Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The end of the year in pictures

With my camera-enabled Blackberry (or any phone), its much easier to record life's little snipets for posterity. Eventually though, its time to get those images off the phone's memory, to start a new collection of moments for sharing. And so this week I find myself cleaning out my camera's memory at years end.

I'm not one to take pictures frequently (with a camera or phone), but I did travel quite a bit for work towards the end of 2010 and that is when I am most likely to "snap a few shots". And so here's a quick photo essay of the end of 2010, from the perspective of a roving Microwave Journal editor. Got some industry related shots of your own? Send them to me at and we'll consider posting them in a master photo album for the holidays. Enjoy !

Back in November, I travelled with our Northeast Regional Sales Manager, Mike Hallman to the Garden State, where we met a number of hard working RF/mW vendors. New Jersey has a great community of Microwave shops including Voltronics, Synergy, Wireless Telecom Group, MECA, Anatech, Pulsar, GT Microwave, Astrolab, and Anadigics just to name a few. I used to travel there frequently back in my Ansoft days (former Compact Software facility) and have a fondness for the state.

George Apsley, Chief Engineer Product Development and Amy Kulp, Marketing Director, GT Microwave with Mike Hallman, Regional Sales Manager, Microwave Journal.

It was at GT Microwave that I took these pictures. Its not every company whose founder is married to a stained glass artist. If that was the case, perhaps more lobbies would be adorned like GT Microwave. An RF power combiner in stained glass is certainly a thing of beauty. The detail in the coax connectors is amazing, right down to the flange screws. If you're in Randolph New Jersey, pay GT Microwave a visit.


Here's MWJ publisher Carl Sheffres and Horizon House Event Manager Michel Zoghob together at our booth at APMC/MWE 2010 in Yokohama, Japan. They've been working so closely for years that they are starting to look related. Dont you agree? This was in early December. Great time for a long flight, a glimpse of the Japanese microwave market and some Sushi.

I loved this display. A famous radio tower in Japan constructed from semi-rigid coax cables and a variety of connectors (BNC, SMA, N-type, etc.). I was informed that last year they used similar components to reconstruct a famous Tokyo bridge. Perhaps next year they will go for a Godzilla design. Either way, very creative use of coax and connectors and a good way to get a show attendee to stop by the booth and hear some more about the company. OK MTT exhibitors, here's an opportunity to raise the bar on creativity.

I call this the Microwave Menora but actually it is a very interesting, millimeter-wave waveguide combiner for 60 GHz. Again this is from APMC/MWE. Japan has long been interested in 60 GHz applications, often tied to collision avoidance radar for automobiles. This is a fine example of the precise engineering and machining on display at APMC.

EuMW 2010

Final image for the year goes back to the roving editor in Paris at European Microwave Week this past September. Here I am after the first day at the show in the Latin Quarter, worried that I have arrived too late for the early bird, frog leg special. Our first European Defense/Security Executive Forum went off smoothly. The success of this event and the superb food (no frog legs but plenty of Fois Gras) made for a memorable trip.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

GaAs Market Recovers Strongly in Recent Report

According to a report from Strategy Analytics last weeek, the market value for GaAs revenues, driven by smartphones and consumer adoption of data-intensive applications, has grown strongly from the lows it struggled for in early 2009. The recently published Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductors (GaAs) report, “GaAs Device Vendor Market Share 2009: North America,” reports that this growth brought the total market value for GaAs revenues to little more than $4 billion, a slight increase over 2008 revenue levels.

Skyworks Solutions nudged past RFMD to take the top revenue spot for North American vendors. However, less than one percent market share separates both companies. TriQuint and Avago Technologies both recorded strong revenue growth, substantially gaining on industry leaders. “Even though revenue from the GaAs market in 2009 was only slightly higher than 2008, the story that emerges is the strong industry recovery during the last three-quarters of the year,” noted Eric Higham, Director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Service. “This growth is driven by consumer demand for new data-intensive applications, smartphones and the infrastructure that supports these capabilities. We expect these drivers to continue fueling growth through 2010.”

The report provides strategic comments, representative products and selected news items for a comprehensive set of North American GaAs vendors. It also identifies the top ten global vendors in terms of GaAs device market share. Strategy Analytics estimates that six of the top ten GaAs vendors—including all four top contenders--are located in North America.

RFMD and Skyworks are always a close 1 and 2 with TriQuint right behind them but I have seen Avago making big push to break into the top 3.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ABI Projects RF PA Revenue for Mobile/Cellular Markets

ABI recently talked about the rapid Chinese TD-SCDMA rollouts and the often-maligned GSM/GPRS/EDGE equipment markets have benefited the base station RF power amplifier and RF power device markets. The stated that GSM/GPRS/EDGE RFPAs and devices are still shipping in the millions. The Asia-Pacific region is presently accounting for more than 50% of the RF power semiconductor devices sold into the mobile wireless infrastructure segment.

Recent Chinese TD-SCDMA base station deployments have been massive, and have buoyed RF power vendors to a tremendous degree. That demand is expected to strengthen the market until at least sometime in 2011, and the Chinese deployments will probably only start to slow in 2012. And in a happy coincidence for equipment vendors, 2011 is the expected time frame for LTE deployments in developed countries to really gather a head of steam. Below is a nice graph of how they project the mobile/cellular PA market to breakdown over the next 5 years:

Microwave Backhaul Favored in W. Europe and Most of Asia-Pac

A new ABI report says that capital expenditure on mobile backhaul varies greatly by region and by technology. While most countries face similar current or future struggles to reduce network congestion, the solutions being adopted differ according to existing infrastructure, network generations, and government mandates and incentives.

One major division is whether to use optic fiber or microwave for mobile backhaul. CAPEX for microwave backhaul will peak in Western Europe this year at almost $4.4 billion, more than triple the figure for the next-highest region, Asia-Pacific. The European spending surge is due to the expansion of 3G networks to new areas, as well as a few initial 4G network deployments.
“Once that wave is completed in Western Europe, microwave backhaul will be left alone for a while,” comments ABI Research analyst Xavier Ortiz. “Following the 2010 spending spree, Western European microwave backhaul CAPEX will tumble in 2011 to just over half its peak level.”

Virtually all world regions will see some increase in microwave backhaul CAPEX over 2011-2013, followed by a gradual decline. The reasons vary by location. In Asia, many 3G networks will be rolled out during that period, and others will be expanded to reach remote, underserved areas. According to practice director Aditya Kaul, “Asia’s investment in microwave backhaul would be even greater were it not for the Chinese government’s mandate to use fiber for the country’s 3G and 4G networks. Although microwave is less expensive and faster to deploy, a governmental commitment to fiber means huge economies of scale, and fewer worries about zoning permissions.”

In the United States, the situation is very different. The prevalence of fiber optic cable in many parts of the country combined with the high cost of tower leasing mean that interest in microwave as a backhaul solution is lower than anywhere else. “Large service providers are saying they will only use microwave where fiber is unavailable,” says Ortiz.

It is interesting how Fiber and MW backhaul use differ from region to region. The economics and policies are very different in each region. I would think it would be mostly based on cost but that is not the case. Do you think China will ever change their mandate for Fiber only?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Microwaves and the Universe

In cosmology, cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation (also CMBR, CBR, MBR, and relic radiation) is a form of electromagnetic radiation that fills the universe. Unlike a traditional optical telescope, whereby the space between stars and galaxies appears pitch black, the radio telescope, exhibits a faint background glow between celestial bodies, almost exactly the same in all directions, that is not associated with any star, galaxy, or other object. This glow is strongest in the microwave region of the radio spectrum, hence the name cosmic microwave background radiation.

