAW and timing products. They were featuring a 1030-1090 2200 GaN pallet with 30 micro sec pulse width and 2% duty cycle for avionics applications. They were also featuring VCXO to 3.2 GHz with jitter below 10 fsec and VCSO with less than 180 dBc/Hz noise figure. They have been expanding their MMIC products and offer a full line of DC to 65 GHz products from amplifiers to switches to attenuators.

M/CMini-Circuits announced in April an expansion of their product line into the millimeter wave bands to give customers more options and more capabilities for high frequency applications. Recent additions to our portfolio include a growing variety of MMIC mixers, multipliers, couplers and attenuators to 40 GHz and higher, connectorized active and passive products, coaxial cables, and adapters up to 50 GHz, and now coaxial terminations up to 65 GHz. Highlights included were:

  • Coaxial RF Termination, DC to 65 GHz
  • Flat-Gain Distributed Amplifier, 50 kHz to 40 GHz
  • 40 GHz HandFlex™ Interconnect Cables
  • 40 GHz MMIC Double Balanced Mixer
  • 40 GHz MMIC Frequency Doubler

They were also featuring their modular test systems which can be configured in many custom combinations. Their partner Vayyar was also on site showing off their VNA kit where you can build a VNA from the SDR chip and Mini-Circuits passive components.

Morion recently published Precise Frequency Sources Meeting the 5G Holdover Time Interval Error Requirements with MWJ. Synchronization is an essential prerequisite for all mobile networks to operate. It is fundamental to data integrity; without it, data will suffer errors and networks can suffer outages. Radio base stations rely on having access to reliable and accurate reference timing signals in order to generate radio signals and maintain frame alignment. Effective synchronization also permits hitless handover of subscriber connections between adjacent radio base stations. The measurement of time interval error (TIE) is a method for evaluating reference timing signals and this article describes the process.