I must admit that I'm a little tired and my voice is definitely hoarse after staying up late to watch the Celtics and Lakers in game 6 of the NBA finals. Somehow it feels worth it though. Wednesday will be another full day of meetings with vendors to hear about the latest and greatest products. The Microwave Journal has three full-time editors working the show floor and talking to exhibitors with some help from our Managing editor, Keith Moore who is talking to a few exhibitors himself. Most of Keith's time is up in the MWJ press room (our own command center) along with staff editor, Jenn DiMarco feeding our news wire. Keeping up with all the news coming from the exhibitors is keeping Keith and Jenn extremely busy. To view their work, make sure you visit http://www.mwjournal.com/2008/IMS/ .
Our first appointment of the day is with our partner in the Besser/MWJ webinar series. Publisher Carl Sheffres and I sat down with Jeff Lange and Rex Frobenius of Besser to discuss the status of the series and start our planning for next year. Our agreed upon goal is to put together a schedule for the entire 2009 calendar year that will be posted on the Microwave Journal and Besser Websites. Doing so will allow potential attendees to sign-up months in advance or sign-up for mulitple web events all at once. We kick around ideas concerning different potential topics, but decide to talk with various exhibitors (and potential sponsors) about themes that seem to be of particular interest to the industry. Have suggestions? Blog us or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By 9:00 I'm on the show floor and meeting with Mark Heibesen of Endwave. These guys are doing some impressive module design with their "Smart T/R" modules. These are integrated transceivers. The smarts comes from an embedded digital micorcontroller that provides automatic adjustments of transceiver parameters. What the Endwave folks have been developing over the past few years is the technology to eliminate cross-talk between the transmit and receive chains, avoiding noise figure degradation in the receiver that could be caused by digital logic, modulation and control signal interference. This isolation also supresses LO leakage that would adversely affect transmitter linearity. Applications include Cellular backhaul, Defense (e.g. phased array radars) and homeland security.
Mark kindly shows me three generations of products so that I can appreciate the engineering involved with reducing the product size while increasing functionality. Mark credits a fine engineering staff, EM simulation and good old cut and try methods to acheive outstanding performance in module design and component integration. Mark is also proud of their MMIC/RFIC design capability as Endwave moves from using off-the-shelf ICs to ones that they design for even better performance. Mark tells me that the performance and functionality have resulted in strong sales to the point where Endwave is on the lookout for more engineering talent. If your interested check out http://www.endwave.com/company_careers.cfm . Tell them the Journal sent you!
Look for a full article on the Endwave technology and online Interview with Mark coming later this year.
Leaving Endwave, I head over to (L3) Narda Microwave for a chat. Narda is showing off their generation NEXT - microwave integrated circuit (MIC) technology. Narda's multifunctional assemblies, housed in hermetically machined packages combine microwave hybrid manufacturing with multilayer PCB incorporating digital devices. Benefits include very dense integration of digital , microwave and analog functionality; incorporation of FPGAs for signal processing and temp compensation. Their products operate from .5 up to 50GHz and include complex frequency sources, digitally controlled attenuators, MILSATCOM block up and block down converters, 43 Gb/s and higher fiber optic drivers, digitally controlled synthesizers and transceivers. Narda was also showing off their line of products serving the RF safety and monitoring market. With over 1000 parts in inventory for fast delivery, Walt from Narda keeps himself busy maintaining a comprehensive parts catalog. for more go to http://www.nardamicrowave.com/east/
Leaving Narda, I head over to Anaren to talk about their products and business. Size is again a leading theme as John Hoeschele of the marketing group tells me about Anaren's matched 0404 balun which is currently being used in Texas Instruments CC2420, CC2430 and CC2500 line of low-power, small footprint low-system cost transceivers. Work continues on further size reductions to the popular Xinger coupler, look for coverage on these developments in the near future. Business is apparently quite good as they too are looking for skilled engineers. Opportunity knocks - in Syracuse NY!