Most scientists believe the universe was created in the Big Bang around 13.7 billion years ago. Stars and galaxies started to form around 300 million years later. Our Sun was born around five billion years ago, while life first appeared on the Earth around 3.7 billion years ago. The CMB dates back to 300,000 years after the Big Bang and has now cooled to around -270 degrees C. Precise measurements of cosmic background radiation are critical to cosmology, since any proposed model of the universe must explain this radiation. The CMBR has a thermal black body spectrum at a temperature of 2.725 K, thus the spectrum peaks in the microwave range frequency of 160.2 GHz, corresponding to a 1.9 mm wavelength. This holds if you measure the intensity per unit frequency, as in Planck's law. If instead you measure it per unit wavelength, using Wien's law, the peak will be at 1.06 mm corresponding to a frequency of 283 GHz.

Nasa’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotophy Probe (WMAP) is a NASA Explorer mission that launched June 2001 to make fundamental measurements of cosmology -- the study of the properties of our universe as a whole. WMAP is responsible for mapping CMBR and has been stunningly successful, producing our new Standard Model of Cosmology including the first fine-resolution (0.2 degree) full-sky map of the microwave sky.

Concentric circles discovered in cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) – the after-effects of the Big Bang – display evidence of events that took place before most scientists believe the universe came into being. The recent controversial finding points to the existence of a universe that did not begin 13.7billion years ago, as is generally accepted, but is instead a cycle of so-called aeons. The discovery has been posted online on the website by respected scientist Professor Roger Penrose from Oxford University and Professor Vahe Gurzadyan from Yerevan State University, Armenia.

But Penrose and Gurzadyan argue that evidence unearthed by WMAP shows imprints in the radiation that are older than the Big Bang.. They say they have discovered 12 examples of concentric circles, some of which have five rings, meaning the same object has had five massive events in its history. The rings appear around galaxy clusters in which the variation in the background radiation appears to be strangely low.

The research appears to cast aside the widely-held 'inflationary' theory of the origins of the universe, which claims the universe began with the Big Bang, and will continue to expand until a point in the future, when it will end.
They believe the circles are imprints of extremely violent gravitational radiation waves generated by supermassive black hole collisions in a previous aeon before the last big bang.

They say that this means that this means that the universe cycles through aeons dominated by big bangs and supermassive black hole collisions. Penrose believes that his new theory of ‘conformal cyclic cosmology' means that black holes will eventually consume all the matter in the universe. According to this theory, when the black holes have finished consuming all the matter in the universe, energy will be all that remains, which will then trigger the next Big Bang - and the new aeon.

Penrose told the BBC: 'In the scheme that I'm proposing, you have an exponential expansion but it's not in our aeon - I use the term to describe [the period] from our Big Bang until the remote future. 'I claim that this aeon is one of a succession of such things, where the remote future of the previous aeons somehow becomes the Big Bang of our aeon.'

Read more:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Fun with MM-Wave Body Imaging

Thanks to the “don’t touch my junk” traveler, most of the public is now aware of the controversy over the body imaging technology being employed at various airports (65 as of October 2010). Two types of body imaging technologies are actually employed. The first one known as Backscatter X-ray is an advanced imaging technology that detects the radiation that reflected from the target. . Traditional X-ray machines detect hard and soft materials by the variation in transmission through the target. A competing technology is millimeter wave scanner which produces a 3D image whereas the backscatter x-ray 2D image. The airport security machines are also referred to as "body scanner", "whole body imager (WBI)", and "security scanner".

Its oddly humorous to see microwave technology back in the mainstream news (I considered the Apple iPhone antenna design flop to be a microwave story). In August of 2006 - Endwave announced an agreement to manufacture a complete RF system for a portal scanner used in a variety of security applications. The company would fully integrate and test the active RF subsystems which form the vertical electronic scanning array (or RF mast). Once assembled into the mechanical housing, each RF mast rotates 180 degrees around a person standing in the portal, providing a full 360 degree scan of the body within a matter of seconds. These masts would incorporate a full suite of Endwave switch arrays and transceivers, along with the associated cabling and surrounding framework that holds the scanning antennas onto each side of the portal.

In August of 2008, the Microwave Journal discussed this technology with an Endwave executive in our Executive Interview series:

MWJ: One interesting millimeter-wave application is “whole body imaging” that is being developed by L3 Communications for security and detection systems useed in places such as airports and government facilities. What’s Endwave’s contribution to this system and will they eventually replace metal detectors?

MH: I think our relationship with SafeView (part of L-3 since they were acquired in 2006) is one that deserves some special attention. We initially began our relationship with this private Santa Clara start-up by designing the Tx/Rx modules that went into their first generation scanner. This was straightforward for us, given our leadership in telecom transceivers and the similar technology and manufacturing processes used in our core business. Soon after, we were awarded the switch modules that allow the transmit signal to quickly switch between antenna elements and scan the body from floor to ceiling. Still later, SafeView awarded us the entire RF “mast” – or chassis, of which there are two inside any ProVision™ portal. These 7-foot tall chassis include all of our electronics, plus all the associated cabling, connectors, and metalwork. We integrate all that, run final test, and deliver these large masts to L-3 SafeView where they do the final integration into the portal and ship it out the door. So you can see we are far more than your everyday module supplier.

In April of this year, the Transportation Security Administration Chief, Kip Hawley, publicly announced that the TSA was going to ramp up purchases of millimeter-wave checkpoint security equipment. Specifically, the L-3 SafeView ProVision™ portals were singled out for deployment in many US airports. During Q2 of this year, the TSA began deploying 38 ProVision™ scanners in LA, Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegan, Miami, and New York’s JFK airport. Even more encouraging were comments from other TSA officials stating that the scanners could eventually replace metal detectors at the nation's 2,000 airport checkpoints and the pat-downs done on passengers who need extra screening. In addition to these airport checkpoint deployments, L-3 has publicly stated that scanners are already used in many different locations, including a few courthouses, jails and US embassies, as well as overseas border crossings, military checkpoints, government buildings and some foreign airports such as Amsterdam's Schiphol. So, it will be difficult for anyone reading this article to NOT see these millimeter-wave portals if they do airline travel. That should be exciting to our entire industry, as it’s sort of like “millimeter-waves going mainstream”.

MWJ: That is very interesting and I look forward to seeing this technology showing up in airports, especially if it means getting through security faster.

So despite the benefits, the public and TSA official need to resolve the objections people have to machines that can look through clothes.

Play Video

Cell Phone Radiation Risks - Now I have seen it all

There has been a wide array of cell phone radiation protection devices such as antenna shields, cell phone holders/covers, gloves and hats but now there is Belly Armor. It claims to protect an unborn child from everyday radiation from sources ranging from cell phones to WiFi with a material that is provided to act as a Faraday cage. It comes in various forms such as a blanket, belly band and tee.

I have not seen any evidence that non-ionizing radiation does any damage to the body other than heating from very high power sources. The FCC has set conservative limits on the power levels of cell phones and other devices in order to protect the public but there are still many concerns about long term exposure to various sources of radiation.

Can anyone point to any conclusive reports or studies that I have missed? What do you think??

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The 4G Controversy

Some industry experts and research analysts agree that today's WiMAX (802.16e) and LTE technologies are 4G but do they really meet the definition of 4G as others say they do not. Now that the ITU has officially accepted 802.16m and LTE-Advanced as IMT-Advanced technologies (4G), the issue has surfaced again. What makes it more confusing is that where the ITU mainly referred to IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced in the past, it is now including 3G with IMT-2000 and 4G with IMT-Advanced.

It is true that the current LTE and WiMAX systems are 4th generation networks so shouldn't they be called that. But 4G networks should also meet some minimal performance specs for data rates, security, etc. (ITU now specifies 4G with peak rates up to about 100 Mbit/s). With the ITU's specifications of 4G now published, the performance specifications for 4G are far above those of current systems making them more like 3.9G (or something like that) as their speeds are in the tens of Mbit/s speeds.

