Honolulu will be the glorious site for the 2017 IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS), the RF/microwave industry’s largest annual gathering. It is an industry facing several changes: an aging workforce; a need for new business models for high-volume, lower-priced markets like IoT and 5G; and a need to evolve some existing technologies, such as circuits and components at millimeter-wave frequencies, to compete in many growing markets being fueled by higher frequencies.
Amidst the changes, measurements must always be made—now at higher frequencies—and the 2017 IMS is truly a one-stop opportunity to catch up on the latest test gear and measurement technologies.
Beautiful as Honolulu is, not all of the RF/microwave industry’s top companies will be making the long trip. Some of the leading component suppliers (such as Mini-Circuits and Synergy Microwave Corp.), and at least one of the top instrument makers (Tektronix) will not be in attendance. But the exhibition will nonetheless be stocked with items of interest, especially in the area of test-and-measurement equipment and software.
Much recent attention given to the promise of 5G wireless communications networks has focused on the higher-frequency portions of those networks, at millimeter-wave frequencies. The 2017 IMS exhibition floor will have its share of test gear that can generate and analyzer signals above 30 GHz. For example, Anritsu Co. (Booth 1116) will show its VectorStar ME7838A system for swept-frequency VNA measurements from 70 kHz to 110 GHz and its Spectrum Master MS2760A portable spectrum analyzer, with a high end of 110 GHz.
The show floor will be a great opportunity to try out traditional benchtop and rack-mount instruments from many of the leading suppliers, as well as some of the new generation of USB-powered test equipment from upstart test-equipment suppliers such as Copper Mountain Technologies (Booth 1940) and Signal Hound (Booth 1439). The former will feature its low-cost USB-driven VNAs, while the latter will show its economical USB-powered signal generators and analyzers.
In addition to the new “test toys,” the 2017 IMS is also home to one of this industry’s top gatherings of measurement professionals, the 89th Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG) meeting. Scheduled for June 9th, this conference has a theme of “Advanced Technologies for Communications,” and features a technical program of presentations organized by the inimitable Nick Ridler from the National Physical Laboratory.
In keeping with the “ride the 5G wave” of the main 2017 IMS conference, the 89th ARFTG will include several presentations on the technologies related to 5G and IoT markets, as well as the types of measurement that will be needed in support of those technologies. But, as is its tradition, ARFTG has always been more than just keeping up with the latest trends. The upcoming edition is quite forward-looking with some of its presentations, including talks on the measurement needs for emerging nanomaterials and terahertz (THz) devices.
The conference also includes measurement-based presentations on several of the technologies that are sure to impact the effectiveness of emerging 5G wireless networks, such as software-defined radios (SDRs), cognitive radios, and multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antenna arrays. The ARFTG measurement conference also includes presentations on measurements in support of nonlinear device modeling, and practical methods for making millimeter-wave measurements.
If the quality of the ARFTG measurement conference is not enough to convince visitors to the 2017 IMS conference and exhibition to stay one more day in Honolulu, the ARFTG even also hosts a small exhibition area. While easily no comparison to the huge show floor of the 2017 IMS, the ARFTG exhibition area has long been a comfortable locale for meeting top engineers at some of the leading test-and-measurement companies, and for learning more about some quite specialized measurements.