Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top Ten mW News Items for 2009

Below are the top ten most read News items on the Microwave Journal Website. These were stand alone news postings from our "Industry News". Other widely read news items were compiled in our "Around the Circuit" feature. Judging from the top-ten list, readers were very interested in the outcome of the M/A-COM acquisition by Cobham (stayed tuned for special coverage on these two companies in February) as well as the acquisition of Ansoft by Ansys. News from test & Measurement companies Agilent and Tektronix made the list as did two news items from TriQuint on their high power GaN transistors.

1. Cobham to Acquire M/A-COM for $425 M

2. Tektronix Adds Waveform Image Processing to Spectrum Analyzers

3. M/A-COM Technology Solutions Formed

4. Ethertronics Delivers Small Ceramic GPS Antennas

5. TriQuint Unveils PowerBand High Power, Wideband RF Transistors

6. M/A-COM Acquisition Strengthens Cobham

7. TriQuint Semiconductor Reveals Gallium Nitride Products

8. ANSYS Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Ansoft Corp.

9. Agilent Technologies Introduces End-to-End DigRF V4 Measurement Solution for Mobile Handset Design

10.Endwave Modules Feature Integrated Digital Micro-controlle

Friday, December 19, 2008

Look Mom, No Batteries - Peregrine & K-State Working Together on Energy Harvesting Radios

Kansas State University engineers are helping Peregrine implement its idea of an energy-harvesting radio. This concept could be used to implement bridge structural integrity monitoring with wireless sensors since changing the batteries on hundreds of sensors on each bridge is not practical. Kansas State is developing the energy harvesting radios for Peregrine to be used in these types of applications.

Peregrine's UltraCMOS process leads itself well to very low power devices and K-State engineers are looking at the design challenges of a radio system. Although the prototype captures and stores light energy with solar cells, these energy-harvesting radios could be powered by a number of different ways, including by electrochemical, mechanical or thermal energy. Some of this research is a spin off of work done for NASA for use on Mars rovers and scouts.

This leads me to another interesting technology that has caused some buzz lately which is using microwaves to power devices. WiTricity promises to power devices and lights via inductive coupling like Tesla first demonstrated many years ago. However, no one has ever been able to find a method to implement it for widespread practical use. But MIT has recently developed new technology that might solve this problem and a couple of companies are trying to bring it to market. Here is one such company's videos that are very well done and demonstrate some of its uses. While I don't see this being very good for lighting purposes in the near future, I think the convenience of charging our wireless devices via this method could take off. You just place your cell phone, iPod or other device on the counter in the vicinity of the charging unit and it will always have enough juice to go when you are ready. Let us know what you think of this new approach and if you think it will ever catch on.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

MWJ top ten most viewed technical articles of 2008

Though a tad early, we thought we would get a jump on sharing our top-ten list of web-published articles for 2008. Scanning through statistics in our web site’s back office gives us a pretty good glimpse of which articles were most read by you. Without accounting for when the article was published (articles published earlier in the year have a definite time advantage), the ten most read technical articles were:

1. Now: Phased-array Radars: Past, Astounding Breakthroughs and Future Trends by E. Brookner was very popular the moment it was posted and continued to be well read through-out the year.
2. New Waves: MTT_S Product Showcase by MWJ Staff is always a popular theme, this year was no exception.
3. Phase Noise: Theory versus Practicality. This article was printed more than any other.
4. Measuring S-parameters: The First 50 Years by D. Vye led the pack in articles most often e-mailed to a colleague
5. IMS 2008: A Peachy Return to the East Coast by P. Hindle was the article most read in the month following its posting.
6. An Enabling New 3D Architecture for Microwave Components and Systems by D. Sherrer, this article was accompanied by an executive interview (David Sherrer of Rohm & Haas) which was the most read online executive interview of 2008.
7. Then: Array Radars: A Survey of Their Potential and Their Limitations (May 1962) was the only retrospective article making the top-ten list, but not a bad result for an article that was first published in May 1962.
8. An Historical Perspective on 50 Years of Frequency Sources
9. A 60 GHz Millimeter-wave CMOS RFIC-on-chip Dipole Antenna by H.R. Chuang, S.W. Kuo, C.C. Lin and L.C. Kuo, which was posted online in January 2007
10. High Harmonic-rejection Matching Filters for Quad-band Power Amplifiers written by Rajanish, P. Onno and N. Jain, and published in May 2006

Articles in the ninth and tenth position were from January 2007 and May 2006, respectively, proving that a good technical article can enjoy a long and prosporous life online.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Sparkling New Microwave Idea for the Holidays

In case you did not see this news item, I just thought I had to share it since it is so appropriate for the holidays (Source: Carnegie Institution for Science):

If you are still deciding on what to give the woman (or microwave engineer) who has everything this holiday season, then researchers in Washington may have solved that last minute gift problem – microwaved diamonds. Members of Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory have used a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method to grow synthetic diamonds for their experiments. Unlike other methods, which mimic the high pressures deep within the earth where natural diamonds are formed, the CVD method produces single-crystal diamonds at low pressure. The resulting diamonds, which can be grown very rapidly, have precisely controlled compositions and comparatively few defects.

The Carnegie team then annealed the diamonds at temperatures up to 2,000° C using a microwave plasma at pressures below atmospheric pressure. The crystals, which are originally yellow-brown if produced at very high growth rates, turned on the size of crystals or the number of crystals, because the method is not limited by the chamber size of a high pressure press. The microwave unit is also significantly less expensive than a large high-pressure apparatus.

Unfortunately, those late holiday shoppers will still have to go to the store rather than the lab for that diamond ring because the high-quality, single crystal diamond made possible by the new process has a wide variety of applications in science and technology rather than for jewelry. These include the use of diamond crystals as anvils in high-pressure research and in optical applications that take advantage of diamond’s exceptional transparency. Among the more exotic future applications of the pink diamonds made in this way is quantum computing, which could use the diamonds’ NV centers for storing quantum information.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cadence releases Accelerated Parallel Simulator for Analog/MS IC Designs

Much of the news concerning Cadence Design these days has not been good, but today’s announcement bucks that run of bad corporate-related news. Today the company announced the availability of an Accelerated Parallel Simulator (APS) for its Virtuoso product. The majority of RFIC designers use the Virtuoso suite for IC circuit design/simulation and in particular its Virtuoso Spectre® Circuit Simulator, which specifically solves large, complex analog and mixed-signal designs across all process nodes. The new simulator adds a breakthrough parallel circuit solver, along with a newly architected engine to give users access to multiprocessing computing platforms.

The result is an accurate circuit simulator that uses models which are identical to the Virtuoso Spectre Circuit Simulator, delivering significantly improved single-thread performance and scalable multi-thread performance. The Virtuoso Accelerated Parallel Simulator improves convergence and capacity for designs with hundreds of thousands of transistors, reducing design and verification time in most cases from weeks to hours. Company spokesmen boosted 20.6 times performance boost over traditional SPICE simulators, which enabled users to verify and detect multiple design issues.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

4G update 12/10/2009

The path to 4G is a tricky one as Sprint Nextel must figure out how to move its CDMA-based wireless business and customers to the 4G network envisioned by Clear, Sprint’s 51%-owned WiMAX joint venture with Clearwire and partners. The challenge is to strike the right balance between Sprint's immediate opportunities which remain with CDMA and the key growth areas for US wireless services that are mobile broadband (or 4G). WiMAX appears to have strong medium term potential and is worthy of Sprint's continued support but the network will need full commitment and time (a few years at least) to establish its brand with consumers. The issue for Sprint (and users) is the lack of a 4G migration path for users of the CDMA-based wireless. The solution is to enter into an MVNO deal with its own joint venture, offering dual-mode CDMA/WiMAX devices under the logo 'Sprint 4G'.

The first dual-mode modems could appear with the new year, enabling Sprint to begin marketing its mobile broadband services to its CDMA base early, before widespread WiMAX coverage and lack of migration path burns their customers. This will let Sprint establish its advanced credentials ahead of any LTE activities from competitors AT&T and Verizon. While a Sprint 4G brand, based on dual-mode will likely delay the new Clear offering, the company will benefit from serving the long term needs of its customers better. And for us folks who make a living off developing and manufacturing components for dual-mode WiMAX/CDMA radios, the concept also makes a lot of sense.

