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.