All the carriers are calling their latest networks 4G any way in order to keep up with their marketing to the public of the latest faster networks. T-Mobile is saying their new HSPA+ network is 4G; AT&T and Verizon are deploying LTE networks as 4G; and Sprint and Clearwire are deploying WiMAX in the same way. So the point is probably mute as these carriers are already defining and marketing their current networks as 4G, so I think it is too late for the ITU to define it. But I agree that the ITU has a more proper definition since performance specifications are spelled out to quantify the requirements.

Here is our latest article written by the UMTS Chairman about the evolution of from HSPA to LTE and beyond. What do you think?

and the winner is....

The Global Semiconductor Association (GSA) just announced its 2010 Award Nominees for the Annual Awards Dinner Celebration and there are a few familiar RF/Microwave semiconductor vendors among the list of companies being honored at the gala happening on December 9th in San Jose.

- SiGe Semiconductor, Inc. was nominated for the Most Respected Private Semiconductor Company award

- Broadcom Corporation was nominated for the Most Respected Public Semiconductor Company award nominees achieving $500 million to $10 billion in annual sales

- Hittite Microwave Corporation and QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies were nominated for the Best Financially Managed Semiconductor Company award

- In the Analyst Favorite Semiconductor Company award category: Skyworks Solutions, Inc. (along with Broadcom and QUALCOMM) was nominated by analyst Tim Luke of Barclays Capital, Avago Technologies was nominated by analyst Ross Seymore of Deutsche Bank Securities and Hittite was nominated by Needham & Company analyst Quinn Bolton.

The GSA Awards Dinner Celebration is made possible through the support of this year’s title sponsor, TSMC; VIP sponsor NASDAQ OMX; networking reception sponsor GLOBALFOUNDRIES; as well as general sponsors including Advantest, Amkor Technology, ARM, ASE Group, Atheros Communications, Barclays Capital, Broadcom Corporation, Cadence Design Systems, CSR plc, Deutsche Bank, eSilicon Corporation, GlobalFoundries, IBM, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, MagnaChip Semiconductor, Marvell Semiconductor, MIPS Technologies, Mohawk Valley Edge, Morgan Stanley, Needham & Company, NetLogic Microsystems, NVIDIA Corporation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies, Samsung Semiconductor, SAP and UMC.

I’ll be sending my tux out for cleaning, just as soon as I receive my invite.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NFC Rumored to be in Next iPhone

There was a report last week that Apple is already testing a prototype iPhone with near-field communication (NFC) capability inside that could lead to using future iPhones as a mobile wallet or payment device. Unnamed sources say that Apple is testing an iPhone with NFC chips procured from NXP Semiconductor. It's not clear what exactly what they are testing and is very preliminary at this point. But coupled with the hire of Benjamin Vigier from mFoundry as mobile payments product manager, it seems possible that Apple could be planning to open up to mobile commerce.

Using it the iPhone for payment seems to be a good idea for Apple, which has 150 million credit cards already hooked up to iTunes accounts, as CEO Steve Jobs announced in June to its annual meeting of developers. There are applications being built for iOS devices as well as Android and other platforms that enable mobile payment, so building in a contactless payments feature makes sense and has been tested and used in other countries like Japan.

Do you think the iPhone will be the first to implement NFC or will an Android phone beat them to the punch?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

MILCOM 2010 - Utilizing Smartphones for the Warfighter

One of the major trends at MILCOM this year is leveraging the use of commercial smartphones for military use to field advanced communications to the field quickly. Billions of dollars are invested in commercial development for smartphones so why not use that advanced technology for the military. The commercial market also updates capabilities quickly so if the commercial smart phone can "plug" into a secure military network, the comm device does not become obsolete after a year or two.

One of the best examples of utilizing this strategy is Lockheed Martin's MONAX 3G broadband network. MONAX is designed to bring an affordable, 3G broadband network to Warfighters at the first tactical mile and enables the use of smartphones and delivers smartphone data, imagery, video and applications. Lockheed has designed a "brick" device (called a Lynx) that has a battery, antenna and RF circuitry to transmit and receive secure 3G communications to the network that the smartphone just clips into. A rubber sleeve is also used to encase the smartphone to make it more rugged. The device uses standard AES 256 encryption and utilizes different frequencies than commercial networks so as to not interfere with the local communications. The basestations can be put up on towers but are better used on airborne platforms like balloons where they are quickly deployed over the area and provide wider coverage. Below is a short video demonstration of the MONAX network.

The MONAX devices are available on GSA for around $1000. They provide a low cost quickly deployable network that can be used now. It is well suited for the Warfighter, disaster communications, rescue situations and similar situations where secure communications are needed quickly. It is not a fit for top secret or highly rugged communications but is a possible solution for most military communications needs. It is currently a 3G network but can be updated as the technology progresses to 4G and beyond.

They plan to build a library of apps appropriate for the Wargfighter such as mapping programs, video surveillance, facial recognition for identification, battle planning, medical apps to forward injured soldier information ahead to the medical unit and more. This will provide capable communications now while other programs come on line in the future like JTRS and WIN-T. The might be a secure iTunes app store in the future!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

FAQs - 4G and Future Directions in Cellular Wireless Standards

Courtesy of TriQuint Semiconductor

Q: What is 4G and where does it fit in the development of cellular communication standards?

A: 4G refers to the Fourth Generation of cellular wireless standards.

The First Generation (1G) of cellular wireless supported analog mobile phones. This transitioned to Second Generation (2G) digital service, which offered a significant upgrade in capabilities. The Third Generation (3G) supports multi-media, spread-spectrum transmission with larger volumes of data transfer and improved speeds. It enables numerous applications including e-mail and web browsing.

Fourth Generation (4G) takes the capabilities of wireless a step further. 4G increases bandwidth and modulation complexity and adds spatially multiplexed data streams (MIMO). This in turn increases the data rates and enables exciting new services and applications. For example, the key 2G application was voice. 3G brought data services to the market, enabling e-mail and web browsing. 4G applications are still being defined but may include things like streaming video.

Q: Where are we with 3G and the shift to new standards for 4G networks?

A: Major US wireless networks are using 3G specifications, providing users with a noticeable improvement in data speed. 3G allows simultaneous use of voice and data transfers. The speed of a smartphone browser, and the ability to send and receive pictures and larger files, are significant 3G enhancements.

While 4G offers even more capability, there are different approaches to 4G standards. Whenever there are new generations of wireless standards, differing innovations are developed and tend to find their own audiences over time.

The major 4G standards are Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMAX (also known as 802.16m). LTE commitments are the logical extension for organizations whose current systems are UMTS / 3GPP based. LTE is favored by organizations that hold paired frequency spectrum allocations. WiMAX commitments tend to come from organizations that hold unpaired frequency spectrum allocations, although there is significant interest in the time division duplex version of LTE (TD-LTE) here as well.

Regardless of which standard eventually prevails, TriQuint will support new generations of systems to assist all developers as they work towards continuous improvement.

We do this while looking ahead of the current trends in the evolution of wireless.

Q: What exactly are the improvements that make each new Generation?

A: Generation changes in wireless communications generally have to do with both the data rate and architecture of the system infrastructure. It is safe to say that each new generation enables higher data rates, lower latency and new applications relative to the previous one.

One major change is that 4G systems use a packet infrastructure rather than traditional telephone architecture. Since 4G is relatively new, it will still take time for the full extension of the improvements to present themselves.

Q: With the acceptance of 3G and 4G, is the 2G system obsolete?

A: While 2G systems have been surpassed by new generations of wireless, the system remains viable and has a large user base in areas where 3G and 4G systems have not been deployed. It will continue to be important for several years into the future. At some point, it is likely that the 2G spectrum will be refarmed to support newer generations of wireless services.

Q: What are WiMAX, WiFi and LTE technologies? How do they fit into the 4G network?

A: LTE is a cellular communications protocol for 4G networks. LTE is favored by organizations that hold paired frequency spectrum allocations and especially those whose current systems are UMTS / 3GPP based. There is also growing interest in the time domain version of LTE – TD-LTE – for use in unpaired spectrum.