Monday, December 8, 2008

This news arrived today, Monday December 8th. Zensys (http://www.zen-sys.com/) and Nokia today announced the availability of the Z-Wave-enabled Nokia Home Control Center. Powered by Z-Wave technology, the device is compatible with the entire Z-Wave ecosystem of more than 300 home control products. Nokia is making a major step into the home automation and control market, which is expected to grow to $10 billion in the next two years.

Z-wave background
Z-Wave is a low-power wireless technology designed specifically for remote control applications. Z-Wave transforms any stand-alone device into an intelligent network node that can be controlled and monitored wirelessly. Unlike high-bandwidth standards such as IEEE 802.11-based systems that are designed for high-speed data, the Z-Wave RF system is optimized for low-overhead commands such as on-off and raise-lower (as in volume control). Applications for Z-Wave intelligence include home entertainment systems, lighting and appliance control, HVAC systems, security and access control, meter reading and digital home health care.
Z-Wave is a mesh networking technology where each node or device on the network is capable of sending and receiving control commands through walls or floors and around household obstacles or radio dead spots that might occur in the home. Z-Wave devices can work singly or in groups, and can be programmed into scenes or events that trigger multiple devices, either automatically or via remote control.



Because Z-Wave operates apart from the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11 based wireless systems, it is largely impervious to interference from common household wireless electronics, such as Wi-Fi routers, cordless telephones and Bluetooth devices that work in the same frequency range. This freedom from household interference allows for a standardized low-bandwidth control medium that can be reliable alongside common wireless devices.
As a result of its low power consumption and low cost of manufacture, Z-Wave is easily embedded in consumer electronics products, including battery operated devices such as remote controls, smoke alarms and security sensors. Z-Wave is currently supported by over 200 manufacturers worldwide and appears in a broad range of consumer products in the U.S. and Europe.

Zensys
Zensys offers the Z-Wave® protocol , a wireless RF-based communications technology designed for control and status reading applications in residential and light commercial environments. Z-Wave delivers reliable wireless networking at a fraction of the cost of other similar technologies, by focusing on narrow bandwidth applications and substituting costly hardware with innovative software solutions.
One clear benefit of electronic consumer devices that can be made to network together cheaply is that they can avoid the cost of building device to device networking into the house or business infrastructure itself. Given the housing slump, it is advantageous to offer a technology that is not to tied into that economy.

Defected Ground Structures

We receive several technical articles each month about circuits that utilize Defected Ground Structures (DGS) to improve performance. A DGS is where the ground plane metal is purposely modified with a certain geometry (and positioning of that geometry) to enhance performance. They can be used in various circuits with antennas, filters, delay lines, phase shifters, etc. to improve performance such as modifying the band pass/reject characteristics for filters or modifying the slow wave effect for delay lines or phase shifters.

While DGS may improve performance, these circuits are highly susceptible to the effects of the packaging since they radiate. Any physical structure near the DGS (within the EM field) will probably affect their performance. Therefore publishing results which show improved performance but do not include the adverse (and real-world) effects introduced by packaging would mislead our readers, so we have made it a policy not to publish papers on DGS without measured results which include these effects.

Because we stress the importance of practical applications, we want to make sure the circuit performance presented in an article reflects how it would perform if packaged and used in an application. I believe this is now the policy of the IEEE also for technical publications and we have adopted it too. So I wanted to state this policy here and get any feedback we can from design engineers and others. Let us know what you think by posting a comment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

RF/microwave in Cars


The Auto show is coming to Boston this week, so I am excited to make my annual visit to this event. We get a group together each year and spend several hours salivating over the new cars (especially the exotics) and then have a nice Italian dinner in the north end. Every year I look for more RF and microwave products in cars but hope the severe down turn in the industry does not effect what we will see too much (I am not counting on getting any giveaways this year).

RFID is available on the new Ford F150 as an optional package to tag your important tools (or other items) and it will tell you if you are missing anything before you leave the job site. I hope to see this in action at the show.

While long range radar sensors have been in the Mercedes for years functioning as auto cruise control (77 GHz), I think 2009 will be the year that short range sensors (24 GHz) are integrated into the bumpers for several safety and assist functions such as blind spot detection, parking assist, collision warning, etc. (For more information, see our Dec 2007 article on auto sensors). It will be interesting to see how radar sensors do against laser and ultrasonic sensors.

There is also a lot of buzz lately about mobile TV being developed for automobiles so it will be fun to see if there is any news on this front. The integration of voice, data and GPS mapping is progressing quickly and some companies offer real time traffic information and automatic routing via GPS. This will lead us toward what has been talked about for years in intelligent traffic control systems.

My favorite option on my car now is the Bluetooth hands-free phone system and it will be interesting to see what other applications can use Bluetooth technology. I love the Microsoft Sync system currently available in some Ford models but unfortunately, bought another brand. It should be an interesting future for wireless in automobiles but certainly tempered by the economic woes of the industry.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Microwave Journal in China



At this past year's IMS show in Atlanta and EumW in Amsterdam, the Microwave Journal booth displayed the beta-version of our pending Microwave Journal China Website. China has for a number of years been a big manufacturing center of microwave hardware and over the past few years has shifted into design work itself. With the large number of engineers graduating in China focused on Microwave technology, we feel the timing is right for Microwave Journal to report on the news, product information and events coming out of China and to provide this vast community of new microwave engineers with our technical content in a chinese-language format.

To understand our new targeted audience better, MWJ publisher Carl Sheffres and I traveled to Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou last week. We met with a number of company executives, conference organizers, manufacturer representatives (representing China, US and European-based products) and engineering managers. The feedback was unanimous. China is ready for a dedicated source of information about our industry - in Chinese - which targets the growing number of new and experienced RF/microwave engineers.

Our first stop was the IME 2008/EMC 2008 show in Shanghai, where we saw familiar faces (Agilent Technologies, Rohde & Schwarz, AR Worldwide, Valpey Fisher, Gore, LPKF, Emerson & Cummings and Yantel) as well as many new faces.



Booth traffic was very heavy at times as engineers lined up to fill out subscription cards and take a complimentary copy of our October issue (English version). Of course, we were very pleased to hear that a number of show attendees considered the Journal to be "very famous".



Our immediate goal will be to put the finishing touches on the new Microwave Journal China web site in time for its January launch date, work with the partners we had identified to expand our audience and line up authors for this new venture. All in all, it is a very exciting time for us at the Journal as we begin this new adventure. Have ideas for our Chinese web site, add them to this blog or send me an e-mail at dvye@mwjournal.com.

Changing of the Guard- Cell Phone Leaders

There have been several market research reports out over the last month that show what I think is a permanent shift in cell phone leaders. Samsung took over as leading mobile phone shipments in the US market (Apple moved up to #6). RIM seems to be holding strong and introducing some nice products. It seems like the global market leaders of Nokia and Motorola are loosing some of their grip on some of the market. The iPhone also took over as the best selling phone which had been held for a couple of years by the outdated Razor. The smart phones are really starting to take over as they become affordable and Apple, RIM, Samsung and even LG seem to be playing the game better than the traditional leaders (at least in the US).

What do you think? How will the G1 and Android do competing against these phones??

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Antenna Measurement Techniques Association (AMTA) Conference


I attended the AMTA Conference this week in Boston at the Park Plaza hotel including the keynote speech by Dr. Eric D. Evans (Director of MIT Lincoln Labs) about radar measurement activities within their organization. I was surprised at the wide array of RF/microwave projects they are working on. He said they are concentrating on key technology enablers such as digital sensors, portable software, open system architectures, sensor/network sidecars and online processors. He said they are still innovating in hardware but spend more effort these days on software. They use rapid proto-typing (3 months from inception to hardware) and typically transfer the technology to industry for production.

There were also a few talks about the European Antenna Network - how they are structured to provide support for antenna research and what projects are underway. A very interesting and comprehensive set of programs for Europe and many of them have global participation.


The exhibits included most of the key players like ETS-Lingren, Agilent, CST, Satimo/Orbit RF, MI, Rohde & Schwarz, etc. One of the most interesting products on display was the helicoidal scanning for elongated antennas from MI Technologies which will greatly speeds up the measurement process (see image).
More to come in my conference wrap up on the Microwave Journal web site.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Microwave Technologies for Medical Applications

Microwave technology currently has relatively limited uses in medical applications such as MRI and Telemetry systems with RFID starting to find some uses, but I can think of many others. However, there seems to be a resurgence in some new medical research activities that could change that. Our Dec. issue feature story will describe research being done by Duke University to use microwaves to mildly heat tumors so they respond better to other treatments. New modeling software has enabled better results to eliminate hot spots so that this technique shows promise now.

