Microwave Journal

Game Changers

February 3, 2014

“Game changing products” are the result of insight, hard work and smart, creative engineers who keep pushing the boundaries of technology, keeping our industry alive and thriving. The Journal and our readers benefit from their inspiring efforts and willingness to share. As a result, we have a healthy supply of exciting editorial in the pipeline to engage our audience and set the stage for upcoming conferences and trade shows.  

Our February issue highlights RF/microwave design at the component, board and system level. The bulk of RF/microwave component design happens either on the IC (RFIC/MMIC) level or the surrounding IC package and printed circuit board (PCB). All high frequency systems contain some degree of PCB design, even the much vaunted System-on-Chip (SoC) needs to be connected to the outside world via electronic packaging and PCB interconnects.

RF/microwave PCB design is itself an art form with the opportunity for engineers to achieve frequency-specific performance thanks to creative design in the layout of metal layers on substrate to implement distributed filters, matching circuits and patch antennas. This issue also concerns itself with the packaged ICs and discrete surface mount components that engineers integrate at the board level to perform the basic radio functions. February highlights include a perspective piece from Richardson RFPD on the use of GaN for achieving better SWaP (space, weight and price), a look at PCB materials themselves from Rogers Corp., a look at passive structures such as through-silicon vias and 3D inductors, and some of those distributed designs mentioned earlier (bandpass filters and folded antennas for an RFID reader).

Our March issue will also include an extended look at the technical conference and papers to be presented in Beijing at EDI CON 2014, the conference and trade show event being organized by Microwave Journal. The conference, created by engineers for engineers, is shaping up to be an important opportunity to introduce new products to Chinese design engineers and system integrators.  

March provides a related theme as we look at test and measurement technology in our main book and examine the state of RF/microwave cables and connectors in the annual March supplement. This issue is one of our most popular and for several reasons. With test instruments playing a critical role in both component modeling/characterization and final verification phase of design, test instruments are not only essential to the design process itself, they represent the state of the art in electronics today. Much of the performance in today’s T&M equipment is made possible only through the advanced electronics inside these boxes, from synthesizers and advanced switching to the cables and connectors inside. For this reason, many high performance component manufacturers sell their products to test equipment manufacturers and many readers follow the progress of test instruments to gauge the state of the industry as well as for potential purchasing. This year the cover story will feature a look at the challenge of taking a system designed for R&D test and transitioning for production test. The March cover story from National Instruments will help bridge the divide with some tips on best practices in designing a system that considers the specific needs of both.

Our March supplement cover looks at the cable connector global market from the perspective of several leading vendors. Our editors surveyed these vendors for their outlook on the market in 2014, applications driving demand and what that means for capability and the direction for future product development.

The April issue continues our interest in RF/microwave components with our annual Amplifier and Oscillator theme. These two types of components are among the most complex and difficult devices in the radio chain, responsible for linearity, efficiency and the noise performance of the entire communication system. This year’s cover feature, edited by MWJ Technical Editor Pat Hindle will look at recent developments in envelope tracking techniques for improving the linearity and efficiency of power amplifiers. This area of amplifier design is yielding some game-changing performance and opening the door to the use of CMOS devices in areas where III-V materials had dominated.