WiMAX is also a communications protocol for 4G networks It is also known as 802.16m and tends to be favored by organizations that hold unpaired frequency allocations.

WiFi is a short-range communications protocol popular for consumer devices and also a familiar term with broad audience recognition. WiFi is best viewed as a supporting protocol that works in conjunction with LTE or WiMAX devices rather than as a competitive technology.

Comparisons and confusion between LTE, WiMAX and WiFi are frequent because all are related to the ability to wirelessly connect and provide Internet access. WiFi generally operates in a home or office building to connect computers, smartphones and other wireless devices.

Q: What are the major design considerations for 4G systems?

A: The most significant changes are new frequency bands that have been opened to support the 4G services. The most well known examples are in the “Digital Dividend” bands where former analog TV channels have been refarmed for 4G services. Other changes are wider bandwidths, more complex modulation and the usage of spatial diversity (MIMO) to improve data rates.

Q: What can we expect in future 5G or 6G systems?

A: The main goals for new generations of wireless service will surely include the ability to handle massive amounts of information without any delay.

Communications will be clearer as they become increasingly error free and reliable no matter where you are. New generations of wireless will have the ability to sort through, identify, send and receive wireless transmissions on ever more crowded airways.

Safety and security, always a concern, will be built deeper into the systems to protect information, provide privacy and integrate all aspects of wireless. Astonishing new applications are always on the horizon. These will need new generations of wireless capabilities that TriQuint research is dedicated to help design and build.

MILCOM 2010 - First Impressions

Although IP communications have been around for many years, interoperable and secure IP systems are now being realized in many military applications. The Warfigther is now being connected with vehicles, UAVs, ships, helicopters and other aircraft so that everyone can share information immediately and there is no single point of failure in the network as they can all act as nodes. This year's theme, "The Next Decade of Military Communications," addresses the issues with connecting various Defense, intelligence and homeland security networks as well as the evolution of communications systems and networks as we move into network-centric operations as the president and CEO, Wanda Austin, of the Aerospace Corporation put it in her welcome letter to attendees.

Although the major players are all here such as Boeing, GD, Raytheon, Harris, NGC, etc. Lockheed Martin seems the most active as they and the Aerospace Corporation were the co-sponsors for the show. They are showing off AMR-JTRS and MONAX 3G broadband network. AMR-JTRS provides a secure mobile network allowing rapid connectivity. JTRS provides communications between Warfighters and AMF provides new IP-enabled waveforms that deliver high data throughput and secure internet capability (to 10 Mbps). As JTRS units are deployed to aircraft, vehicles and Warfighters, they can now form ad hoc networks and seamlessly communicate voice and data. MONAX is designed to bring an affordable, 3G broadband network to Warfighters at the first tactical mile and enables the use of Smartphones and delivers Smartphone data, imagery, video and applications.

Most of the component and test/measurement companies are also here so I will make the rounds today and interview as many of them as I can. I will have a show summary up by the end of the week.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Handset Market is Robust - Some Component Shortages Seen

Good news for cell phone component manufacturers as ABI Reserach reports that the mobile handset market is set for a stellar performance in 2010. 3Q-2010 is up 346.2 million in handset shipments. For the first three quarters of the year, YoY growth has been hovering around 20%. “This is a remarkable feat, irrespective of the rebound effect following the deferred handset purchases during the economic recession,” says Jake Saunders, VP for forecasting at ABI Research. “Layer on ‘smartphone-envy’ and you have a recipe for high handset volumes.”

This rebound is having some interesting consequences:
1) Component manufacturers have never had it so good. Nokia in particular reported a hardware crunch, especially with displays (e.g. AMOLED) and semiconductor components for low-cost handsets. Nokia’s leading market-share in this segment has increased Nokia’s exposure to the component crunch.

2) Vendors that have strong portfolios in smartphones (RIM, Apple, HTC and Motorola) have seen their growth in market-share outperform the market. This effect is likely to continue into 4Q-2010 and 2011.

3) Unless Nokia can resolve its component resourcing challenges, it is likely to be supply-constrained again in 4Q-2010, a quarter that typically equates to 30% of annual handset sales. “Nokia’s market-share could well come under further pressure,” adds Kevin Burden, VP and practice director for mobile devices.

4) Handset vendors with greater in-house ability to source their own components (e.g. Samsung and LG) will be able to take advantage of the market opportunity to expand volumes.

5) Typically a handset boom period is followed by a market softening as customers wait for the next “must have” handset feature innovation to make its way to the market. We should not be unduly worried. There is still considerable room for innovation in the smartphone sector, not just “feature innovation” but also “cost reduction innovation,” which should keep customers keen.

The spotlight has to be put on Apple and RIM: they increased their market-shares to 4.1% and 4% respectively. While Samsung did manage to demonstrate quarterly growth (to 20.6%), other vendors contracted: Nokia (31.9%), LG (8.2%), Sony-Ericsson (3%), Motorola (2.6%).

From a volume point of view, ABI reported that total shipments of mobile handsets are expected to be 1.34 billion by YE-2010 and should maintain their momentum all the way to 2015, which will see more than 1.7 billion in handset shipments.

“The Asia-Pacific region currently makes the largest contribution to global handset sales,” says ABI Research industry analyst Celia Bo. “Handset sales are projected to increase 9% this year compared to 2009, and will account for 38% of total shipments. China is clearly a major source of handset demand, but it is not the only one. India and Indonesia are also expanding their domestic demand.”

The Indian handset market is expected to grow from 84.3 million handsets in 2009 to 104 million in 2010, a Year-over-Year growth of 24%. Similarly, Indonesia is not insignificant. Many of its 240 million people confidently purchased 33 million handsets in 2009 and that figure is expected to surpass 37 million by the end of 2010. Both markets have traditionally been fertile ground for Nokia distributors and dealers. In those markets, the Finnish manufacturer has enjoyed a market-share well above its global average.

Nokia has been very effective in producing ultra-low cost handsets that are robust and user-friendly and at the right price-point. However, Nokia has seen its market-share steadily eroded in the mid- to high tiers as India’s and Indonesia’s aspiring middle classes purchase high-end feature phones and smartphones. Vendors such as Samsung, LG and RIM have been net beneficiaries.

“A number of local handset vendors such as Micromax and Spice Mobile in India, and Nexian and SPC Mobile in Indonesia, are intent on catering to low-end and mid-tier end-users,” notes VP and practice director Kevin Burden. “Their game-plan is to push the envelope on providing increasingly feature-rich handsets at aggressive price-points.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

‘Wireless’ humans could form backbone of new mobile networks

Members of the public could form the backbone of powerful new mobile internet networks by carrying wearable sensors.

According to researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, the novel sensors could create new ultra high bandwidth mobile internet infrastructures and reduce the density of mobile phone base stations.

The engineers from Queen’s renowned Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), are working on a new project based on the rapidly developing science of body centric communications.

Social benefits from the work could include vast improvements in mobile gaming and remote healthcare, along with new precision monitoring of athletes and real-time tactical training in team sports.

The researchers at ECIT are investigating how small sensors carried by members of the public, in items such as next generation smartphones, could communicate with each other to create potentially vast body-to-body networks (BBNs).

The new sensors would interact to transmit data, providing ‘anytime, anywhere’ mobile network connectivity.

Dr Simon Cotton (Dr. Cotton wrote the lead story for the MWJ 2010 August Supplement) , from ECIT’s wireless communications research group said: “In the past few years a significant amount of research has been undertaken into antennas and systems designed to share information across the surface of the human body. Until now, however, little work has been done to address the next major challenge which is one of the last frontiers in wireless communication – how that information can be transferred efficiently to an off-body location.