And now UMass has just released news that they are working on a portable breast cancer screening system that uses low power microwaves for imaging. The idea is to bring modern breast cancer screening to Third World countries without the danger, high cost and access problems of X-ray based machines. This new technique would take advantage of the fact that normal breast tissue and cancer cells have different electrical properties. These differences can be identified and measured using an array of tiny transmitters and external sensors embedded in the walls of a cylinder that fits comfortably around the breast.

It should be interesting to follow these technologies as the develop. Let us know if you can come up with other contributions of microwave technology to the medical field.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Tunable Capacitor Technology for Mobile-TV


Speaking of mobile-TV (see David's entry below), Peregrine Semiconductor has developed a new digitally tunable capacitor (DTC) technology using their UltraCMOS process. Mobile-TV antennas must be able to receive signals efficiently over the frequency range of 470 to 862 MHz, so using a traditional passive internal antenna can result in a VSWR of 6:1 across the band causing reduced sensitivity. But using a DTC to change the antenna match across the band can maintain a VSWR of better than 2:1. In addition, this DTC technology can withstand the GSM transmitted power levels without affecting the mobile-TV signal integrity.

The initial design is for 5 bits of resolution or 32 tuning states and a tuning ratio of close to 5:1 with a Q factor of 40. Because it is designed using the UltraCMOS process, there is flexibility to scale the power handling capability, integrate digital and analog functions as well as other RF active/passive circuitry. This gives very good flexibility and new circuits can be designed quickly to get to market ahead of the competition.

I see several new and exciting tunable technologies coming in the near future and will share them as they are released. Microwave Journal has an exclusive first look into the Peregrine technology in our Nov issue.

A Chief Technology Officer for the new Administration

This morning was my first time hearing about President-elect Obama's plan to create a position of chief technology officer within his administration, an idea that was actually floated one year ago by Obama - the candidate. The CTO's mandate would be to implement various technologies to support more transparent govenment including open meetings, live webcasts of those meetings, and use blogging software, wikis and open comments to communicate policies with Americans.

Second, Obama has several other policies in this area that should benefit the engineering community as a whole . The president-elect is calling for more aggressive government support of broadband access. Specifically, he will seek subsidies for phone carriers offering both regular phone service and Internet broadband to rural areas. To date, carriers offering merely phone service have been able to claim subsidies from the so-called Universal Service Fund, giving them little incentive to roll out out broadband. Currently the United States is 14th in the world with regard to broadband internet access. Such a roll-out would improve rural internet access and provide a welcome economic boost to microwave component manfacturers.

Obama’s is also calling for a review of the decision by the Federal Communications Commission to open the wireless spectrum for competition. Specifically, Obama is strongly considering advocating that spectrum on the 700 MHz band be opened so that third parties can lease it on a wholesale basis. This will ensure winners of a pending auction for the spectrum don’t just sit on the spectrum and not use it, a move designed to avoid other entrants from competing with them. During the campaign, Obama appeared ready to support the right of service providers to interconnect with a licensee’s wireless network. Google is expected to bid on the wireless spectrum.

Innovations like Maplight.org and Sunlightfoundation.com are building new tools to monitor government — to track influence, identify corruption, etc. These tools have been hampered by hard to access government data. Obama wants to make the raw data available: “So think about all the value that gets added to the free weather data given away by the government. This is the same idea in the context of data to make government more transparent, and less corrupt.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

TV-enabled handsets. Are you ready for some football?



Last night (November 6) for the first time ever, a National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns vs. the Denver Broncos was broadcasted on Sprint mobile phones as part of the wireless company's exclusive partnership with the league. That partnership deal is valued at about $500 million over five years.

Sprint will phone-cast eight games that are televised solely on the NFL Network, the league's cable channel. In addition, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile unit has an exclusive sponsorship deal with the National Basketball Association.

The increasing availability of mobile handsets capable of receiving free-to-air analog and digital terrestrial TV signals will adversely impact the prospects for dedicated mobile broadcast TV networks. According to a new report from Juniper Research, more than 330 million mobile users worldwide will own broadcast TV-enabled handsets by 2013, yet less than 14% will opt for mobile pay TV services. Although mobile broadcast TV is expected to generate global annual end-user revenues of $2.7 billion by 2013, this level is markedly lower than previously forecast.

Meanwhile, Telegent Systems, the company that makes television mobile with its high-performance single-chip mobile TV solutions, together with Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment Co., the leading original equipment manufacturer of mobile handsets in China, announced this week that Tianyu is increasing the number of handset designs leveraging mobile TV technology from Telegent to drive growth into the Southeast Asia market and capitalize on the popularity of analog TV phones in this region. Tianyu has also integrated Telegent's technology into the world's first hybrid CMMB and analog TV handset targeted at the domestic China market.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Do Engineers Make Good Presidents?

According to WikiAnswers.com, two US Presidents had university degrees as engineers. They were Hebert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. Herbert Hoover, the United States 31st President, studied mining engineering at Stanford University, graduating in 1895. Jimmy Carter, the 39th U.S. President , attended Georgia Tech and the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1946. Carter served in the Navy for 10 years as an engineer working with nuclear-powered submarines.

Hoover – a republican, deeply believed in the Efficiency Movement (a major component of the Progressive Era), arguing that a technical solution existed for every social and economic problem. In the first year of his presidency (1929). Hoover tried to combat the Depression with volunteer efforts and government action, none of which produced economic recovery during his term. The consensus among historians is that Hoover's defeat in the 1932 election was caused primarily by failure to end the downward spiral into deep Depression.



Carter – a democrat, was elected after the Nixon Watergate scandal, perhaps signaling Americans desire for an “honest” politician. Reflecting his engineering background, Carter created two new cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education and established a national energy policy. In general, Carter’s energy conservation efforts were not well-received by the American public. The final year of his presidential tenure was marked by several major crises, including the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Iran and holding of hostages by Iranian students, a failed rescue attempt of the hostages, serious fuel shortages, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. By 1980, Carter's disapproval ratings were significantly higher than his approval


Both engineers-turned president left office with poor approval ratings and neither served more than one term. While this is true for other presidents, we have yet to prove that an engineer can make a great president. This year it is not even a choice. So whoever does win let’s all hope he is good for engineers and the scientific community as a whole. Hopefully the next administration will hear our concerns to preserve a vibrant commercial and military microwave industry, the need for training our next generation of engineers and all else that impacts our business. But today, make sure you get out and vote. Too many people have sacrificed for us to have this right, it is not to be wasted.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Highs and Lows of EuMW 2008


Managing Editor, Keith Moore rides the train back to Schiphol Airport

I imagine most US attendees to EuMW 08 left on Friday unless they were going sightseeing after the show. The MWJ crew left early Friday morning, while several Horizon House staff members stayed behind to address lingering show duties. Thursday night was a last chance to take in this wonderful host city and sample some of its world cuisine. After eating Indonesian, traditional Dutch, and Thai earlier in the week, we settled on one of the many Argentenia restaurants downtown for our final supper in Amsterdam. I must admit it was quite a good steak.


Hey - look its a horsey. Hmmm - Ever wonder what kind of steaks they were serving at the El Rancho?

Some highlights from the Show:

I saw some very impressive demos from the T&M sector: Agilent with their PNA-X and multiple demos (I like the new IMD measurement system), Anritsu's medium priced fast-switching frequency synthesizer, R&S's mm-wave converter bringing their VNA up to 325 GHz, Keithley's SignalMeister and Tektronix's SignalVu. Lots of new RFIC/MMIC devices from Integrated Device Manufacturer's such as Skyworks, Analog Devices, Mimix, TriQuint, Hittite, and others. Time spent talking to HVVi Semiconductor about their new high voltage power devices, David Hall at National Instrument's always has an interesting demo (multi-protocol test system), meeting Joe Thomas, VP at M/A-Com Technology Solutions. All the major and minor EDA vendors were on hand as were all the major foundries (TriQuint, Win, Ommic, UMS).

The lows - rainy, cold weather, dinner at the "Vermont" restaurant and the rather loud public announcement system. Other than that, I can't really complain.

Where can we get a hot bowl of Cream of Mushroom soup in this town?

