From The Editor | June 22, 2011

IMS2011: Day 3 Technology Report


By Ron Grunsby and Jim Pomager

We conclude our coverage of the IMS2011 exhibition with our rundown of the advanced technologies we saw on Thursday, and we look forward to reporting on the next generation of RF/microwave products from IMS2012 in Montreal next year!

See also our IMS2011 Day 1 and Day 2 technology reports.

Anaren announced a new line of Xinger subminiature directional couplers during IMS2011. With a footprint of only 2.0 x 1.25 x 0.7 mm (0805) and optimized for GSM, CDMA, Wi-Fi, LTE, UMTS, WiMAX, and Bluetooth, these new devices are ideal for low-power applications in wireless infrastructure and consumer electronics. The eight directional couplers in the series cover frequency bands from 0.7 to 6 GHz. Anaren also displayed its new line of Xinger-III surface-mount Doherty combiners for wireless amplifiers. At 6.35 x 5.08 mm (P-size) or 14.2 x 5.08 mm (E-size), these combiners are some 90% smaller than traditional printed Doherty solutions; models are available covering 600 to 2700 MHz.

Arlon Materials for Electronics
Arlon Materials for Electronics showcased the GenClad 280 Bond-Ply and the MultiClad HF. The GenClad 280 Bond-Ply is a new, proprietary woven-fiberglass-reinforced, ceramic-filled composite material engineered for excellent cost/performance efficiency in multilayer RF and high-frequency printed circuit boards. It offers next-generation electrical performance that is as good as the electrical performance of traditional PTFE laminate systems but allows designers to cost-effectively use multilayer designs. The MultiClad HF is a new halogen-free low-loss system that is an advancement in low-loss multilayerable thermoset laminate and prepreg systems for microwave and high-frequency printed circuit boards. This multipurpose PWB material technology combines a ceramic-filled low-loss, high-reliability thermoset resin system with a bromine-free flame-retardant system.

Ciao Wireless
Ciao showcased its new Ultra-Broadband Amplifier Series, which includes products that cover frequency ranges as wide as 20 MHz to 20 GHz. These amplifiers feature low noise figures (3.2 dB typical), flat gain response (+/- 1.9 dB typical), VSWR input and output matches of 2.0:1, and internal voltage regulation and reverse polarity protection. As with all amplifiers manufactured by the company, these Ultra-Broadband Amplifiers receive Ciao's 100% Unconditional Stability Testing as part of the standard acceptance test procedure, and are available in one- to two-week delivery times, regardless of quantity or customization.

Cobham presented the company's integrated UAS lightweight gimbal assembly, a compact, dual-axis concentric unit that can be used for multiple applications aboard medium-to-large unmanned aerial systems. The version in this video demo is designed in Ku-band, primarily focused on datalink frequencies, but it can be designed for any frequency. The gimbal assembly includes a flat plate array antenna, a pedestal and yoke for the antenna, the conditioning requirements and software, and an RF electronics box. The full prototype is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Empower RF Systems
Empower RF showcased its Model 1189-BBM3K5KKO, a solid-state 100 W amplifier with a 500- to 2500-MHz frequency range. Utilizing high-power GaN devices, this amplifier is small (7.4” x 3.6” x 1.06”), lightweight (2 lbs.), and suitable for most modulation types. Applications include electronic attack, test and measurement, and communications. The company also displayed Class AB and Doherty designs for next-generation 700-MHz LTE PA modules. These units feature ARM-based/web-addressable control, advanced analog predistortion, and 40 W output power. As technology demonstration platforms, they highlight complex, digital waveform amplification and design for manufacturing.

HXI exhibited a number of products that demonstrate the company's custom millimeter wave system design capabilities. One such system was the GigaLink HD, an FCC-approved 60-GHz radio link developed for Sony to transmit uncompressed, production-quality HD-SDI video signals from an HDTV camera in situations where it is inconvenient or impossible to run a cable. The link performs at 2.970 Gbps (2 x 1.485 Gbps) over distances of >0.5 km, without delay or loss of picture quality. Another example on display was the GigaLink 7451, a 1.25-Gbps E-band radio link for light licensed deployment. This unit operates in the 71- to 76-GHz frequency range and can cover a maximum distance of 5200 m.

JFW Industries
JFW Industries promoted the 50BA-series variable attenuator systems. These plug-and-play modules include Ethernet/RS-232 interfaces and manual control (via momentary lever actuator switches with 7-segment digital display). They are designed to be easy to use, compact, and affordable, are available with one or two channels of attenuation (0 to 63 dB or 0 to 95 dB in 1-dB steps), and operate from .2 to 6 GHz. Impedance is 50 ohms nominal, and the frequency range is 200 to 6000 MHz. Custom designs are available. Click here to view a spec sheet.

Krytar highlighted their new 90-degree quadrature hybrid coupler with applications including monopulse comparators, power combining/dividing, mixers, modulators, and phased array antenna systems. The frequency range of this 4-port unit has been extended from 1.7 to 36 GHz with coupling loss of 3 dB, greater than 12 dB isolation, ±1.7 dB amplitude imbalance, and ±12 degrees of phase imbalance. It shows insertion loss of less than 3.2 dB across the frequency range, maximum VSWR is 1.85, and the power rating is 20 W average and 3 kW peak. Operating temperature ranges from -54°C to 85°C. Click here for a video about the new hybrid coupler.

