Richard Mumford, MWJ International Editor
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Former Editor Richard Mumford's archived blog postings are available here. Serving as MWJ’s liaison to the international microwave community for more than 17 years, Richard filed his monthly international report and contributed articles from our London office.

electronica 2014 – Celebrating A Golden Age of Electronics

November 14, 2014

The world's leading trade fair for Electronic Components, Systems and Applications celebrated its golden anniversary when electronica took over the Messe München from 11 to 13 November. Since its inauguration in 1964 the biannual event has been at the forefront of innovation and technology. It was the launchpad for the microchip and at a time when electronics is impacting more and more on everyday life it continues to be a platform for innovation and a gateway for future technology.

50 years ago the success story of electronica began with the founding of Messe München and even then exhibitors and visitors from Germany and abroad packed the exhibition halls. Established on the initiative of US companies, the trade fair soon evolved into the premier event of the electronics industry. A major contributor to its success is that it offers a complete overview of the electronics industry, from components and systems via applications to electronics services.

In 2014 electronics is at the forefront of innovation and the basis for the latest technologies that impact and shape everyday lives such as the Internet of Things, the potential of which seems to hold no boundaries. This year’s key topics were automotive, embedded systems and lighting, as well as the over-arching themes of security and energy efficiency.

Trade Fair

The latest trends were showcased throughout the twelve exhibition halls that housed 2,737 exhibitors from 50 countries. Since 1964, electronica has been showing the electronic trends of tomorrow and providing a comprehensive overview of the international industry.

The countries with largest contingents of exhibitors (in order) were: Germany, China, Taiwan, USA, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Italy, France, Switzerland and Republic of Korea. Significantly, the largest increase in exhibitors from two years ago came from China, Taiwan, Estonia, Republic of Korea and Slovakia.

The products on show covered the entire spectrum of technologies, products and solutions; from semiconductors, sensors, measuring and testing, electronics design, passive components, power supply, PCBs and other non-mounted circuit carriers through to EMS.

Product Announcements

With the electronics industry being so wide and diverse, not all on show at electronica 2014 was pertinent to Microwave Journal readers, particularly as many companies had launched and showcased their latest products at European Microwave Week in October. However, a number of manufacturers active in the RF and microwave sector made significant announcements. To provide an idea of the diversity and variety that the trade fair offered the following provides a cross-section of some of the new products showcased. It is impossible to mention them all here and apologies to any company not represented.

Aaronia AG showed a wide range of its portfolio that includes handheld spectrum analyzers, EMC and pre-compliance antennas, USB analysers, near field probes and EMF shielding. Centre stage was the SPECTRAN V5 Real-time Spectrum Analyzer, which utilises a shifted poly-phase-filter in conjunction with a patented local oscillator measurement process.

The V5 uses a patented receiving method with two staggered combs that are produced by a polyphase filter, which has the capability of covering more than one interval of sampling points, based on the number of frequency points. Thereby any filter curve (e.g. real Gauss-filter) can be realised without limitation of the slope due to the predetermined interval. To avoid gaps in the frequency-time-diagram, two spatially and temporary staggered filter combs are used for analysis.

The real-time streaming function enables the SPECTRAN V5 to stream data continuously and save the data gap-free on PC e.g. via high-speed USB-interface. The real-time streaming offers a variety of new applications such as recording and repeated playing of any signal or a subsequent, complete decoding of complete recorded digital signals like GSM, TETRA, etc.

Anritsu featured the ShockLine™ family of Vector Network Analyzers for the testing of passive devices such as cables, connectors, filters, and antennas. They can perform the single-ended and mixed-mode S-parameter measurements typically required for production testing of passive devices, offering frequency coverage up to 40GHz. They can also conduct path loss characterization of complex systems. Faults in broadband devices can be easily and quickly identified using a time-domain with time-gating option.

The VNAs feature no display or keypad, and are controlled remotely by computer via a LAN or other connection. A small 2U chassis allows them to easily slide into rack configurations. The space-saving design does not, however, compromise performance. For instance, the ShockLine MS46522A VNA features a 70µs/point sweep speed, >110dB dynamic range and corrected directivity of >42dB. As well as the MS46522A series there is the Economy ShockLine MS46322A 2-port VNA, for measurements up to 40 GHz and the MS46524A 4-port VNAs for differential and multi-port device testing up to 7 GHz.

Cobham Wireless, formerly Aeroflex wireless business unit demonstrated its latest RF, wireless and ATE products, including the new Fast Measurement Option 194, which enables PXI 3000 Series users to perform power measurements quickly, thus reducing test times when testing RFIC power amplifiers. There was also a live demonstration of an automatic test system that combines a 5800 ATE system with PXI 3000 Series modular RF test instrumentation to add RF measurements to Cobham Wireless’s combinational test platform strategy.