The Online Show will wrap-up with our final word on the exhibition and conference as well as product wrap-up and pick of the papers.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday at EuMW08


Suds with the boys on Wednesday Night

Its time to cram - the last day of the exhibition was the usual frantic start as exhibitors, delegates and the press were all busy trying to squeeze in as many last minute appointments as possible. By the end of the day, the cumulative impact of talking and listening, demoing, brainstorming, and answering questions had left most attendees with depleted energy reserves. Certainly by 4:30, as the work crews arrived to tear down the exhibition stands and pull up the carpet, I was ready to take my notes from three days of meetings and pack it up.
Richard Mumford and I have identified many excellent editorial opportunities for the new year and I will need the plane ride home just to organize all the proposed articles, webinars, white papers and special projects onto the 2009 editorial calendar. I am very excited with the way next year is shaping up for editorial and this show has been a big contributor, thanks to both the conference and the exhibitors. I will be writing a show wrap-up to conclude our live coverage of EuMW 2008.

I hope many of you have had the chance to visit our Online Show Daily (OSD) coverage (http://www.mwjournal.com/2008/EUMW/) - the exhibitor perspectives, chairmen messages, the blogs, podcasts, videos (as part of the Virtual Trade Stands) and special articles. The show site will be updated with several remaining new posts through the early part of next week after which we will keep the site available for our readers to use as a reference. The Journal staff at the show and back in our Norwood offices worked very hard to bring you this show coverage and we would like to hear back from you. Let us know what you liked and what you might like different.
Finally, I'd like to thank our OSD sponsors - RFMD, Rohde & Schwarz and TriQuint Semiconductor. Signing off from Amsterdam , this is David Vye. Safe travels home.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday at EuMW08



The EuMW Welcome Reception, sponsored by Agilent Technologies was held Tuesday night immediately following the first day of the exhibition. This event provided an opportunity for both conference attendees and exhibitors to mingle over drinks and hors d’oeuvre, before several speeches from the conference chair and a message from the event sponsor discussing new show related initiatives. MWJ European Editor, Richard Mumford was on hand for the entire event and files his report in the daily news update (http://www.mwjournal.com/News/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_6733 ).




Richard Mumford writing up his coverage of the Evening Reception.




The MWJ Online Show Daily War Room. Managing Editor Keith Moore files the days press releases and Web Editor, Sam Bookman uploads the day's multi-media content while Account Manager, Mike Hallman provides his usual helpful input.

Yesterday was a busy one for the MWJ staff on both sides of the Atlantic as we rushed to upload the videos shot on Tuesday for the Virtual Trade Stands(http://www.mwjournal.com/2008/EuMW/VTB/) and press releases. We have many photos from the conference and exhibition to post in the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

Quick run-down of my day – met with CST, ParkerVision, Focus Microwave, Times Microwave, Thunderline-Z, TriQuint Semiconductor (at their free “GaAs Class” workshop), and Ansoft. While Tuesday seemed to be a moderate day for floor traffic, the vendors I met were gleaming over the heavier traffic on Wednesday. It is unusual to see the greater traffic on day two, but the back-to-back plenary sessions midday Tuesday may explain for the lower numbers on the first day. Checking in with registration Wednesday morning, I am told that over 3,500 people have registered for the event so far (approximately 2,300 in advance and over 1,200 onsite). Of those registered, over 1,500 were in attendance for the conference and exhibition, while 2,000 attendees were here just for the exhibition.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Video Interviews Are Up on our EuMW Virtual Trade Stands!


The MWJ editors conducted 7 video interviews yesterday at EuMW and they are now posted on each company's Virtual Trade Stand which are part of our Online Show Daily web site dedicated to EuMW coverage. The companies participating with videos are Anritsu, AWR, CST, Keithley, M/A-COM, Rohde & Schwarz and Triquint. Tune in to see the unique offerings of these companies on display at EuMW.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

EuMW08 Day 1


Daniel Ong and Brian Battaglia of HVVi Semiconductor
stop by as we are setting up the MWJ Stand at EuMW 2008
on Monday afternoon.


The rain is back and so are the attendees as the first day of the EuMW gets underway. Traffic on the floor was heavy throughout most of the day, especially by mid-afternoon. Richard Mumford and I started our day with a local camera crew, conducting "in-stand" interviews with representatives from companies participating with our Virtual Trade Stands on the MWJ Online Show Daily Site.


Richard took the bulk of European-based companies (Rohde & Schwarz, CST) as well as Keithley, while I met with M/A-Com Technology Solutions (the new commercial business sector of M/A-Com Cobham); AWR Corp.; Triquint Semiconductor and Anritsu.

The video team will be working through the night editing the video so that we can post these interviews by the start of business on Wednesday. Please check in to see what these companies are saying about their latest technologies and impressions of EuMW.

Lots of presence from test and measurement vendors, simulation software providers, foundries, and component manufacturers. I'm hearing lots of buzz over infrastructure (backhaul), defense, millimeter-wave opportunities, the need for speed in test & measurement, cost-conscious solutions, .... did I mention millimeter-waves (Agilent was showing off its 500GHz VNA among a number of exciting test solutions).

National Instruments had a very interesting demo of its RF Multi-protocol Test System, Auriga is here with its active device characterization system - sharing a stand with a harmonic load-pull measurement system from Focus Microwave and at the Microave Journal stand we are previewing the upcoming Microwave Journal China site (sorry - you have to be here to see it) and giving away "wicked cool" MWJ Tee-Shirts.

We have lots of companies to visit tomorrow, so stay tuned for our next update.

EuMW Update


As David blogged earlier, EuMW is well underway and we hope you have a chance to attend this year. To keep up with all of the action at the conference and exhibition, we have our Online Show Daily so even if you are not there, you can see what is going on. In addition to the conference messages, exhibitor perspectives, news, product releases and virtual trade booths, we also have 3 audio casts covering the conference events, history of EuMW and what to see and do in Amsterdam.

Today we video taped some exhibitor interviews to see what is new and hot on the show floor. These will be posted tomorrow in the virtual trade booths so check back then to see them. We like to post things quickly or even in real time so you get up to date information.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Dinner with Carl


MWJ Publisher Carl Sheffres goes international
at the NYC Pizza Parlor in Amsterdam

All in all, its nice to see the sun today (between sessions) after a dismal, rainy Sunday in Amsterdam. Sightseeing was a rather damp experience for us Microwave Journal staffers who braved the wet weather and severe jet-lag in order to sample the local culture and cuisine. Yes, we went to the Van Gogh and Rijk Museums as well as the Melkweg, but it was the Irish bars that provided the comforting stew and suds.

It is now a busy Monday morning as European Microwave Week 2008 delegates register for the conferences and workers assemble the exhibition space. By 8:30 when the first sessions of the day began most attendees were already in one of the many sessions in progress. The day started with a healthy mix of microwave and millimeter-wave MMIC (GaAs) and Silicon IC talks from EuMIC and wireless transceiver presentations from EuWiT.

The EuMIC Plenary Opening got underway just before 11:00 during which four seperate EuWiT sessions took place. Meanwhile, three all day measurement-based sessions (EuMC and EuMC/EuMIC) were held on power amplifier modeling and linearization; advances in modeling low and high power devices; and determining/dealing with errors in Mw measurements. The EuWiT plenary is scheduled for the afternoon while a number of EuMIC sessions will take place.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Week of October 20th: MWJ EuMW08 Coverage



Our first week of EuMW 2008 pre-show coverage is wrapping up and a number of the MWJ staff are on their way to Amsterdam to get ready for the big conference and exhibition. I will head out Saturday night in order to catch one day of sight-seeing before heading over to the RAI (venue site) to help set up our media center and MWJ booth. This year our booth will be spotlighting the latest updates to our Microwave Journal China Web site. This is a pre-view to the site which will be officially launched in the new year. If you get a chance, stop by for a look and to register onto the web site and to receive our MWJChina newsletter.