KVG Quartz Crystal Technology
KVG featured several new products at IMS2011, including the O.60.802658-LF, a 100-MHz OCXO with low phase noise (to -178 dBc/Hz at 1 MHz) and low G sensitivity (<1 x 10-9/g) in a 22 x 25.4 x 13.2 mm SMD package. The new O.30.802729-LF offers comparable performance characteristics to the O.60.802658-LF, but is slightly larger (36.1 x 27.2 x 15 mm) and comes in a hermetically sealed CO8 package. Another OCXO, the 0.60.802936-LF is a 10-MHz unit in a 25.4 x 22 x 15 mm SMD package, with phase noise performance of -180 dBc/Hz at 1 MHz.

Maury Microwave
IMS 2011 represented a fundamental shift in Maury's message to its customers, that it is a solutions-oriented company offering turnkey measurement and modeling device characterization solutions. Highlighting relationships with strategic partners, Maury showcased its PNA-X based patent-pending noise parameter solution, PNA-X based load pull X-Parameter modeling solution, and PNA-X based passive, active, and hybrid active vector-receiver load pull solution with Agilent Technologies; its BILT Pulsed IV Pulsed S-Parameters solution and its IVCAD measurement and modeling software suite with partner AMCAD Engineering; and its patent-pending turnkey Mixed-Signal Active Load Pull solution capable of wideband impedance control for modulated signals (see video). Maury's component division highlighted its noise calibration solutions, including cryogenic terminations, its VNA calibration kits, and its new TactiCal line of coaxial adapters.

Meca Electronics
Meca displayed samples from its extensive line of RF/Microwave components. One product category that was well represented was Meca's power dividers/combiners, which can handle extremely high power, are made in the United States, are competitively priced, and have quick turnaround times. Meca also discussed its integrated assembly capabilities — the company can deliver assemblies that incorporate multiple components, for not much more than the cost of the individual components. Custom designs and private labeling services are also available.

MtronPTI introduced the M9107 Series of OCXO-based GPSDO (global positioning satellite disciplined oscillator) surface-mount (SMT) modules at IMS2011. The new device can be mounted directly onto a PCB without connectors or wiring harnesses, and is only 1” x 1” x 0.5” in size. Another new product from MtronPTI was a UF Series cavity dual band reject filter for LTE, which comes in a waterproof, die-cast housing and enables emergency service responders to cover multiple radio services with a single radio. Finally, there was the XO5084-1588-R Series OCXO for IEEE-1588 Synchronous Ethernet applications, with initial accuracy of -0.5 ppm, overall accuracy of -4.6 ppm, and phase noise down to -150 dBc/Hz at 100 kHz.

Nitronex stood out as about the only GaN device manufacturer at IMS2011 using silicon (Si) rather than silicon carbide (SiC) as its substrate. Swimming against the proverbial tide on this debate, the company steadfastly holds to its claim that GaN on Si is just as rugged and reliable as GaN on SiC, in addition to being both cheaper and thinner. (In its defense, the company has shipped over 500,000 GaN-on-SiC RF semiconductors since it launched in 2006.) Nitronex introduced a new GaN-on-Si product at IMS — a 20- to 1500-MHz, 5 W MMIC module intended for electronic warfare (EW), military communications, avionics, CATV, and other broadband applications. It is input and output matched to 50 ohms and comes in a 4 x 4 mm QFN package.

Norden Millimeter
Norden Millimeter told show attendees that they have designed and are manufacturing a wideband receiver for the electronic intelligence (ELINT) market. The ELINT receiver operates in the 0.5- to 18-GHz frequency band. Its design separates the incoming signal into nine independent frequency bands to minimize the out-of-band spur generation. The receiver has a selectable input attenuator with input blanking and a digital attenuator with EEPROM control. It is housed in an aluminum housing that is 5.7 x 4.2 x .62 inches and is ideal for rack mounting.

Ophir RF
The focus of attention at the Ophir RF booth was the 5232, a 5000 W, solid-state, broadband amplifier covering the frequency range of 140 to 1000 MHz. This new power amplifier utilizes Class A/AB linear power devices and delivers small signal gain of +67 dB (minimum) and input VSWR of 2:1 (maximum) in a 78.6” x 22.1” x 36” cabinet. In addition, the company featured its new 800- to 1000-MHz rack-mount amplifiers for military and commercial applications. They are available in 200, 300, 500, and 1000 W models in 3U, 4U, 5U, and 11U sizes (respectively). Ophir RF can also deliver custom and COTS-adapted amplifiers, on request.

RFHIC introduced a new GaN (gallium nitride) radar pulse amplifier at IMS2011. The RRP2738200-40 is a 2700- to 3800-MHz, 200 W, four-stage amplifier that achieves 40% efficiency and is, according to the company, half the price of competing solutions. RFHIC also conducted demonstrations of the RFUD56-TRM, a C-band transmit/receive module that covers the frequency range of 5400 to 5900 MHz with transmit output power of 70 W and 30% efficiency.

Power conversion specialist SynQor introduced a new ruggedized uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for military and aerospace applications at IMS2011. The new UPS accepts both AC and DC input and delivers 1500 VA/1250 W of continuous output power. Thanks to its lithium polymer battery, the UPS is only 17” x 21.6” x 1.73” (1U) in size — 1/6 the thickness of competing solutions — and weighs only 32 lbs (including battery). SynQor also showcased its Half-Brick Zeta series of Mil-COTS DC/DC converters for the RF power amplifier market. Featuring SynQor's synchronous rectification technology, these converters boast up to 95% efficiency and supply up to 500 W from MIL-STD-704 and MIL-STD-1275 input ranges.