David Vye, MWJ Editor
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David Vye is responsible for Microwave Journal's editorial content, article review and special industry reporting. Prior to joining the Journal, Mr. Vye was a product-marketing manager with Ansoft Corporation, responsible for high frequency circuit/system design tools and technical marketing communications. He previously worked for Raytheon Research Division and Advanced Device Center as a Sr. Design Engineer, responsible for PHEMT, HBT and MESFET characterization and modeling as well as MMIC design and test. David also worked at M/A-COM's Advanced Semiconductor Operations developing automated test systems and active device modeling methods for GaAs FETs. He is a 1984 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, with a concentration in microwave engineering.

A Guided Tour of EDI CON 2013 Expo

February 27, 2013

What can you expect to see if you visit the exhibition at EDI CON 2013 in the Beijing International Convention Center in two weeks (March 12-14)? Exhibitors are preparing to show many of the products that were just unveiled at other global shows such as DesignCon and Mobile World Congress, not to mention some additional products that will be making their debut at this premier event in China.

If you design devices or systems based on high-frequency signals you need very specific tools to develop your products. Depending on where you are in the design cycle, you will need design software and device models to simulate and optimize your device performance before building a prototype. For device models you may need information from a specific foundry – if you are designing a MMIC/RFIC or data from an integrated device manufacturer (IDM) - if you are designing a PCB circuit with surface mounted components (passives and RFICs/MMICs). You may choose to use large signal characterization data from load-pull and you will certainly need to know the electrical, thermal and mechanical properties of your PCB substrate for your simulations.

The exhibitors at EDI CON 2013 represent all these disciplines. The latest information on RF CMOS, GaAs, GaN, SiGe HEMT and HBT technologies are being presented by three leading foundries namely - WIN Semiconductor, Tower/Jazz and OMMIC. IDM’s such as Peregrine and Mini-Circuits; along with IDM representatives from Richardson RFPD, Sanetronic, Secom and others will be on hand to discuss the latest products and device performance from companies such as Freescale Semiconductor, M/A-Com Technology Solutions, Microsemi, Nitronex, TriQuint, Cree, Avago and more.

High power devices such as LDMOS and GaN will be discussed in the conference and in the exhibition hall by these device manufacturers. Visitors can also talk to Auriga Microwave, Focus Microwave and Maury Microwave about device characterization systems such as harmonic active load pull and pulsed large signal VNA systems.

Device models are only part of the challenge for RF designers, as much of the design and performance impacting behavior takes place on the PCB. To understand the PCB (or MMIC/RFIC) behavior, RF engineers must understand the properties of their circuit substrate first. Rogers Corporation is a leading provider of PCB materials for RF, microwave and high-speed digital applications. Engineers visiting EDI CON will want to visit the Roger’s booth to learn about the newest low-loss materials and recent advances in ultra-thin substrates. With this material data in hand, engineers most often turn to some form of electromagnetic simulation software. EDI CON’s exhibition features the leading names in electromagnetic simulation software for RF and high-speed digital design including: Agilent, AWR, ANSYS, CST, Tech-X and GEMs. In addition to their workshop and technical presentations in the conference, these companies will have their application engineers attending the exhibition booths to demo their latest software products and discuss your design needs and challenges. For information on RFIC/MMIC circuit level simulation, attendees should also plan to visit with Cadence, Agilent (ADS), AWR (Microwave Office) and ANSYS (Designer).

These software products not only simulate electrical performance based on physical attributes of the substrate materials and circuit layout, they also can export layout data in various formats for directly manufacturing design prototypes using various manufacturing processes. For rapid prototyping, engineers attending EDI CON will want to visit LPKF for a demo on how to take layout information (such as a DXF file) from EDA software and generate an actual PCB circuit in just minutes.

With a device in hand, whether it is based on PCB or MMIC fabrication, the design engineer will need to test the device performance at high frequency. For passive S-parameter measurements this information gives insight into insertion loss, VSWR, phase matching, gain, etc. Thus, the engineer will need a network analyzer. For high-speed testing, the engineer may need to look at eye diagrams or other metrics. And the first step in testing a device is connecting it to the test equipment. For a look at the latest board to coax adapters, stop by Southwest Microwave to see their full-line of high-performance components. Other cable solutions are available from Insulated Wire (IW), Times Microwave, Mitron and Maury Microwave. For metrology-grade performance, engineers will want to talk to these vendors to understand what factors impact measurement accuracy. Don’t give away hard earned design performance to a poorly functioning cable in the test lab!

EDI CON is featuring the leaders in test equipment development and manufacturing including Agilent, Anritsu, Rohde & Schwarz, National Instruments, CETC 41, Tektronix, Teledyne LeCroy and Advantex LLC. These companies have the VNAs, signal generators, real-time oscilloscopes, signal analyzers necessary for proper device characterization from DC up to millimeter-wave frequencies. For test systems that study near-field radiation, attendees should stop by and check out EMScan and for learning more about over-the-air and drive testing solutions impacting mobile communications and radar studies, attendees should pay a visit to Spirent Communications and Azimuth.

Engineers also need design guides and reference materials to support their efforts.  Artech House, a leader in technical publications for the high-frequency industry will be on-hand with relevant books available to support the electronic design engineer. In addition, EDI CON is proud to host several media partners who also serve the design community with valuable information, forums and white papers.

So please take your time to visit these and all the other vendors at EDI CON 2013. Ask lots of design questions and let the experts help you with your engineering challenges.