Our EuMW08 online show daily has begun streaming news from exhibiting vendors. We have had announcements from RemCom (new software release); Emerson Network Power (four new product lines launched); Acceleware, Z-Communications, Quartzlock and more. Many other announcements are waiting in the pipeline (under embargo until next week), so be sure to check in daily for the latest updates. (http://www.mwjournal.com/News/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_6675)


We have also begun populating the sight with short essays from exhibitors on what they hope to get out of the show. Most exhibitors are looking forward to showing off their latest products and the opportunity for face-to-face meetings with potential customers. Take a preview of what these companies have to offer in our Exhibitor Perspectives (http://www.mwjournal.com/News/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_6676)

or

visit our Virtual Trade Stands (http://www.mwjournal.com/2008/EuMW/VTB/).
for advanced product information and news from these participating vendors.
On Tuesday, Richard Mumford (MWJ European Editor) and I will be interviewing representatives from Anritsu, M/A-Com, Keithley, AWR, Triquint, and Rohde & Schwarz. Be sure to check out the video of these interviews next Wednesday. Till then - safe travels and see you in Amsterdam.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

EuMW Exhibitor Workshops

EuMW 2008 offers attendees the opportunity to attend workshops and seminars sponsored (and presented) by participating exhibitors. Apart from the product demos available on the exhibition show floor or the technical conference, these workshops give engineers a chance to hear directly from commercial vendors about the latest solutions to today's engineering challenges.

The companies offering workshops this year all belong to the test and measurement equipment manufacturer or simulation software provider sectors. These are two areas that greatly influence design and where product complexity makes ongoing training/education somewhat of a necessity. Among the workshop sponsors, companies include: Agilent Technologies, Ansoft, AWR, IMST, Keithley, and Rohde & Schwarz.

Details on the various workshops being offered are available on the European Microwave Week 2008 web site at http://www.eumweek.com/ExhibitorWorkshops.asp?id=e

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AOC International Symposium & Conference


I am here at the 45th AOC International Conference in Reno, NV and the attendance is very strong. There are courses and sessions Sun - Fri along with special classified sessions on Thurs. The exhibition runs Mon - Wed and has about 90 companies including the big players like Raytheon, BAe, Lockheed, NGC, Boeing, ITT, etc. The opening session featured keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Craig Koziol, USAF, Commander JIOWC.

I attended the exhibition yesterday and got to see lots of old friends. Then I made my way over to the ITT Roost party which was a big hit. It seemed like everyone here attended and enjoyed a nice evening of networking with great food, drink and entertainment. See the photo of a group of component suppliers enjoying the evening next to us.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Comsol Conference Brings Multiphysics into Focus


Last Friday (October 10th ) I had the pleasure of attending the COMSOL Conference 2008 Boston at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. This venue is very close to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) where MTT-S IMS 2009 will be held, so it gave me an opportunity to preview this up and coming section of Boston down by the waterfront while catching up with the engineers and scientists using this advanced software.

Comsol puts on a very impressive workshop each year with a crowd of engineers, physicists, chemists, students and scientists numbering in the hundreds. With Multiphysics software, cross-over disciplines are a guarantee. Before joining the press luncheon/briefing, I sat down with several attendees enjoying their company provided lunch and we talked about their impressions of this two day event. I spoke with scientists in earth sciences, biophysics, aeronautics, and microwave design. The presentations are of the highest technical caliber and represent substantial research. Some of these talks included:

· Capacitance Computation of Multilayered and Multiconductor Interconnects Using Finite Element Method
· Modeling Carbon Nanotube FET Physics
· Gate Control of Single-Electron Spins in GaAs/AlGaAs Semiconductor Quantum DotCoupled Electromagnetics- Multiphase Porous Media Model for Microwave Combination Heating


It was enlightening to share perspectives on a wide-range of engineering challenges outside of our field. Exposure to different disciplines is among the best ways to broaden your arsenal for creatively solving an engineering problem. I encourage our readers to do so anytime the opportunity arises. The nature of Comsol’s Multiphysics software also provides a lot of common ground between the RF component designer and the engineer working on problems like -structural mechanics of cooling catheters. Our common ground is a need for a user-friendly CAD model interface; adaptive, fast and accurate meshing; and state-of-the-art visualization and report generation. At the press luncheon, I learned how Comsol has been addressing these needs.

Multiphysics® 3.5 has expanded the software’s interoperability with third-party CAD/CAM/CAE applications, providing new Parasolid® file format support and a new bidirectional Autodesk Inventor® interface. Parasolid improves file import efficiency by eliminating the conversion of objects to COMSOL geometry. It enhances productivity by giving users the ability to repair or defeature individual parts in an assembly easily and quickly. Parasolid support saves substantial time when meshing by enabling you to mesh on the Parasolid geometry directly. Additionally, the CAD Import Module is now also available on the Macintosh.

Like its SolidWorks® counterpart, Autodesk Inventor maintains two-way associativity between Inventor and COMSOL so that any changes made in a COMSOL or Autodesk Inventor session propagate across both solutions automatically. The Inventor and SolidWorks bidirectional interfaces, when used with the CAD Import Module, now support geometric parametric sweeps to automatically compute solutions for different geometric shapes. This new functionality lets the engineer wrap any parametric sweeps around any solver, including time-dependent, stationary, or eigenvalue solvers. Parametric sweeps can be run on distributed-memory systems such as Linux and Windows Compute clusters.

Version 3.5 also offers new solvers, coding, and usability enhancements, as well as a many new functionalities, application modes, and material models and properties in COMSOL’s suite of discipline-specific modules boost efficiency and productivity. Solving is substantially faster for time-dependent structural mechanics, electromagnetic, acoustics, and fluid-flow simulations using a new solver, cutting memory usage by as much as 50 percent for common dynamic multiphysics simulations, such as Joule heating, with the new time-dependent segregated solver. This solver also offers new flexible settings that make setting up problems with various multiphysics couplings easier and faster. As electronics shrink in size and grow more complex, designers will need to consider thermal and mechanical considerations ion addition to electrical performance. This is the realm of Multiphysics simulation.

Specific to the Microwave field, Multiphysics® 3.5 offers two specialized modules, which also offers new capability in this latest release. The RF Module 3.5 introduces new circuit ports for simulating the connection of a transmission line or an antenna and an external circuit. Adaptive meshing gives a higher accuracy of extracted S-parameters, which can be used for accurate system modeling. ECAD import shortens the path from circuit board layout to 3D geometry. Time domain simulations are up to 4 times faster using the new time-dependent solver.
For performing thermal analysis, the Heat Transfer Module 3.5 greatly speeds up non-isothermal flow and convective heat transfer simulations as well as provides better stabilization for modeling free convection and heat transfer in turbulent flows. Simulations of heat and flow in electronic cooling, free convection, and general thermal management applications are now up to 8 times faster, while memory requirements for thermal stresses are down 25 percent. In heat conduction applications, new functionality runs simulations of unbounded domains through the infinite elements technique.

MEMS have shown great promise as a technology that can be used for microwave applications. So the MEMS module is of potential interest to our field. The MEMS Module 3.5 features new two-phase flow application modes tuned for multiphysics couplings, which are enhanced with new surface tension data from the Liquids and Gases material properties library. Electro-thermomechanical simulations are now easy to set up with the new predefined multiphysics coupling. Piezo-electric devices and MEMS in general can be integrated in SPICE circuit simulations. You can also include structural damping, dielectric, and coupling losses in the enhanced piezoelectric simulation environment. Viscoelastic material models and large deformations are also incorporated into this release. The new ECAD import greatly facilitates the generation of 3D geometries from mask layouts.

So it was another successful event for Comsol and I recommend readers to check out the material on their website (http://www.comsol.com/conference2008/usa/presentation/#9).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cobham Forms M/A-COM Technology Solutions (MTS) Business

Well, I have to write about my old company M/A-COM who was officially taken into the Cobham family at the end of last month. The defense portion will stay with Cobham, the automotive products were sold to Autoliv and the commercial portion has now formed M/A-COM Technology Solutions within Cobham and is probably going to be sold or spun off as a separate company. The land mobile radio group will remain part of Tyco Electronics so the company was essentially split up into 4 pieces.

The M/A-COM brand (Microwave Associates in the early years) has over 55 years of experience in the microwave industry and has been a major player from the beginning. Now it will be a little difficult to keep up with all of the pieces but in the long run the defense portion should benefit from being part of the Cobham group and the commercial group should have the freedom to pursue more aggressive strategies. Only time will tell.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not all Business news is bad.

Feeling down about recent news? The following items should cheer you up or at least make you consider life goes on. While financial news continued to dominate the headlines it was nice to see the majority of press releases from companies in the RF/microwave space tended back to the tangibles – good old (well, actually new) fashioned hardware! Plenty of new products with impressive performance and less complexity than a credit default swap (whatever that is). Not to mention new business wins and other impressive milestones met.