“The availability of body-to-body networks could bring great social benefits, including significant healthcare improvements through the use of bodyworn sensors for the widespread, routine monitoring and treatment of illness away from medical centres. This could greatly reduce the current strain on health budgets and help make the Government’s vision of healthcare at home for the elderly a reality.

“If the idea takes off, BBNs could also lead to a reduction in the number of base stations needed to service mobile phone users, particularly in areas of high population density. This could help to alleviate public perceptions of adverse health associated with current networks and be more environmentally friendly due to the much lower power levels required for operation.”

Dr Cotton has been awarded a prestigious joint five-year Research Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) to examine how the new technology can be harnessed to become part of everyday life.

He added: “Our work at Queen’s involves collaborating with national and international academic, industrial and institutional experts to develop a range of models for wireless channels required for body centric communications. These will provide a basis for the development of the antennas, wireless devices and networking standards required to make BBNs a reality.

“Success in this field will not only bring major social benefits it could also bring significant commercial rewards for those involved. Even though the market for wearable wireless sensors is still in its infancy, it is expected to grow to more than 400 million devices annually by 2014.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wireless Charging of Cell Phones Coming to Cars

Car makers are showing their interest in wireless charging as a General Motors executive is chairing a standards effort that hopes to set interoperability standards for the magnetic induction approach. Toyota and Ford said they also are interested in the technology and the standards effort.

The Consumer Electronics Association is trying to set a baseline for interoperability for chargers using magnetic coupling. One spec will target connections of less than 1 cm from coil to coil while another will address a 2-6 cm distance. The group will also try to define power efficiency and standard nomenclature for different technical approaches. The committee has said they will look at all the technologies that could provide wireless charging such as optical, RF and conductive as well as inductive approaches.

Smartphone apps for car functions and controls are a high priority for car makers now as the activity in this area has taken off quickly. Wireless charging is another point of integration and convenience to smartphone users. Although Toyota did not seem to think it is a high priority at this point, most car makers are working in this direction.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Tablet Could be Your Next Restaurant Menu

Tablets are quickly being adopted for many applications in business. I see real estate agents and contractors carrying them around to show clients information or take notes about a project. Now a new startup, E La Carte, is developing a new tablet-like computer for use in restaurants as a digital menu and ordering device. E La Carte is just one company trying to apply technology to help restaurants operate more efficiently and profitably while making customers happier. The company’s system is currently being tested at various Uno Chicago Grill locations.

E La Carte’s technology could help solve some restaurant frustrations and might get customers to spend a more. Customers can review the menu using a touchscreen tablet device and place their order when they are ready as the device is connected to the restaurant’s existing cash register system via Wi-Fi. There are also games and trivia to entertain you while waiting plus it offers functions such restaurant feedback, splitting the bill among several people, figuring out the tip, and paying via credit card. Being able to order and pay the bill when you are ready rather than waiting for the waiter/waitress to come by seems like a big advantage to the system and maybe you will order an extra beer since you can just press a button. Games and other entertainment applications can also keep kids occupied while waiting for the food.

There are other competing technologies that might come directly from the point of sale companies and probably more likely, just using your smartphone to perform the same function. Only time will tell which technology will work out. What do you think?

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Look at Antenna Tower Field Repair

If you think working in an office or a lab is tough, imagine repairing equipment on top of an antenna tower at over 1,700 feet. This video is making its way around facebook and is certainly not for people who are afraid of heights. As impressive as the hardware is, operating outdoors under extreme environmental conditions, I must express equal respect for the linemen who service these towers.

Test and measurement vendors have been producing a number of handheld instruments designed to make their jobs easier and safer. I just can't imagine operating a VNA or spectrum analyzer from that height when all I'd want to do is hang on for dear life.

Watch Video>>

Google on Pace to Top $1 billon in Mobile Revenue

Google’s increasing focus on mobile was addressed in its financial results announcement last night. Google said it is seeing very strong growth in emerging businesses like mobile, with Jonathan Rosenberg, senior VP of product management, noting that Google is on pace to generate more than $1 billion in annual mobile search and display revenue. Rosenburg cited an interesting example of mobile ads that are working well, telling analysts on a conference call to do a search for ‘car rental’ on their phones. There's a "very good chance you'll see enterprise rental car ad," with a phone number and map to the nearest location, he commented.

CEO Eric Schmidt outlined Google’s objectives with Android. In response to Wall Street analysts asking about whether Google is making money as it just gives away the operating systems to handsets makers, Schmidt said that this strategy is Google's preferred model. Handset makers and operators are going to make money from selling the phones, while Google will generate cash from having its services on that platform. Rosenburg said that mobile search queries have increased 500 percent over the past two years, Schmidt added that the money in mobile search is eventually going to surpass that on PCs, creating a huge revenue stream.

Wow, we are really going mobile these days and Google will be where ever we are! Microsoft is trying but do you think any company can give Google a run for their money in search?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Addressing Smartphone Interference with your Alarm Clock

It happens in my house late and night or early in the morning, when I forget to turn off my Blackberry and the stream of incoming e-mail spams lead to pick-up with the audio portion of my clock radio, setting off an annoying buzz. It is highly likely that most of us have been in meetings, on conference calls or even watching television and have been victims of “the buzz” - that awful annoying feedback emitted from mobile devices when they are in close proximity to audio devices.

That annoying buzz occurs when an electrical audio device amplifies a cell phone radio signal. The buzzing problem is so common because 80 percent of the world's cell phones rely on GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) technology. GSM phones transmit at a pulse rate that, when picked up and converted by a speaker in an audio device, is transmitted as audio noise – that annoying buzz.

The Buzz Killer Card, a new, easy-to-use cell phone accessory that eliminates buzzing interference that audio devices – such as conference call speakerphones, desktop lines, desktop speakers, baby monitors, and clock radios – pick up (and buzz!) when a mobile device is nearby.The Card, which is slightly larger than a standard cell phone, is designed with a proprietary, patent-pending alloy technology that neutralizes cell phone radio interference.

"Driven absolutely crazy alongside millions of other cell phone owners, we were determined to find a solution – once and for all – to the buzz problem," said Stephen Mellert, Chief Executive Officer of The Buzz Killers. "We conducted months and months of in-depth research on cell phone transmission frequencies and a range of trials, and errors, on various materials until we arrived at the perfect solution."

The Buzz Killer Card users simply need to place their cell phone on the Card to eliminate the interference. Like a mouse-pad for your phone, the Buzz Killer Card can be used virtually anywhere including meeting rooms with conference phones, offices and cubicles, trading desks, home offices, cars, audio studios, baby nurseries, etc.

The Buzz Killer Card manufacturers claim that businesses have found that the Buzz Killer Card's customizable design provides a perfect platform for customer-directed corporate marketing and branding, making it an ideal corporate give-away for conference events and exhibitions. Businesses using the Buzz Killer Card, have described it as an ideal marketing tool that provides a great "ice breaker" moment that creates a bond between presenter and recipient.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

EuMW Exhibition 2010: from A to Z

A is for agnostic nonlinear model support, the leading news from AWR in support of the Cardiff models, the latest S-functions from NMDG and X-parameters from Agilent

B is for broadband time delays product line from Hittite, a DC to 24 GHz analog time delay that supports data transmission to 32 Gbps or clock signal delay up to 24 GHz.

C is for cross correlation Phase Noise analyzers from Holzworth for either fixed or tunable DUT test frequencies.

D is for distortion, an increasing concern highlighted by the importance of IM levels and a driving factor behind Creowave’s announcement that they have developed low PIM filtering solutions to measure the performance of base stations.

E is for EADS Defence & Security making the name change to Cassidian, just in time for their presentation at the Defence/Security Executive Forum

F is for FE-BI (finite element boundary integral) hybrid solver from Ansoft, details to follow in the months to come.

G is for GaN which made an appearance with numerous vendors from RFHIC (1 KW PA) to ACCEL-RF (GaN life test systems)

H is for High purity alumina ceramics with excellent electrical insulation, chemical resistance and low dielectric constant introduced by Brush Ceramic Products, Inc.

