Multi-functional Arrays – Analog Devices, Inc.

Keith Benson Director Amplifier Products

Military systems are very much aligned to other markets and applications – more productivity is needed out of less material. In order to reduce the Size, Weight, and Power as well as the cost (SWAP-C), the hardware in these applications is continuously pushed to higher levels of performance to meet stronger demands often at a lower cost than was done previously. Luckily advancements in semiconductor technology often keeps up this trend to offer significant improvements over existing solutions. We see the below trends in 2021:

  • We expect the trend of making systems electronically configurable to continue to proliferate. We find that military environments are demanding more functionality out of less hardware driving each piece of hardware to be more versatile. The common consideration is when is the performance good enough out of a multi-function system compared to what could be done with a more targeted solution. Or very often the requirement demands the performance out of a versatile solution matches the targeted solution with new technology becoming available. We continue to see that the electronics growth in each system outpaces the mechanical growth such that the underlying semiconductor technology is the core differentiator. The semiconductor technology is also quite diverse and advancing rapidly.
  • This trend will materialize in different ways. One such solution could be a multi-band radar solution that can cover L- and S-band in the same antenna with the ability to switch between operating bands. A second solution could be a AESA for radar that is also capable of data communications. This could manifest itself as a power amplifier that was previously only needed to generate saturated power now also needing some level of linear data transmission capability to it. We continue to see the military environment demanding more capability out of each piece of hardware.  
  • Phased Array antenna continue to grow in their intended applications. Analog beamforming has been the foundation for AESA antenna for many years with more infiltration of digital beamforming happening each year. This has led to the idea of hybrid beamforming or a combination of digital and analog beamforming. There are benefits to each approach and different use cases will prefer one over the other. In general, we see this trend to continue as data converters reach higher frequencies and reduce in power dissipation.  
  • Some of the obvious but persistent challenges with AESA antenna are related to the size and thermal considerations. There continues to be a push to drive down the size of the solutions with ideally no power dissipated to generate the necessary EIRP. This trend will continue as we see advanced packaging techniques integrating more pieces of the signal chain into a single component. New process technology which allows for reduced power consumption as well as better thermally conductive interface materials continue to improve and make these systems more achievable.


The Next Five Years of Microwave in Space – Analog Devices, Inc.

Sean Darcy – Director Aerospace and Defense and Chris Chipman – Manager Space  

The space market is changing rapidly in a way that not even COVID-19 can slow down.  Commercial space is being driven by the promise of large communications clusters and the new United States Space Force is looking to build out its own high-density constellations.  All this while the “classic space” players continue to build to provide high bandwidth stationary coverage, GPS III launches and a push to return to the moon.  A couple of predictions for the next five years:

  • The industry will move towards a consensus standard for commercial space components, SiPs and subsystems.  Much like the ASTM drove consensus standards in aviation, we will see an agreed upon worldwide definition for the next generation of space electronics created by industry as opposed to government agencies. 
  • The pendulum for space screening and heritage will swing back towards a more robust space requirement that addresses the needs of the high-volume constellations but provides high reliability for critical systems. Though commercial plastic can be utilized in space applications, there will still be value for testing, qualification and manufacturing standards that lessen the probability of failure of on-orbit space vehicles.  While this will not approach full classic space qualification, items like lot acceptance testing, outgas measurements, Single Event Effects mitigation, environmental extensions and 30-100 kiloRad radiation qualification will continue to be valued.
  • On orbit Communications Array will continue to be based on Hybrid and/or Analog Beam Former Integrated Circuit technology due to concerns regarding cost, power consumption and thermal dissipation. Full direct sample or digital beam former systems will continue to advance and will incorporate more functions closer to the antenna and will see deployment in the latter half of the decade. To support the drive towards digital, more of the fabric and functionality surrounding digital decimation and digital expansion of large amounts of data will be incorporated into digitizers.
  • Partnerships or consolidations in the space industry will drive the combination of the legacy high bandwidth provides with the newer “space based internet” providers to combine coverage by the marriage of stationary systems providing high bandwidth fixed data while the low earth orbit (LEO) component provides the low latency interactive data. This combination will maximize the strengths of both architectures.
  • While the altruistic mission of providing internet connectivity to the world (a least those closer to the equator) is a righteous goal, providing a high speed and low latency connection that is extremely secure and allocated to business data and processing will be the main driver of the new LEO Communications Cluster’s economic survival.  Companies that provide data services, data storage and the data pipe will benefit immensely from the combination of secure on-orbit networks and insolated dedicated bandwidth.
  • Both military and civilian satellites will move significantly higher in the spectrum where permitted.  While present plans go as high as 80 GHz, for communications between satellites one could see 130Ghz plus depending on the application and range.   Industry develop antenna on package solutions to meet this demand due to shrinking geometries.


