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IMS 2018 Celebrates New Tech While Remembering the Old

July 3, 2018
The 2018 IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS) showcased the industry’s latest innovations, and offered vignettes of its past achievements.

One takeaway from this year’s IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS), held June 10-15 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, was how much the RF/microwave industry has changed over the years. Those who have been in this industry much longer than myself (like my colleague Jack Browne) can bear witness to that. Now that wireless technology is essentially a fundamental part of our lives, the impact that this industry has on society cannot be overlooked. And with ever-hyped 5G communications on the horizon, the industry pushes onward with new innovations.

At IMS, 5G was at the center of much of the action. 5G technology was associated with anything and everything, including test-and-measurement equipment, design software, components, and interconnect products. 5G does seem to be more of a reality now in comparison to last year’s IMS, as sub-6-GHz 5G deployments appear to be imminent.

Of course, sub-6-GHz frequencies only represent part of the 5G landscape. As many already know, millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequencies are also expected to play a key role. However, most agree that mmWave 5G deployments are still probably a couple years away.

High-power gallium-nitride (GaN) technology was also on display at IMS. And though companies are achieving enormous amounts of power with GaN, some say that its full potential has yet to be reached. And getting back to 5G, what role will GaN have there? Will GaN devices appear in 5G handsets? We will see how that all plays out. Furthermore, while GaN does seem to get all the attention, LDMOS technology is still alive and well.

Speaking of high-power applications, RF energy also had a presence at IMS. One company even introduced a connector dedicated to RF energy applications. Stay tuned for more on this front.

In addition to myriad innovations on hand, IMS 2018 celebrated the history of the RF/microwave industry. For example, Rohde & Schwarz displayed a vintage network analyzer from 1950. And a mini-exhibition showcased the industry’s past by displaying systems, components, and more from decades ago, such as the BC-1068 IFF receiver (see photo). In the end, IMS demonstrated that the RF/microwave industry is one that should be recognized for its past and present technology, as well as for what is expected to come.