Also featured were the 2201 ProLock Phone Tester for 2G and 3G mobile phones and wireless data cards, which is now being widely adopted for the RF validation of M2M modems, along with a new SPS-8 USB power sensor, designed for use with the S-Series RF signal generators and signal analyzers. The SPS has a wide dynamic range over the entire frequency range from 10 MHz to 8 GHz, and is capable of making real-time measurements at a rate of 2000 readings per second.

Computer Simulation Technology AG (CST) presented new features for EDA simulation in CST STUDIO SUITE 2015, which have been developed to accelerate the simulation process and make it easier for users to analyze and optimize their designs. CST STUDIO SUITE 2015 introduces a new tetrahedral meshing algorithm which is optimized for printed electronics. It exploits knowledge of the general structure of imported models such as PCBs and packages to assemble and mesh them much faster. For frequency domain simulations of complex packages, it is claimed that this can reduce the total meshing time sevenfold.

Another significant new feature is the introduction of Pareto frontier optimization for decoupling capacitors. The placement of decoupling capacitors can significantly improve the PI performance of a PCB, but also increases the cost of fabrication. With Pareto frontier optimization, the software can automatically balance the two competing design goals and find the combination of capacitors that minimizes the cost while meeting the design requirements. CST STUDIO SUITE 2015 also includes a range of other performance and productivity improvements developed to make the integration of simulation into the EDA workflow easier and more powerful.

e2v announced the planned launch of its next generation of microwave capable Digital-to-Analogue Converters (DACs). The new EV12DS400 DAC extends performance by multiplying the sampling frequency by a factor of 1.5 (compared with e2v’s previous EV12DS130 DAC) at speeds of up to 4.5GSPS. It is claimed that, for the first time on a DAC, this new product will introduce mathematical simulation models to ease the work of multi-Nyquist frequency planning. Strengthening further the DAC microwave capability, the output bandwidth of the EV12DS400 is aimed well into the C-band area with up to 8 GHz and offers new waveform features to open new possibilities to adjust DAC output power versus output frequency.

The company also featured the latest in a long line of high performance BDCs for military applications, which are based on a high speed, single core architecture, bringing critical benefits to military systems.

For IMST the focus was on the iU880A-L. The newest member of the WiMOD radio module family is a compact and cost-effective USB adapter based on the iM880A-L Long Range Radio module using Semtech’s LoRaTM modulation technology. The product family for Smart Metering Applications, based on the iM871A was also presented. The family consists of the module itself, the iM871A-usb Wireless M-Bus USB adapter and the PA-iM871A Wireless M-Bus Analyzer, a tool to monitor the Wireless M-Bus communication according to EN 13757-4.

The new 24 GHz radar product line was also presented in conjunction with the SENTIRE platform, an intelligent multirotor flight system. The lightweight and compact micro radar module has a multi-channel receiver to detect the target angle in addition to the conventional measurement capabilities of distance and speed.

Isola Group S.à r.l. announced the successful completion of Class 2 testing of laminate materials for Conductive Anodic Filament (CAF) resistance; the laminate materials were constructed with glass fabric woven at subsidiary, Isola Fabrics.

The successful completion of Class 2 of CAF testing for Bosch is very promising for future applications for electric vehicles. The electrochemical migration testing was performed at 85°C and 85% relative humidity using a 100V bias. The test vehicle samples were produced at Schweizer Electronic AG and incorporated 120 via holes at a 0.65 mm hole-to-hole pitch using two different resin systems in a six-layer stack up and with glass styles ranging from 106, 1080, 2116 to 7628. Isola’s laminate materials exceeded the 1000-hour testing protocol with no evidence of any electrical issues or CAF failures. This successful test provides great insight for the development of optimal CAF-resistant materials for electric vehicle and other high-voltage applications.

electronica was the first major event for Keysight Technologies since it began trading as an independent company, which began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on 3 November. The company introduced the prewired N8900 Series rack system for high-power DC applications requiring up to 90 kW. The rack system helps engineers address voltages up to 1500 V and currents up to 3060 A.

The company also introduced 200, 300 and 500 MHz, high-voltage probing solutions with a wider input range, higher common-mode rejection ratio and optimized accessories. The Keysight N2804A differential probe offers up to 300 MHz bandwidth and ±300 Vdc + peak AC of the maximum differential input range, allowing engineers to use it for a broad range of power applications. The N2805A 200 MHz differential probe comes with a 5 m input cable, which allows engineers to easily reach DUTs over long distances.

Claimed to be the industry’s highest bandwidth and lowest noise oscilloscope probe for making power integrity measurements to characterize DC power rails, the Keysight N7020A power-rail probe specifications are tailored for a wide variety of DC power-rail measurements. Probe specifications include very low noise, a large ± 24 V offset range and 2 GHz bandwidth. Also announced was the introduction of Controller Area Network with Flexible Data-rate (CAN FD) and Single-Edge Nibble Transmission (SENT) decoding and triggering options for its InfiniiVision 4000 X-Series oscilloscopes. The new capabilities improve engineers’ efficiency in debugging CAN FD and SENT serial buses, which are used primarily in automotive applications.