I spend my lunchtime with Mimix management and engineers, talking about their SmartSet line of MMIC C-band and Ku-band chips for SATCOM and point-to-point digital radios. These complete QFN chipsets give design engineers the opportunity to create fully SMT radio boards at very low prices and fast time to market. The Ku-band (10 to 16 GHz) chipset is based upon a common LO feed to the receive and transmit paths. On the receiver side the XR1015-QG integrates an LNA, image reject mixer and LO buffer amp in a 4x4 mm QFN package. This device also includes ESD protection and DC-bypass. On the transmit path an up-converter feeds into a high-gain buffer amp (XB1008-QT) in a miniature 3x3mm GFN package. The buffer amp feeds a driver amp (XP1042-QT) which in turn drives the Mimix flagship product, the XP1043-QH power amp. The driver and PA pair can be bias adjusted for stable power and gain regulation over 30dB of dynamic range. Also includes on-chip temp compensated power detector for output power monitoring and gain power control.
Key for designers looking to utilize these devices are the integration of four or more functions into a single MMIC, reducing chip count and simplifying the board design and layout. We will feature an in-depth article on Mimix's technology and chip sets later this year.
After lunch, it is back to the show floor and a meeting with Freescale's Leonard Pelletier and Jeanette Wilson (among others). Freescale had participated earlier in a video interview with MWJ editor Pat Hindle. Pat and I both got a live demo of the Freescale 50V LDMOS technology. In the morning they were demoing the 330 watt long-pulse (300 MHz, 12% duty cycle) L_band application. My demo was the MRF6VP3450H device in an amplifier operating at 90 watt output power at 860 MHz for analog and digital UHF TV broadcast. This device can handle 10:1 VSWR at 50 Vdc, 470MHz, 450 watts peak power (pulse width of 10usec, duty cycle = 2.5%)
From Freescale it was over to the AWR booth for a meeting with VP of Marketing, Sherry Hess and product manager Mike Hiemlich. Mike give an impressive demo of the new UI innovations designed to improve desktop efficiency and reduce mouse clicks for enhanced design entry and engineering productivity. I also saw the ACE and Axiom technology in action, both of which are worth checking out if you haven't already. I must say the AWR folks understand what it is like to be a microwave engineer, in terms of the fast modeling (layout and simulation) of the distributed networks that characterize RF/microwave design.
From AWR, I go see a new competitor to Freescale in the power transistor space - Hvvi Semiconductor. They too are demoing a power device in an L-band pulsed amplifier for identify friend or foe applications. Their technology is based on a novel high voltage vertical FET called the HVVFET which they hope to compete against LDMOS technology with. Excellent heat transfer characteristics, gain, efficiency, power and ruggedness are the capabilities that the HVVi folks are touting. Their 600W amplifier (a balanced amp design using two of their 330 Watt transistors) is impressively small.
Speaking of small - my final scheduled meeting of the day is with Avago and their discrete RF gain blocks are certainly that. About half the size of a lady bug's head, you need a microscope to see the VMMK-2x03 amplifier. Using chip-scale packaging, Avago boosts that this is the world's smallest RF amplifier. This fully matched, single positive DC supply fully-matched SMT design has been optimized for .5 to 12 GHz operation, ideal for radio architectures. the ultra-small 1mmx.5mmx.25mm package is so small, you would think you were looking at a tiny SMT capacitor rather than an amplifier. Besides chip-scale packaging, we talk about their AFEM-9601 dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz) WiFi 802.11 abgn front end module suitable for MIMO applications. This design utilizese enhancement mode pHEMT GaAs ICs on an LTCC substrate and includes dual-band PAs, LNAs, switches, logic and power detectors. We aso get the chance to talk about Avago's highly successful FBAR filter technology (one billion devices shipped to date).
The new ACFM-7103 PCS/Cellular/GPS Quintplexer provides critical miniaturization advantages by replacing two duplexers, one filter and a triplexer in a single compact integrated module with a 4 x 7 mm footprint. This device is ideal for use with the Qualcomm CDMA QSC chipset.
The exhibition floor lights start to flicker, signifying the end of the day for the show and time for the evening IMS reception followed by a great rock n' roll party held by AWR,Mimix,Jazz and Synopsys. The IMS reception is well attended and an excellent opportunity to catch-up with some of the folks I haven’t had the chance to talk to yet while having a drink and light appetizers. Day two comes to an end.