Skyworks announced that the company had roughly doubled its year-over-year Smart Phone FEM shipments since 2004, with over 40 million units sold in fiscal 2008 alone. The company displayed bullishness that seems to be in short supply these days in the business world when announcing their success riding the steep growth trajectory of the rapidly emerging Smart Phone segment through their Intera™ portfolio of innovative front-end modules (FEM).

Triquint Semiconductor also had good news to crow about when they announced that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded TriQuint a 21-month, $4.5 M contract to advance manufacturing methods used to produce high power, high frequency gallium arsenide (GaAs) amplifiers. TriQuint was chosen based on its experience developing high performance, high reliability amplifiers for a wide range of defense and aerospace applications.

NEC Corp. has reported that shipments of its ultra-compact microwave communications system, PASOLINK, have surpassed more than 1 million total units. The 200,000 shipments figure was reached in 2004, following approximately 20 years of availability, and the system soon eclipsed 500,000 total units in February 2007. Most recently, shipments to mobile telephone carriers in such markets as Asia and the Middle East, where rapid economic expansion has taken place, have contributed significantly to PASOLINK breaking through the 1 million unit mark.

Internationally, Ericsson has signed a sole-supplier agreement with Digicel Group for the nationwide deployment of a GSM/EDGE network in Panama. Motorola has signed a multi-year WiMAX contract with wi-tribe Pakistan limited, a joint venture between Qatar Telecom (Qtel) and Saudi Arabia’s A.A. Turki Group of Companies (ATCO). The company will supply infrastructure and a comprehensive services package that will enable cost-effective, wireless broadband services for wi-tribe’s customers. Via this system wi-tribe aims to deliver instant wireless broadband connectivity from North Africa across the Middle East and up to Asia. And a little closer to home, EADS Defence & Security has announced a major expansion plan to make PlantCML in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, its North American R&D and top-level technological support centre for the large-scale SN P25 public safety and security digital communications systems market. SN P25 systems permit the seamless integration of multiple first responder services into one shared communications and data-sharing secure network.

Product news included the announcement that Parker Hannifin Corp., a leader in motion and control technologies, has intorduced a new multi-planar EMI shielding gasket in convenient strip form. SOFT-SHIELD® 4850 provides shielding for consumer and commercial electronics, telecom and information technology applications such as backplanes, I/O panels, and access panel cabinet seals.

ANADIGICS Inc. announced that the company is delivering HELP2™ power amplifiers (Pas) to LG Electronics for its new 3G Vu™ mobile device currently available through AT&T. The LG Vu is one of the first touch screen devices to support AT&T Mobile TV, allowing users to view live streaming TV shows right in the palm of their hand on a 3” display. The ultra slim design offers a 2.0 megapixel camera with zoom, music player, messaging, mobile e-mail and web browsing abilities. This 3G handset claims to deliver significantly longer talk time by utilizing the power-saving features of ANADIGICS HELP2 technology.

Also in the power device world, Microsemi Corp., a manufacturer of high performance analog/mixed signal integrated circuits and high reliability semiconductors, announced its first two RF power transistors utilizing silicon carbide technology for high power VHF and UHF band pulsed radar applications. These RF power transistors utilize state-of-the-art silicon carbide technology designed for VHF - 150 to 160 MHz, and UHF - 406 to 450 MHz, respectively. These high performance, common gate, class AB, high power transistors offer the industry’s highest power output, typical 1400 W at VHF and 1100 W at UHF of peak power in compact single-ended packages.

Exhibiting its RO4000 and RO3000 laminates and other advanced materials at the Taiwan Printed Circuit Assembly show (TPCA) 2008 to be held at the Nangang Exhibition Hall in Taipei, Taiwan on October 22-24 was the news out of Rogers Corporation this week. Rogers will also display several of its highly effective thermal management solutions, including COOLSPAN™ and HEATWAVE™ materials

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Microsemi Releases First Series of SiC High Power Devices

A few years ago most of the HPA manufacturers were researching the next generation of high power devices on GaN and SiC. But is seems like most companies choose GaN for their next generation of devices and interest in SiC seemed to fade (except as a substrate material for GaN).

Over the past year, many companies have released new high power GaN devices and it seems to be taking off for many of the higher frequency applications and high voltage LDMOS seems to be doing the same for lower frequency applications. So I am excited to see Microsemi bringing SiC to the market with the release of a new family of high power devices and talked with them last week for a press briefing.

With a high operating voltage (125 V) and great thermal conductivity, these devices boost wider pulse widths, better reliability, and reduced size compared to the competing Si devices for next generation demands. They have typical power levels of 1400 W at 156 MHz and 1100 W at 405-450 MHz (300 micro sec pulse width, 10% duty cycle) plus can stand up to VSWR of 10:1 (which could be much higher after further testing) for these initial devices. Microsemi is first introducing these VHF and UHF devices followed by later releases of L-band and S-band devices. For more details, the release is available on our site. It should be interesting to follow how these devices evolve in the marketplace.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

IMD measurements... with a Network Analyzer?

In a previous life, I spent some time developing homegrown software programs to perform various RF tests (power measurements, load-pull, IMD, etc.) and so I have a soft spot in my heart for automated test systems. Therefore, news of an intermodulation distortion (IMD) application for Agilent's PNA-X microwave network analyzer caught my eye.

Anyone who has made this measurement knows you need to drive your device (one with non-linear behavior, thus the distortion) with two signal sources (slightly seperate frequencies) and test equipment to measure the output signals (the two input signals plus the generated intermod tones), usually a spectrum analyzer.


Agilent's network-analyzer-based approach does not require any external computer or hardware beyond the PNA-X network analyzer. Instead, dual internal sources and a built-in signal combiner provide fast swept-IMD measurements, according to the company - approximately 100 times faster than spectrum-analyzer based solutions. This approach results in higher throughput in manufacturing and faster time-to-market for R&D engineers. An internal calibration routine ensures accurate answers, yielding better data for R&D designers as well as tighter specifications for manufacturing engineers. Apparently the applicxation includes a spectrum mode which enables troubleshooting without the need for a seperate spectrum analyzer.

Joel Dunsmore from Agilent wrote about the new capabilities by today's network analyzer to do more than just S-parameters in his March "Expert Advice" column on the Microwave Journal web site. It may be a good time for those of you who missed it, to go back and give it a read.

http://www.mwjournal.com/search/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_5531

Sunday, October 5, 2008

RF/mW Financial Update: 10/03/08

Microchip and ON Semiconductor launched a $2.3 billion offer to buy Atmel for $5 dollars a share. The two Arizona-based companies would break up Atmel, selling its nonvolatile memory and RF and automotive business to ON Semi and possibly disposing of Atmel's ASIC business if the proposed acquisition goes through. Shares of Microchip fell nearly 5%, while On Semiconductor shares were down 14.7% on the news.

The current global financial situation appears to be having an impact on the microwave job market as Sony Ericsson announced the cutting of 2,000 jobs. Meanwhile, IC Insights released its 2008 forecast update, stating that the global IC market growth will likely be between 1 and 5% this year as unit volumes rise but average selling prices fall.

Freescale has decided to opt out of the mobile IC business. Instead, the company intends to increase its investments in the automotive, broadcast, radar, medical and networking markets, as well as in the industrial and consumer markets.

Market research group Strategy Analytics predicts the global market for RF components for cellular basestations will remain flat at $1.1 billion through 2013. Strategy Analytics makes this prediction despite the fact that forecasts for actual shipments of basestations are expected to grow to 13.4 million units in 2013, a CAAGR (compound annual average growth rate) of nearly 70 percent. The flat revenue reflects a decrease in component price.

The report also suggest the migration to 3G+ and fourth generation networks will also drive a move toward smaller form factors as operators look to reuse existing sites and infill capacity with smaller base stations.

The penetration of micro base stations is forecast to increase to 29 percent between this year and 2013, but the largest growth in shipments will come from picocell and femtocell shipments.

Friday, October 3, 2008

WiMAX World: Redline chooses picoChip SDR Platform

Getting an early jump on the news coming out of WiMAX World conference in Chicago occurring September 29 through October 3rd, picoChip on Monday announced that Redline Communications, a leading provider of standards-based WiMAX access and broadband wireless infrastructure products, has selected their PC8532 modem to power its next generation RedMAX 4C™ Mobile WiMAX basestations. picoChip is a leading supplier of high-performance multi-core DSP, offering a powerful platform to develop products for emerging global wireless communications markets such as WiMAX, WCDMA, LTE, TD-SCDMA and 4G. picoChip’s products scale from femtocell access points and picocells to sophisticated multi-sector carrier macrocells.