Dielectric Laboratories (DLI), Novacap, Syfer Technology and Voltronics have come together into a single organisation, Knowles Capacitors. The V9000 series is the newest, smallest, high voltage trimmer capacitor from Voltronics specifically designed for the MRI industry. The V9000 Sapphire trimmer capacitor delivers a capacitance range of 1 to 12 pF, has a high Q (3000 min at 100 MHz); DC working voltage of 2000 V and DC withstand of 3000 V. They are also compatible with SAC 305 reflow processing.

From Dielectric Laboratories comes the PDW05758 Wilkinson power divider designed to provide in phase power splitting or combining over a broad bandwidth in low power applications. This is achieved by application of precision thin film fabrication with integrated resistors, coupled with the company’s high permittivity ceramic materials, to provide a high performance and repeatable design solution.

Not to be outdone Syfer Technology showcased the new PSL range of cost effective MLC capacitors. Features include C0G and X7R dielectric options; a capacitance range from 220 pF to 1.5 µF, temperature range up to 125ºC, rated voltages of 50 V to 2 kV and full compliance with the RoHS and WEEE directives and lead-free solders.

R&S RTO-K17 and R&S RTE-K17 high definition software options that are now available from Rohde & Schwarz were demonstrated publicly for the first time. The high definition mode increases the vertical resolution of the oscilloscopes to up to 16 bits – a 256-fold improvement over 8-bit resolution. To achieve this higher resolution, the signal is low-pass filtered directly after the A/D converter. The filter reduces the noise, thereby increasing the signal-to-noise ratio. Users can adjust the bandwidth of the lowpass filter from 10 kHz to 500 MHz as needed to match the characteristics of the applied signal.

Also, new the R&S RTO-K26 MIPI D-PHY compliance test software offers automated tests in line with the current v1.1 specifications of the MIPI®Alliance and the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). The software is tailored to the needs of developers of smartphones and mobile devices with MIPI D-PHY implementation. Test results, including a summary of measurement details and traces, can be generated in *.docx, *.pdf or *.html format. The user can run the compliance test software either directly on the R&S RTO or on a LAN connected computer.

Announced too, the R&S RTM-K15 history and segmented memory option expands the maximum memory depth of the R&S RTM bench oscilloscope to what is claimed to be an unprecedented 460 Msample per channel. The segmented memory has a variable depth ranging from 10 ksample to 20 Msample, enabling acquisition of up to 45,000 individual waveform segments. The R&S RTM-K15 is especially beneficial when analyzing protocol sequences and pulse packets that include long gaps.

Rosenberger showed its wide range of products including its microwave cable assemblies for frequencies up to 70 GHz. The range includes ultra low loss cables for antennas or applications with high power requirement, miniature cables for test systems or applications with high flexibility, indoor and outdoor cables, special shielded cables and extremely phase stable cables for test and measurement applications. Also featured was the 75 Ω calibration kit designed for applications up to 12 GHZ. The kit contains  RPC-N open, short and broadband loads for measurements in N 75 Ω applications.

Spectrum Systementwicklung Microelectronic GmbH has extended the performance of its PCIe based instruments by adding nine new models to its M4i series of digitizers with real-time sampling rates up to 5 GS/s and high bandwidth. Available with one, two or four channels, the cards can replace conventional test instruments (such as digital oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers) whenever measurement speed, flexibility, size or channel density becomes an issue. For applications requiring more than four channels it’s possible to run up to eight M4i cards in one system.

Based on the popular PCIe bus the products are designed to allow fast data transfer at rates up to 3.4 Gb/s. With a fully calibrated front-end for gain adjustment and an array of flexible trigger modes the M4i series can capture complex and rare events. Acquisition modes include memory segmentation with very fast trigger time stamping. The rearm time between triggers can be as low as 80 samples (16 ns @ 5 GS/s) making it possible to capture and time stamp pulses and signal bursts even when the events are extremely close together.

Wainwright Instruments GmbH showcased its UHF/Microwave Band Reject Filters that can be tuned by computer with intuitively usable software or directly by simple LAN Telnet protocol. The passband up to 2.5 or 5.0 GHz resp. makes these filters especially suitable for measuring harmonics in laboratory applications and automated test stations in production lines. The carrier frequency of a signal source is suppressed and the harmonics are allowed to pass. 

Other products include Microwave Highpass Filters with Passband to 26.5 GHz, which suppress the fundamental wave from low power signal sources, but pass the spurious signals generated for measurement purposes up to 26.5 GHz. The series offers filters with cut-off frequencies between 3.5 and 10.0 GHz. The Microwave Diplex Filter is an example of several possible combinations of the company’s Microwave Lowpass Filters with Microwave Highpass Filters. The cutoff frequencies from 1.0 GHz (lowpass) and up to 8.0 GHz (highpass) can be combined. Also Cavity Band Reject Filters with Helical Resonators cover the frequency range from 50 to 500 MHz.

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