Communications & 5G

Peadar Forbes - Marketing and Applications Director, Chris O Neill - Senior Product Marketing Director, Kerem OK - Product Line Director and Donal McCarthy – Marketing Director

2020 has certainly been a tumultuous year and many will be satisfied to see the back of it. Even so many gains continued in the Wireless Communications arena in 2020 despite the economic hardships. 5G Sub 6 GHz is the new kid on the block and promising to open a raft of new use cases and deliver performance. ORAN promises to disrupt the traditional vendor supply chain. mmW 5G is building in FWA. And finally, Wireless Backhaul is evolving to dual use radios and higher frequencies. Read on for some exciting new trends…

5G Network Ecosystem – Sub 6 GHz

  • The 5G ecosystem developed well across all bands in 2020, with sub 6GHz M-MIMO deployments ramping more prominently as expected. Despite some doubts early in the year about operators’ ability to monetize this new generation & sustain investment, ARPUs have been improving with wider adoption.
  • We see the upcoming C-band spectrum auction in the US as bullish overall for the technology as it underpins the layered coverage / capacity approach using different spectrum bands as widely discussed in the industry.

Private and Industrial 5G networks

  • Factories are looking to 5G to solve a multitude of problems. Quick reconfiguration of the factory floor allows factory owners to maintain up-time and react to the changing needs of their customers. 
  • The factory floor must also be safe requiring ultra-low latency links to allow fast reactions when danger appears and video is increasingly used to monitor for safety, requiring high bandwidth links.
  • Finally tracking of assets in and out of the factory improves operational logistics.
  • Features included in 5G such as URLLC (ultra-reliable low latency communications), Massive Machine Type Communications and network slicing address all these challenges and offer a future proof.


  • If 2020 was the year of O-RAN hype, 2021 will be when the rubber hits the road. Already we have seen Rakuten in Japan roll out their O-RAN network showing good speeds and a growing subscriber base, confounding some sceptics. The industry will watch closely how the network holds up to increased traffic loads to see if the promise of O-RAN will be delivered.
  • Eyes will also be on Dish as they roll out their greenfield network in the US, along with a multitude of smaller brownfield deployments across the globe.

5G mmW Use cases

  • We expect broader deployment of FWA as leading early use case for mmW 5G followed by accelerating mobility deployments within 2H2021, driven in part by more leading handset vendors including FR2 capability in their latest generation devices.
  • We see US continuing to lead in mmW focus.
  • There’s a case to be made that the pandemic has accelerated the FWA use case due to data demand densities shifting, cable incumbents adopting their strategy and WFH becoming the default mode of operation for most urban areas.
  • We have been pleased to see that operators are able to start monetizing 5G even before widespread deployment of the oft cited relatively more “exotic” use cases such as AR/VR & autonomous driving.

Wireless Backhaul

  • In 2021 we will see traditional bands (6-42GHz) radio volumes erode, while higher capacity bands radio volumes will grow.
  • E-Band will provide the bulk of the solution while W & D bands will start to move from R&D projects to real production platforms.
  • Starting with 4G, the architectures of the Backhaul system have added standalone E-Band Radios where licensing is available. 
  • As 5G Networks expand into all areas of the Globe, Dual Use Radios will become more standard and E-Band will be used exclusively where licensing and traffic/link use case dictate (last mile or urban links etc.). 
  • As 5G becomes more ubiquitous even higher capacity (first starting with W-Band and within a few years D-Band) Radios will start to be deployed.


  • New LEO constellations will continue to be fielded throughout 2021/2022 and will become part of the 5G ecosystem. There are many public announcements for new LEO constellations being introduced by non-traditional Satellite companies who intend to radically change how rural (and potentially higher density locations) terrestrial and Aeronautical and Maritime connectivity is achieved. 

See what MathWorks predicts modeling and simulation on the next page.