The agreement gives Redline access to a software defined radio (SDR) platform with best-in-class performance/cost ratio. Redline has added its low-complexity maximum-likelihood receiver to the picoChip design in order to increase uplink system performance for coverage and capacity. The software-defined system supports upgrades to future standards, such as LTE, 802.16e Release 1.5 and 802.16m.
Redline, which is also an exhibitor here at the show, sells to carrier and enterprise level organizations in both developed and key high-growth markets around the world, and has more than 166 deployments of its WiMAX Forum Certified™ systems to date. The company has previously delivered mobile broadband to UK and Silicon Valley train networks and created North America’s largest education sector wireless network.
Speaking about the agreement, picoChip’s CEO and president, Guillaume d’Eyssautier, stated: “Our ability to offer advanced IO-MIMO capability and future support for 16m and LTE helped, but the fact that they (Redline) were persuaded by the quality our PHY is testament to the strength of the picoChip offering. We are very excited to have Redline as a key customer.”
The Redline RedMAX 4C Mobile WiMAX platform, which is based on the WiMAX industry’s 802.16e-2005 standards for mobile WiMAX, supports a wide range of fixed, portable and mobile wireless services including support voice and video over IP, broadband Internet access used to support high value education, medical, transportation and municipal applications, VPNs (virtual private networks) and other advanced communications services.
The RedMAX 4C is designed to enable operators to maximize the reach and customer density required for a profitable carrier business model. It includes a modular, standardized µTCA (micro Telecommunications Computing Architecture) chassis basestation that is small, lightweight and easy to deploy. RedMAX 4C will also include a suite of indoor and outdoor fixed and portable end-user devices including laptops, mobile handsets and PDAs. Redline’s new WiMAX offering is also designed to facilitate the integration of its existing RedMAX products with its RedMAX 4C technologies, providing operators a path to true mobility.

Emdrive - Microwaves to Create Space Thruster?



Something a little more from fringe science: I recently heard on my favorite tech news podcast that there was an article published in New Scientist about a space (as in outer space) drive that converts electrical energy into thrust using microwaves. It has caused a lot of uproar about not being possible because it violates the law of conservation of momentum, making it impossible to build. But the Chinese (looking for any technological advantage in space they can get) claim to have confirmed the theory and are building a demonstration unit.

The theory is that the drive creates thrust by tapering a resonant cavity filled with microwaves. The thrust is small, 85 compared to 92 mN for the NSTAR ion thruster used by NASA, but enough to power space vehicles and it uses much less power than the NSTAR. Apparently, the microwaves are introduced into a tapered cavity and strike the larger end of the cavity with more force than the smaller end that has less area which creates thrust. One big question is why doesn't the force exerted on the sides also create opposing forces that cancel out each other.

Interesting stuff - we will have to see how it works out. Some of us might be building space thrusters soon. Do you think it will work?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

EB Releasing New Emulator Platform


As editors, we get to participate in company and product briefings quite often, so I thought I would start covering them here as interesting tidbits beyond the typical product or press releases. They get much more in depth than the news items so they can provide additional insights.

I talked with Elektrobit (now EB) last week about their new emulator platform, EB Propsim F8, and was very impressed with its capability to test all current and future cellular standards including real air interface conditions that the standards do not necessarily cover. It supports the current standards in place plus 3G/WiMAX/LTE/4G in one box, has the widest RF bandwidth up to 125 MHz with MIMO (up to 8x8), highest number of channels (2-8 physical and 4-32 logical), highest delay range (up to 1.5 sec), supports baseband interface and actual measured network radio propagation emulation. This product was recently announced the other day in conjunction with WiMAX World in Chicago.

As an ex-marketing communications person, I really like their newer branding as EB. The colors and style really work to present them as a modern, high tech company. They really seem to have the leading edge products for their markets.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WiMAX World 2008: The 4G Executive Summit

The 4G Executive Summit at the WiMAX World 2008 Conference and Expo was a full day event, hosted by Berge Ayvazian, the Chief strategy Officer with the Yankee Group. The event included a keynote speech by Hank Kafka, the VP of Architecture for AT&T on “Operator Strategies for 4G Networks” as well as a talk by Charlie Martin, Wireless Chief Technology Officier for Huawei Technologies (USA) followed by a 4G executive roundtable, networking lunch and four afternoon sessions on infrastructure strategies, 4G Device and CPE strategies, regulatory and spectrum policy; and 4G applications workshop.

In all the program was designed to deliver comprehensive thought leadership on these key topics:
1. Personal and Mobile Broadband Services
2. Enabling Disruptive 4G Mobile Technologies
3. Wireless Broadband and Mobile Applications Strategies
4. Mobile Content and Commerce Strategies
5. Mobile TV, Quad Play, and Broadband Embedded Consumer Electronics
6. New Business Models for Personal Broadband and the Mobile Internet



The talks


In his keynote talk this morning at the 4G Executive Summit (WiMAX World ) AT&T's Hank Kafka claimed that, “For the U.S. wireless market to meet the soaring demands of consumers, we have got to set targets, but targets without a plan are only wishful thinking. In general, most of our operators have similar 4G targets but the difference will be in the path to those targets."The nature of that path was the main topic of discussion at this executive summit. AT&T’s Kafka extolled the virtues of GSM and its long-term evolution (LTE)."Our evolution has been from GPRS to EDGE to UMTS to HSPA and soon LTE," Kafka said. "It's clear that LTE will fit neatly... This is the great advantage of the GSM evolution: We are not starting from scratch. GSM can build from the existing technologies. It takes years for new technologies to get broad coverage nationwide."


While AT&T envisioned an evolutionary path toward 4G, the summit's chair and moderator, Yankee Group's Chief Strategy Officer Berge Ayvazian, however had a different take. "I went to bed last night with nightmares," Ayvazian deadpanned. "I couldn't start this session without noting that the 4G revolution is coming amidst a meltdown--a global financial crisis... The failure of Congress to pass the bailout led to unprecedented 777 points and $1.2T loss... Why am I even talking about this? Bank failures, nationalizing major companies... What does this mean? What a day to launch the 4G revolution, right? It's a perfect day. In the midst of a crisis you launch a revolution."


For the next few years at least, 3G networks will be under constant improvement and so one might ask (as Pat touches upon in his blog entry of September 30th), where can the 4G label be used and when is it relevant? If HSPA+ will be WiMAX's biggest competitor while LTE is in the works, where does 3G stop and 4G begin?



One possible answer to this question was suggested during the summit by Huawei USA's Wireless CTO Charlie Martin. During his keynote this morning, Mr. Martin stated, "The ITU will specify which technology is and isn't 4G, but there is no doubt that 3G is converging toward LTE. When it comes to 4G the emphasis has been on bandwidth... in our WiMAX launches we have not seen mobility as a factor. Most of our WiMAX launches are for bundled services that include VoIP and basic broadband offerings. So, for Huawei it's generally very clear to us. We don't get in many super-competitive situations [LTE vs. WiMAX deployments]. It's almost always very clear cut."

Perhaps the view from the executive summit is still somewhat cloudy.

Are We Getting Carried Away With Wireless Generations?

We all see references to 2G, 3G and 4G wireless systems and sometimes we see references to 2.5G as an in between system, but now I am seeing 2.75G, 3.75G and even 3.9G (why not just say close to 4G or just under 4G). How can you have a half or three quarters of a generation? I guess if you just base it on data rates, maybe we can get these fractional generations.

What caught my eye was the Asus announcement that they are adding 3.75G wireless to their new laptops due out in October 2008. They state download rates of 7.2 Mbit/s and upload rates of 2 Mbit/s which is very good, but it is really just HSUPA technology so why not just call it that. Maybe it is not as elegant as 3.75G.

It took a very long time to develop systems from 2G to 3G, so I can see why we have the 2.5G but anything beyond that is getting carried away in my book. But I guess it is progress as long as the numbers keep getting larger!

Friday, September 26, 2008

MATLAB available (with purchase)

On Wednesday of this week, Agilent Technologies and The MathWorks announced the availability of MATLAB with the purchase of Agilent's EXA, MXA, or PSA signal analyzers.