I is for ICEbreaker, the newest nonlinear device modeling software tool, free from NMDG

J is for jitter analysis, made easier by the new “C” series of Tektronix AWG instruments which reduce waveform creation times by 45 percent compared to prior AWG instruments, targeting high-speed serial and wideband RF/microwave designs.

K is for K-band MMIC design, getting a boost with the new optical .15 um PHEMT process from TriQuint’s foundry.

L is for Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) QFN, air cavity packages that support finer lead pitches, thinner lead frames and shorter wire bond lengths in a near hermetic, ROHS-compliant solution from RJR Polymers

M is for mixed-signal active load-pull from Anteverta, featured in our September issue and on display at their stand within the Agilent partners’ pavilion

N is for NEL Frequency Controls Inc.’s latest ultra low phase noise OCXO at 100 MHz with close-in phase noise of -105 dBc/Hz at 10 Hz and -178 dBc/Hz phase noise on the floor.

O is for output powers of 600 W UHF RF power from NXP’s BLF888A LDMOS device targeting broadcast transmitters and industrial applications, reported to be the most powerful LDMOS broadcast transistor in the market to date.

P is for Precision Devices which announced an ultra low noise and ultra stable crystal oscillator with a phase noise floor of -168 dBc at 10 kHz and excellent stability at a precision of only 0.0002 ppm (or 0.2 ppb – parts per billion) over a temperature range of 0 to +70°C or 0.0005 ppm at -20° to +70°C.

Q is for quality factor, a critical measure of passive device electrical performance and a differentiator for Dielectric Labs’ High-Q capacitor series.

R is for the Russian microwave market, represented by Pluton, manufacturers of frequency-agile magnetrons.

S is for small, as in the industry’s first PXI VNA from National Instruments

T is for the TWT based on a mini-helix technology being launched by e2v

U is for universal oscilloscopes from Rohde & Schwarz with 500 MHz bandwidth, 5 Gsample per second and a memory depth of up to 8 Msample make them ideal for testing and debugging analog and digital circuits with low clock rates.

V is for Vector signal analysis software from Agilent to assist R&D engineers performing signal and modulation analysis

W is for Wall, as in A.T. Wall, manufacturer of seamless tubing and high-speed stamping and proud sponsor of the Defense/Security Executive Forum at EuMW

X is for X-band core chips from M/A-Com Tech Asia, highly-integrated core chips that provide high-levels of functionality to greatly simplify the design of T/R modules.

Y is for yield analysis in Microwave Studio from CST is based on evaluating the s-parameter dependencies on various model parameters on the basis of one simulation without restarting the full-wave simulation, thus offering users a considerable speed-up.

Z is for Z-Communications, manufacturers of VCOs and PLLs announced a new line of waveguide solutions including full-band waveguide-to-coax-adapters along with precision, low powered waveguide terminations covering 5 GHz to 40 GHz.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

EuMW 2010 Exhibition Report: The lay of the land

European Microwave Week was held in the CNIT convention center in the newer business center that lies to the west of the city’s center, a straight shot down Rue Charles de Galle, about three and a half miles from the Arc de Triomphe. The Center of New Industries and Technologies, or CNIT, is one of the first buildings to ever be constructed in La Défense, Paris. It is a palace for the French Congress that houses the main offices and also functions as a convenience store for the congressmen and their visitors. The initial construction of CNIT was completed in 1958 and the conference and exhibition center provides a unique and interactive place for people to meet and exchange information.

The CNIT is in the plaza at La Defense, which is also home to the Grande Arche - a modern take on the Arc de Triomphe.

CNIT Paris is the biggest conference and exhibition center in Europe, containing more than 3 Amphitheatres, 21 adaptable rooms, and has over 17,000 square meters of exhibition area. The exhibition, which opened Tuesday, was in the lower regions of the convention center and the relatively low ceiling either gave the show an intimate or claustrophobic feel, depending on one’s perspective.

Without the usual signs draped from the ceiling above the larger exhibition booths, attendees were forced to navigate the space at the floor level, changing the scale of the entire show - for better or worse. Finding certain exhibitors may have been harder in some cases, but the layout may also have helped force attendees to be more aware of their surroundings and discover vendors they might otherwise have breezed by.

The entrance to the exhibition space was dominated by test and measurement equipment vendors – Agilent, Rohde & Schwarz and Anritsu. Agilent commanded the front of the exhibition hall with an impressive stand filled with no less than eight demo stations, meeting room and a half dozen additional demo stations for partnering companies including Maury Microwave, AMCAD, Anteverta Microwave and SATIMO.

Adjacent to Agilent was the European T&M home team of Rohde & Schwarz, also displaying the latest in their test solutions. Stage left of R&S was Anritsu, a manufacturer which has had a flurry of new product releases over the past several months, much of which was on display for the first time at EumW. Anyone shopping for test equipment could easily spend their time in this one area of the trade show.

The staff at National Instruments proudly show off their new PXIe-1082 which can be configured into a small but fast (400usec/pt) multi-channel VNA (10 MHz to 6 GHz), targeting autotest applications.

Greeting visitors beyond the test and measurement equipment were the majority of software vendors CST, AWR, Ansys (Anosft), Mician, Sonnet, National Instruments and MIG to name a few. Slightly deeper into the heart of the exhibition floor, the types of vendors quickly diversified to the Integrated Device Manufacturers (TriQuint, M/A-Com, Analog Devices, Hittite, NXP and Mitsubishi), passive components, cable, connector manufacturers and material suppliers. One could also find other peripheral test products from VTD, NMDG and Tektronix/Mesuro’s non-linear characterization test equipment and software to turn-key life test solutions from Accel-RF. The complete list of vendors is available on the European Microwave Week web site ( and Richard Mumford, our international editor and I will be posting our reports on meeting with various vendors over the next week.

While the floor traffic was not exceptionally crowded, it was respectable and constant. In conversations with exhibitors, most were happy with the quality of people they met at the show and many of them were either closing deals or making worthy new contacts. While many exhibitors were not introducing new products explicitly for this event, many had new products that had never been seen by this show’s attendees. Combined with a “better than last year” economic outlook, most exhibitors were poised for growth… and even vocal about it. That is certainly a 180 degree turn around from 2008, when the crisis had just hit and no one knew what the future had in store.

SV Microwave shows off its connector wares to a fellow exhibitor

With the conferences on a separate floor, it was not immediately apparent how many delegates managed to get over to the exhibition. The conference organizers did promote the exhibition to delegates during the plenary session and with few complaints from exhibitors, I am assuming most ventured into the exhibition at some point during the week. To summarize, the general feel of the show, it was upbeat if not giddy and the majority of vendors will likely go to next years' show in Manchester UK. All in all, I would say this year's event "got the intended job done".
Tom Arthur of Valpey Fisher poises for the press alongside a EumW delegate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TriQuint's New 0.15um PHEMT Unveiled at EumW

Last evening I attended TriQuint’s customer presentation on their new TQP15 process, which was conveniently held at the hotel where I am staying. Enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, wine and canapés were two dozen or so representatives of MMIC design houses such as Plextek and Roke Manor, journalist, investors and other interested parties. Following the meet and greet with various TriQuint foundry management and marketing folks, the event centered around a presentation by Corey Nevers and Ed Knapp on the technical aspects and targeted applications of the new process. This presentation was followed by an informative Q&A session with attendees.

TQP15 is based on TriQuint’s well-established Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (pHEMT) process portfolio and represents both and evolutionary step in their technical development as well as stable technology built on well-established process techniques. This is the best of both worlds – new capabilities based on trusted and proven tools. At the heart of the processing breakthrough that supports the 0.15um gates is the TQP15 utilization of optical lithography (based on their i-line stepper) to reduce cost when compared to traditional E-beam based solutions. The process also incorporates refractory gate metal architecture which does not exhibit the standard metal gate sinking failure mechanism of non-refractory gate pHEMT processes. The TQP15 is targeting at the Ka-band segment and is designed for cost-effectively building millimeter wave (mmWave) MMICs for applications such as VSAT, satellite communications and point to point radios.

