Here's the news that caught my attention last week:
Companies and Products
Airbus is selling their European defense electronics unit to KKR, a private equity firm, for €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion). Although the electronics unit is profitable, Airbus is focusing on larger systems such as aircraft, missiles and satellites.
Ampleon and appliance manufacturer Midea announced what they say is the world's first commercial, solid-state microwave oven. The table-top unit contains a 200 W power amplifier using Ampleon LDMOS devices. The oven can be powered with AC or a 24 V battery.
Comtech Xicom Technology received a $1.3 million contract to provide Ka-Band power amplifiers for the ground network of a satellite TV provider.
EDX Wireless and Remcom are integrating Wireless InSite in SignalPro version 8.3. The combination allows wireless network engineers to analyze the 3D features of the environment, such as buildings and terrain.
GigOptix is sampling E-Band transceivers. Four surface-mount SIPs provide transmit and receive functionality for 71 to 76 and 81 to 86 GHz. The transmitter contains two GaAs MMICs with 20 dB of available gain, output IP3 of 29 dBm and output dynamic range control greater than 25 dB. The receiver integrates a GaAs LNA and a SiGe BiCMOS down-converter, with a typical noise figure of 5.5 dB and maximum gain of 76 dB.
GigOptix received a $5 million investment from a Shanghai investment firm, Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co., Ltd. (PDSTI). The purchase of unregistered stock will give PDSTI a 3.8 percent stake in the telecom components supplier. The funds will provide "financial flexibility" and allow GigOptix to pursue "additional strategic growth opportunities," according to a press release issued by both companies.
Globalfoundries added two SiGe process technologies (5PAx and 1K5PAx) to their power amplifier portfolio, bringing the total to four. At 5 GHz, 5PAx increases gain by 2 dB and power-added efficiency by 5 percent compared to the previous generation. 1K5PAx is optimized for integration and improves switch RonCoff by approximately 15 percent compared to the previous generation.
U.S. compound semiconductor foundry GCS and San'an Optoelectronics, China's largest LED manufacturer, signed a letter of intert for San'an to buy GCS for approximately $226 million. Because GCS is an American company, the U.S. will have to approve the deal. Because GCS stock is traded in Taiwan, the government there must also approve. (Thanks to Hervé Brouzes for alerting me to this story.)
Mercury Systems is acquiring three defense businesses from Microsemi: embedded security, RF/microwave and custom microelectronics. Mercury will pay $300 million for the three, whose most recent annual revenue was $100 million, with adjusted EBITDA of $28 million. The purchase will nearly double the size of Mercury's existing RF/microwave segment.
Tektronix expanded their family of real-time spectrum analyzers with a battery-powered field unit (RSA500) and a laboratory version (RSA600). The analyzers cover 9 kHz to 7.5 GHz with 40 MHz acquisition bandwidth. The displayed average noise level (DANL) is -161 dBm/Hz, and the units will handle up to 1 W input signal levels.
WIN Semiconductors is entering the optical market, adding InP epitaxial material and foundry services for lasers and photodiodes.
ZTE received a reprieve from the potentially crippling export restrictions imposed by the U.S. government. The Department of Commerce lifted restrictions on U.S. exports until June 30, possibly longer if ZTE cooperates and corrects all issues. Not surprisingly, the investigation of ZTE's internal documents seems to implicate Huawei in a similar scheme to avoid U.S. export laws.
Markets and Technology
Mobile — The universities of Bristol and Lund achieved a 1.59 Gbps cumulative data rate from a 20 MHz channel at 3.5 GHz using a MIMO architecture with 128 antennas.
We wonder how 5G can develop coherently without standards in place. Nokia's @LarsLagerstrom says the key is to start with the network architecture.
Ericsson's CEO Hans Vestberg shared his view of the mobile world at this year's Mobile World Congress.
IoT and V2X — A real-time demonstration of V2X (vehicle to infrastructure) on the A9 autobahn in Germany achieved under 20 ms latency using an LTE network. That's not the 1 ms desired for 5G; however, it's half the typical latency seen on dense LTE networks in Europe and a fourth of the latency often seen in the U.S., according to Telecom TV.
Privacy vs. Security — The U.S. Justice Department delayed what promised to be a contentious hearing with Apple, after a third party — reported to be Israeli firm Cellebrite — suggested a way to unlock the iPhone used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shooting.
The iPhone case raises an interesting question for the technical community: what would you do if your ethics conflicted with the law? Apple's software engineers might face that question.
China — China released a five-year plan that includes impressive technology development goals for 4G, 5G and fiber/Wi-Fi broadband access.
Milestones — Andy Grove, first employee of Intel, who rose to shape the company and the entire semiconductor industry, died last week. He was 79. Read Intel's memorial.
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