Hmmmmm.... what does this mean? Are they giving away a seat of MATLAB with the purchase of one of these high-performance analyzers? Well, no. One has to read this press release very closely to figure out what is being offered.

Agilent and The MathWorks are making MATLAB available as a purchase option when buying one of these signal analyzers. I don't know how difficult it was to purchase MATLAB in the past, but I suppose this has the benefit of reducing the number of purchase requests you need to submit to your evil purchasing department. In that sense it is good news.

It's also good news to see two big companies we rely on for our product development collaborating at any level. So while our wishful thinking was for a free copy of MATLAB, we will still be grateful that Agilent and The MathWorks see the benefits of working together for the sake of their customers.

Citing that ,"The combination of Agilent signal analyzers and MATLAB data analysis software enables engineers to confidently analyze, visualize, demodulate, and filter signals that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to do. ", the two companies felt the agreement would provide high-quality instrumentation and data analysis software from a single source.

Here are the details:


* The MATLAB Basic Signal Analysis Package provides an introductory software package for configuring and controlling Agilent instruments and performing basic signal and visualization tasks from the MATLAB environment.

* The MATLAB Standard Signal Analysis Package adds functionality for filtering signals and analyzing modulation schemes.

* The MATLAB Advanced Signal Analysis Package adds functionality for advanced filter design methods and radio frequency (RF) component analysis.


For additional information or to purchase MATLAB software with Agilent EXA, MXA, and PSA signal analyzers, visit www.agilent.com/find/N6171A. and don't forget to tell them the Journal sent you!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

G1 Versus iPhone 3G - The Great Cell Phone Fight Has Begun!

It this corner, we have the champion, Apple's iPhone 3G, and in the other corner we have the new contender, Google's (and its partner's) Android phone. Well, everyone is buzzing now after the release of the first Android phone with T-Mobile's G1. The initial reviews are in and they seemed to be mixed. The G1 has a lot of nice features and great potential with its open platform. But the G1 does not have some key features like Exchange support so that counts it out of the corporate board room (for now). One key to Apple's success is its great music integration with iTunes, so I believe the key for Android is its alliance with Amazon to provide DRM free music. Could be the weapon that wins or loses the war!

I purposely left out the Blackberry which in its own right is a very functional device but it is not intended for the same audience as the iPhone and G1, in my opinion. For us in the wireless industry, it all means that we have to keep cramming more and more into the ever shrinking phone. What do you think?

Friday, September 19, 2008

2008 European Microwave Week


European Microwave Week (EuMW) is coming up at the end of Oct. in Amsterdam. As we gear up for the show and coverage, I noticed that there are quite a few spin offs from Aachen University of Applied Sciences including Mician, MiG, IMST and Heuermann HF-Technik. We have worked with Mician, MiG and IMST - all of them have very impressive products and now we noticed that Heuermann HF-Technik also has developed some interesting products such as lap timing microwave devices for racing applications. Quite an impressive incubator of new companies coming out of Aachen University indeed.

Our September issue is dedicated to complete coverage of EuMW with articles covering the conference and exhibition plus a historical look at EuMW and the industry in Europe. We also have articles covering Amsterdam highlighting places of interest, how to get around and where to eat. We will also be beginning our Online Show Daily coverage of the show beginning in Oct. here.

We also invited our readers of the magazine in Sept. to join in here on the blog and comment on any interesting events or places to visit in Amsterdam. Please post your comments below!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Microwave will ease '4G' backhaul strain


According to wireless technology leader, Radio Frequency Systems (RFS), high-capacity microwave links could provide relief to the strain felt by backhaul infrastructure, as high data throughputs and subscriber demand consume network capacity. RFS Area Product Manager, Asad Zoberi sees backhaul capacity as a likely bottleneck unless the networks (traditional T1 lines, opitical fiber and mircowave radio links) are upgraded. Zoberi is an advocate for microwave networks as they are less costly and far quicker to install.

Accommodating the higher-capacity services opens the way for innovative system architectures in microwave backhaul networks. Dual-polarized antennas double the capacity of the antenna system. Moreover, the superior interference characteristics of ultra-high performance antennas allow the installation of additional antennas on existing sites as new microwave backhaul systems are deployed. Zoberi expects two sections of the E-band spectrum, which are available between 71 and 86GHz, to come into frequent use in 2009. Trial systems have already been deployed. Using 1- or 2-foot antennas, E-band microwave systems provide 200 to 600Mbit/s capacity over distances up to two miles.

According to Zoberi, the growing demand for enhanced wireless data services to be available ‘anytime and anywhere’ is increasing pressure on operators to re-assess their backhaul infrastructure--with higher capacity the key. “For the network operators, the expression ‘time is money’ rings true,” he said. “Quick to install, high-capacity microwave systems offer a flexible and reliable solution to the backhaul dilemma as we embark on the next steps of wireless evolution.”

Perhaps some "Optical Fiber Guys" would like to argue their case for superiority in this area. We're all ears.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

E-Ink Cover for Esquire Magazine

By now most people have heard of or seen the 75th anniversary issue cover of Esquire magazine with the E-Ink display that flashes messages electronically (see link to Engadget video above). But why is this interesting to the RF and microwave community? Well, the future E-Ink technology might enable electronic newspapers or e-books to be transmitted via wireless to your piece of E-Ink "paper" in real time. Imagine picking up your E-Ink sheet each day off the kitchen table and seeing the latest news from your favorite newspaper or reading your e-book on the way to work. What an Eco-friendly technology that could save massive amounts of trees each year.

It could become the new display technology that is easy to read for more complicated articles or even videos rather than your small cell phone or Blackberry display. E-books do not seem to have caught on yet probably due to the limited display technology that would allow us to read them easier like a real book or newspaper (the Kindle is probably the closest thing to date). What ideas do you have for your E-Ink sheet of paper???

Monday, September 15, 2008

CDMA2000 and 1xEV-DO worldwide users surpass 450 million and 100 million, respectively

The CDMA Development Group (CDG) announced that CDMA2000 and 1xEV-DO technologies have surpassed 450 million and 100 million users, respectively, worldwide. The total cumulative cdmaOne and CDMA2000 subscriber base has reached 463 million, growing 12 million net subscribers during the second quarter of 2008.

CDMA2000 subscriptions grew at pace of 19 per cent between June 2007 and June 2008, with the strongest growth coming from the Asia Pacific region, followed by North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Asia Pacific accounts for 52 per cent of the global CDMA market, adding more than 51 million new CDMA2000 subscribers during the same period. North America (including the U.S. and Canada) saw an addition of over 18 million new CDMA2000 users over the year and, with 144 million subscribers, CDMA now accounts for more than 51 per cent of the wireless market in the region. Europe, the Middle East and Africa added more than 13 million CDMA2000 subscribers in the past year, more than doubling its subscribers at a 142 per cent growth rate.

Operators added almost 25 million EV-DO users from June 2007 to June 2008, representing a 33 per cent annual increase. The CDMA2000 1xEV-DO broadband solution has 123 operators in 62 countries offering high-speed CDMA services. Up to 44 of these operators have deployed CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A networks to offer mobile broadband services, and another 36 operators are in the process of deploying the solution. CDG says that EV-DO is growing the fastest among North American operators, gaining more than 17 million subscribers at a 46 per cent growth rate. Europe, the Middle East and Africa saw the number of EV-DO subscribers triple over the past year, while Latin America and Asia Pacific users increased by 29 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wilmington, N.C. - the first major city to permanently switch TV broadcasts from analog to digital.

Wilmington, N.C., has become the first major city to permanently switch TV broadcasts from analog to digital. Most of the country will make the transition to digital TV on Feb. 17.

A crowd of media, elected officials and curious residents packed Wilmington's City Hall on Monday to watch the mayor and the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission flip a 7-foot mock switch.

The change from analog to digital jump-starts the FCC's campaign for the national transition in February. The commission is now focusing on cities with more than 15 percent of the population watching over-the-air television signals.

Over the past four months, the FCC has been at senior centers, retail outlets, festivals and farmers markets with booths touting the transition. The local airwaves were blanketed with public service announcements, but still people weren't ready.

College students were at local television stations trying to help confused viewers who started calling minutes after the switch at noon Monday. According to reports, the switch over did not go without incident for a number of television viewers. The main objective of the excercise was to identify likely problems for average viewers when the switch occurs. Based on this "experiment", a certain amount of confusion is to be expected. Hopefully, the glitches can be worked out in time for the nationwide switch.