TQP15 offers an economical high-frequency pHEMT process designed for high volume runs. The company claims to have already produced thousands of wafers. The company has successfully used TQP15 for high efficiency amplifiers and control functions up to K-band frequencies, and look forward to using this process to grow our product portfolio through Ka band. Performance highlights include a power density of 740 mw/mm at 24 GHz with over 50% PAE, which hit a maximum at P1db rather than the typical 3 db into compression. This means optimum PAE can be achieved at lower drive levels than most common PHEMT devices. They demonstrated 10 db MSG as well as usable gain up to 50 db.

The transistors have a 14 v breakdown, Idss of 380 mw/mm, noise figure of 0.6 db at 15 GHZ (and low sensitivity between source matching impedance and optimum noise figure), Of note for reference designs was a 40 GHz 3 stage power amplifier developed as a demonstration of capabilities. Adding TQP15 solidifies Triquint position as a technology leader of HBT, E-beam and optical pHEMT technologies. Together with their other fully released optical pHEMT technologies, TQPED and TQP13-N, and the soon to be released TQP25 process, TriQuint is focused on enabling the commercialization of mmWave markets, said Mike Peters, Director of Marketing for Commercial Foundry at TriQuint. This was certainly believable from the information presented and positive audience reaction.

Monday, September 27, 2010

EumW Conference Starts, Exhibition Set-up for Tuesday Opening

Delegates were busy registering and attending the Monday sessions today as work crews unpacked displays and began building the stands for the 2010 exhibition. By mid-morning set-ups were progressing without much drama, in anticipation of the Tuesday opening.

Since there are an impressive number of European Microwave companies engaged in nonlinear device characterization and the development of related test systems, it is appropriate that the European Microwave Week exhibition will feature a sizable representation of companies offering load-pull and related test solutions. Several of these companies were mentioned in last March’s cover story on non-linear Characterization and device modeling including Mesuro, NMDG, AMCAD and Verspecht-Teyssier-DeGroote. Each of these companies has developed the test systems and software for measuring transistor behavior under large signal conditions and generating compact or behavioral models, such as the Cardiff or poly-harmonic distortion (PHD) models. North American companies such as Maury Microwave of California and Focus Microwave of Canada will also be at the show along with the major test equipment vendors that these specialized partner with (i.e. Agilent, Rohde & Schwarz and Anritsu).

And so, just in time for the exhibition, NMDG has just announced the release of their new ICEBreaker application, which provides comprehensive visualization of measurement data sets. This application, which is free, can be upgraded to perform generic sweep plans such as DC, power and/or loadpull sweeps, and to collect measurement data in an accurate way. In addition, the company announced that nonlinear characterization under pulsed DC and pulsed RF conditions is now available in the NMDG ICE software platform, implemented to work with different types of receivers and pulsers.NMDG will be presenting live demos of the NM600 Fast Source and Load Pull under pulsed conditions and of the S-functions model extraction under mismatched conditions using the NM300 ZVxPlus solution this week at Rohde & Schwarz Booth #70 during the conference.

Suede was a bad idea

It is hard to complain about location when the European Microwave Week makes its way to Paris once every half dozen years or so. It is a beautiful city. To quote an e-mail received from a M/A-Com attendee – “ PS - I love Paris!!!!”. I might take fault with, which predicted sunny days in the mid-sixties. Instead, the air is about 10 degrees cooler and the skies look threatening. Bringing my suede jacket was probably a mistake. Regardless, fall is a great time to be in the land of Coulomb and Ampére.

I took the Saturday night red eye from Boston along with MWJ publisher, Carl Sheffres (seen here overlooking the city). We spotted at least one microwave luminary, Rich Jerome on the plane with us. Several others were already standing around the hotel lobby as we checked in near the convention center. Microwave Journal’s parent company, Horizon House had already sent most of its exhibition support team half a week in advance, to begin preparations for the show taking place at the CNIT La Defense convention center. For us non-smokers, check-in would have to wait and so it was a quick fueling up of double espressos in the lobby and off to the train in order to catch some Sunday sightseeing, my only free day this week.

My schedule looks pretty full with meetings throughout the week, specifically with the test & measurement manufacturers – Rohde & Schwarz, Anritsu, Tektronix and Agilent (whom I already had a pre-show press briefing); a number of smaller nonlinear characterization companies, i.e. load pull including Maury Microwave, Focus, AMCAD, VTD, NMDG; integrated device manufacturers such as TriQuint, M/A-Com, and Analog Devices and software suppliers – AWR, Ansoft, CST and Sonnet.
I am looking forward to meeting some individuals face to face, whom I have only corresponded with via e-mail. One such company is SATIMO. They participated in our successful August issue – “The Masters of MIMO”, contributing an online white paper for the TestBench feature that month as well as our Expert Advice column. SATIMO calls Paris their home and so it is fitting that I open my Paris EumW blogging with a brief look at this local company.
Here's a brief look at the company. SATIMO SA (Société d’Applications Technologiques de l’Imagerie Micro-Onde SA) was founded in 1986 with the objective of developing high-speed microwave field measurement systems. The company started as a spin-off from the French engineering school Supélec, benefiting from years of research in the field of the Modulated Scatterer Technique.

During its first ten years, SATIMO performed research and prototyping of antennas, antenna measurement systems, non-destructive testing equipment, and tomographic imaging systems. SATIMO was entirely focused on the French Market and relied only on few customers. The founder, Prof. Jean-Charles Bolomey, decided to drastically change this situation by naming Philippe Garreau as the C.E.O. of SATIMO.

Au revoir for now. If you’re heading to the show, dress warm and pack an umbrella, just in case. And don’t forgot to sign up for the MWJ/Euma European Defence Executive Forum for Wednesday early evening. This should be an informative set of presentations and worthwhile networking opportunity.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

TV White Spaces Spectrum Freed Up by FCC

The Federal Communications Commission has freed up vacant airwaves between TV channels -- called “white spaces” -- to unleash a host of new technologies, such as “super Wi-Fi,” and myriad other diverse applications. This is the first significant block of spectrum made available for unlicensed use in more than 20 years.

TV white space spectrum is considered prime real estate because the 300 - 400 MHz signal travel long distances well and penetrate walls, making it ideally suited for mobile wireless devices. The National Broadband Plan noted the importance of unlicensed spectrum in creating opportunities for new technologies to blossom and recommended that the Commission complete the TV white spaces. The Second Memorandum Opinion and Order (Second MO&O) adopted 9/23 resolves numerous legal and technical issues. Notably, the Order eliminates the requirement that TV bands devices that incorporate geo-location and database access must also include sensing technology to detect the signals of TV stations and low-power auxiliary service stations (wireless microphones).

It also requires wireless microphone users who seek to register in the TV bands databases to certify that they will use all available channels from 7 through 51 prior to requesting registration. Requests to register in the database will be public, thus allowing interested parties to weigh in on any given request.

The Commission is also taking steps to ensure that incumbent services are protected from interference from the use of white spaces in various ways. In particular, the Order reserves two vacant UHF channels for wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary service devices in all areas of the country. It also maintains a reasonable separation distance between TV White Space device and wireless microphone usage permitted to be registered in the database.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has called the new wireless broadband services that could eventually operate over this spectrum "Wi-Fi on steroids." Wi-Fi uses unlicensed spectrum that was opened up by the FCC in 1985, which was the last time the FCC allocated unlicensed spectrum. This high-frequency spectrum was originally used for cordless phones and garage door openers, but the spectrum later found broader use in high speed, in-home Internet connectivity via Wi-Fi.

Chairman Genachowski is optimistic that the new unlicensed spectrum will help create a robust ecosystem, such as the one that has developed around Wi-Fi. "This new unlicensed spectrum will be a powerful platform for innovation," Genachowski said. "When we unleash American ingenuity, great things happen."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

EuMW 2010 Show Coverage

Our EuMW 2010 show coverage is now available online. We will bring you the latest news, new products, photos, videos, exclusive articles and interviews plus live Blogging and Twittering from the show floor. We also have started our EuMW newsletters which will be daily during the show. Don't miss our Defence/Security Executive Forum at the show featuring speakers from NATO, the European Defence Agency and the French Defence Agency, among others, discussing future programs and technology for microwave applications.

In addition, the Sept issue dedicated to EuMW 2010 is also online now including conference articles, messages from the chairs, exhibitor list, new products and our cover feature about the Handset RF front-end market.

Let us know what you are featuring at the show in the comments below. Hope to see you in Paris!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

ABI Reports Nearly 59 Million Mobile WiMAX Subscribers in 2015

According to new projections from ABI Research, the number of subscribers to mobile WiMAX services will approach 59 million in 2015. That represents a positive forecast in light of recent economic conditions, although research analyst Xavier Ortiz notes, “WiMAX’s growth has not been as early or as strong as many would have hoped several years ago.”

The factors impeding WiMAX’s growth haven’t been technological, he says, but economic and psychological: “The recession certainly played a role, making investors wary and delaying some deployments. On top of that, delays in the formation of the new Clearwire have constrained the rest of the ecosystem to some degree, from subscribers to devices and chipsets.”Subscriber growth and base station shipments go hand in hand, and despite uncertainty among many operators as to which mobile 4G platform – WiMAX or TD-LTE – to choose, ABI Research’s forecasts see WiMAX base station shipments continuing to grow (albeit at a slowing pace) through the current 2015 forecast period.

Ortiz adds, “Depending on the particular vendor, much of the hardware in a WiMAX base station may be re-usable for TD-LTE. Service providers adopting WiMAX but interested in upgrading their networks have been choosing those infrastructure vendors that can offer the options of staying with WiMAX (moving towards 802.16m) or moving towards TD-LTE. This creates a sense of reassurance for service providers.”

The lion’s share of the market for WiMAX base stations during 2009 was divided between four major vendors. In terms of market share Alvarion is the leader, followed quite closely by Samsung. NSN (through acquisition of Motorola’s wireless networks business) and Huawei hold third and fourth place shares, followed by ZTE and NEC at fifth and sixth place. The remainder of the market is shared among “Other” smaller vendors.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ford First to Use Wi-Fi to Auto Program Cars During Assembly

I found this very interesting that Ford is reported to be the first auto company to use Wi-Fi on the assembly line to wirelessly deliver SYNC software to vehicles equipped with the new MyFord Touch driver technology. The new on-the-assembly-line Wi-Fi capability eliminates the need for building, stocking and storing multiple SYNC hardware modules, thus reducing manufacturing complexity and saving cost.

“Using wireless software installation via Wi-Fi, we can stock just one type of SYNC module powering MyFord Touch and loaded with a basic software package,” explained Sukhwinder Wadhwa, SYNC global platform manager. “We eliminated approximately 90 unique part numbers, each of which would have to be updated every time a change is made – this system really boosts quality control.”

Previously, Ford announced that the next-generation SYNC system that powers MyFord Touch would feature a built-in Wi-Fi receiver. Now, Ford is further capitalizing on capability using it in manufacturing but there are many of things they can do with it.

The Oakville, Ontario, assembly line that produces the all-new 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX will be the first to feature wireless access points for software installation. So the Edge and MKX will become the first vehicles to get their infotainment software installed via Wi-Fi while moving down the line. Ford is also targeting Chicago Assembly Plant, which is building the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer, for Wi-Fi installation capabilities. Plant locations throughout the world that will support the 2012 Ford Focus launch will soon follow.

Through July, hundreds of pilot vehicles were successfully moving through the Wi-Fi access point at Oakville. “Employees at the Oakville assembly plant helped us tremendously in getting the Wi-Fi process to work, and work perfectly,” said Wadhwa. “Turning an assembly plant – with steel beams everywhere and high-voltage cabling throughout; everything you could imagine that would interfere with a radio signal – into an access point that would achieve 100 percent success was a huge challenge.

What will they do with it next?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shipments of Short Range ICs Will Increase 20% in 2010

According to ABI Research, the market for short range wireless ICs is forecast to expand this year; total shipments of Bluetooth, NFC, UWB, 802.15.4 and Wi-Fi ICs will increase approximately 20% compared to 2009. “Bluetooth ICs still lead the short-range wireless IC market,” says ABI Research industry analyst Celia Bo. “Unit shipments are expected to exceed 58% of the total short-range wireless IC shipments in 2010. Wi-Fi ICs rank second place in this market, making up approximately 35% of the total shipments, with the rest of the shipments accounted for by NFC, UWB and 502.15.4 ICs.”

Cellular handsets and accessories are taking a significant portion of the market for Bluetooth-enabled products in 2010, accounting for almost 75% of total shipments. This is followed by the notebook and UMD segments, taking approximately 12%. The demand for Bluetooth-enabled consumer electronic and home entertainment products is expected to grow steadily over the next five years. Shipments of portable media players are forecast to grow tenfold in 2015 as compared to 2010, and the total shipments of networked game consoles and handheld game consoles are expected to show a 14% CAGR between 2010 and 2015.

Bo adds, “Combination chip solutions that integrate two or more short-range wireless technologies will be broadly deployed in hundreds of millions of electronic devices due to their advantages of lower cost and smaller chip size, paving the way for expansion of the short-range wireless IC market.”

The Bluetooth+FM radio integration solution is taking the highest market share among the major integration solutions of “combo” chips today, followed by Bluetooth+Wi-Fi+FM radio and Bluetooth+FM radio+GPS solutions. Bluetooth’s integration with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless technology will be adopted widely from next year and is projected to account for more than 50% of total Bluetooth combo IC shipments in 2015.

ABI also reported that shipments of “combo” chipsets for mobile devices that gather a variety of connectivity types in one small package are expected to approach 280 million worldwide by the end of 2010. Integrating different radio technologies such as FM, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS on a single chip may sometimes involve performance compromises, but saves money, space and power. ABI Research forecasts that more than 979 million such chipsets will ship in 2015.

These forecasts bode well for the wireless industry. Hopefully, they will be on target or better.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SA Says 400 Million Connected Convergent Devices in 2014

The Connected Convergent Devices (CCDs) market will claim a global installed base of over 400 million units by 2014, according to research just released by analyst firm Strategy Analytics. The report, “Connected Convergent Devices: The New Battleground,” envisions CCDs filling the gap between smartphones and netbooks—a gap that is ripe for growth.

The firm estimates the value of the CCD market will exceed $50 billion in 2014. Some cannibalization is inevitable, according to the report, particularly among the tablets, netbooks, eBook readers and Mobile Internet devices (MIDs) categories.“ All categories have the potential to be very disruptive,” said Peter King, Director of the Connected Home Device service at Strategy Analytics. “However, all have their place in the market, and as casual computing develops, new products such as the tablet can be additive to the market as well as cannibalistic”.

CE, Mobile and PC companies are vying for the consumer wallet with a variety of Connected Convergent Devices, including tablets, netbooks, smartbooks, eBook readers and MIDs. “We have recently witnessed price erosion and product withdrawals in the eBook reader market, and the netbook market growth has slowed down since the introduction of the Apple iPad,” added King. “As rival tablets hit the market by year-end, many driven by Google’s Android, we will see even more competition in this dynamic new market segment.”

This sounds reasonable as these devices have come down drastically in price. With the Kindle now at $139, I am tempted to buy one. If it was over $300 like the original devices, I might as well buy an iPad or netbook and get a device the does several functions.