Top Products Of 2008

Dec. 12, 2008
This past year has brought many outstanding products that represent practical, high-performance solutions in the form of software, components, and test equipment.

Great minds think alike in the microwave industry as they do elsewhere. Take, for instance, the plethora of impressive synthesizers that debuted over the past 12 months. These instruments boast the outstanding switching speed, low noise, and broad bandwidths that are required to satisfy everything from automatic test equipment (ATE) to the most stringent military applications. Another theme in 2008 was integration, as many instruments and devices combined functions while shrinking the size of the package. Of course, the microwave industry produces a nearly constant stream of impressive products. These 14 were chosen because of their broad applicability across different application areas. Check out this year's Top Product picks to see where new performance heights were reached, novel capabilities and features were included, or an industry first was made a reality (see table).

Of the long list of frequency synthesizers introduced in 2008, the four chosen here stand out in various performance areas. Anritsu's MG37020A frequency synthesizer tunes from 10 MHz to 20 GHz with frequency switching speed of 100 s/point (January cover, p. 97). To achieve this speed, the company created an architecture based on a low-noise, voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) rather than the traditional yttriumindium- garnet (YIG) oscillator used in broadband signal generators. Yet the instrument maintains the superb phase-noise performance that is associated with YIG sources.

The January issue also spotlighted the model SMS-DU direct-digital synthesizer (DDS) from Spinnaker Microwave

. It delivers output frequencies as high as 40 GHz in bandwidths as wide as 25 percent in an enclosure the size of a paperback book. The DDS boasts 1-Hz resolution and 1-s switching speed.

DDS technology also is at the heart of ITT's WaveCor synthesized local oscillator (LO) model 20.0 frequency synthesizer (May, p. 140). It spans 0.05 to 20.48 GHz with 1-kHz resolution and low phase noise and spurious levels. At just 6.00 x 6.00 x 2.75 in. and 5 lbs., this fast-switching source can replace several narrower-band frequency synthesizers. Also worthy of mention in the synthesizer arena is the RS-1000 series from Elcom Technologies, which spans 1 to 23 GHz in a package measuring just 3 x 3 x 1 in. (August, p. 98).

Impressive integration is achieved by Rohde & Schwarz's R&S SFE100 broadcast signal generator (April, p. 110). It can combine a signal generator, modulator, and high-power amplifier as well as a transport-stream, audio/video, and arbitrary-waveform generator in a rack-mount unit that is only 1.7 in. high. The SFE100 can be ordered with a specific digital or analog baseband signal source, which can be programmed for specific modulated outputs by the user. Because the modulation parameters of signals for each broadcast standard can be defined and varied, all versions of a standard can be tested.

Agilent Technologies' PNA-X nonlinear VNAs (NVNAs) also mark a significant advance in measurement technology. The VNA series performs nonlinear component characterization and directly measures nonlinear scattering (S) parameters from 10 MHz to 26.5 GHz (June, p. 116). A four-port PNA-X with NVNA capability measures all of the input and output spectra for a device under test (DUT) including fundamental input and output signals, harmonics, and cross-frequency products generated by the DUT's intermodulation distortion (IMD).

The Signal-Vu analysis software from Tektronix is designed to work with the DPO/DSA70000 series digital phosphor oscilloscopes or DPOs (December, p. 100). The software turns those high-speed oscilloscopes into wideband signal analyzers that are capable of real-time bandwidths to 20 GHz at sampling rates to 50 GSamples/s. SignalVu gives those DPOs the capabilities of the firm's RSA6100A real-time spectrum analyzer, but with the triggering capabilities of a high-speed scope.

For designers of both active and passive components, Focus Microwaves has brought portability to impedance tuning. The model iMPT-LITE-1208 compact impedance tuner operates at fundamental frequencies from 0.8 to 12.0 GHz (September, p. 136). Compared to many larger tuner systems, this cost-effective tuner weighs just 25 lbs. With two independent wideband RF probes, it can tune to voltage standing wave ratios (VSWRs) as high as 100.0:1 at fundamental frequencies with the added capability of tuning harmonic frequencies.

The system clock is critical to today's high-speed networks. To address this need, Phase Matrix debuted its low-jitter clock modules (April Cover, p. 90). Models are available in coaxial single-ended versions with sine-wave outputs from 39.813 to 43.018 GHz. They also come in compact surface-mount housings with differentialoutput sine-wave signals at 39.813 and 43.018 GHz. For example, the coaxial 40-Gb/s clock oscillator dubbed the HSC-41415-08K provides single-ended sine-wave output signals from 39.81 to 43.01 GHz. Those signals are controlled by tuning voltages of 0 to 12 V with tuning sensitivity ranging from 300 to 600 MHz/V. Output signals, which are available at a K connector, reach +5 dBm or more. The oscillator boasts a slew rate of 25 V/ns or better, 50-percent typical duty cycle, and a minimum modulation bandwidth of 20 MHz.

The voltage-controlled oscillators from Synergy Microwave provide superior tuning linearity at frequencies through 10.9 GHz (May, p. 150). The first three models in the DCO and DXO families of voltage-tuned oscillators provide frequency coverage of 4730 to 5420 MHz, 8100 to 9000 MHz, and 10,350 to 10,900 MHz. Both series allow finegrain tuning as a result of tuning sensitivities from 22 to 72 MHz/V. The lowest-frequency product, the model DCO473542-5, covers 4730 to 5420 MHz. It supplies at least 0 dBm output power across that range.

Defense applications have been a major driver of product innovation over the past several years. For example, Hittite Microwave spawned the models HMC613LC4B and HMC-C052 successive-detection log video amplifiers (SDLVAs) for systems that must capture and analyze narrow pulses with large amplitude variations (September cover, p. 124). These tiny amplifiers span 0.1 to 20 GHz. In terms of performance, the 4-x-4-mm HMC613LC4B provides a logging range to 62 dB while delivering tangential signal sensitivity (TSS) of 64 dBm. It consumes just 83 mA of current from a single +3.3-VDC DC supply when processing RF signals at 30 dBm input power.

Raising the voltage to increase the output power, the 50-V model MRF6V14300H laterally diffused metal-oxide-semiconductor (LDMOS) field-effect transistor (FET) from Freescale Semiconductor targets pulsed-radar and avionics systems (September, p. 132). It delivers 330-W pulsed output power from 1200 to 1400 MHz with 18-dB gain and 60.5-percent drain efficiency.

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The SIM-24MH+ low-temperatureco- fired-ceramic (LTCC) mixer from Mini-Circuits is designed for extremely broadband commercial as well as military applications from 7.3 to 20.0 GHz (May cover, p. 132). By uniting LTCC technology with advanced semiconductor technology and a highly manufacturable circuit layout, this mixer achieves superior electrical performance as a frequency upconverter or downconverter.

This year's final two Top Products both save space. The WaferCap chipscale- packaging (CSP) technology from Avago Technology dramatically shrinks the size of microelectronic packaging (July cover, p. 100). In addition, it slashes the losses that such packaging can inflict on highfrequency circuits. The semiconductorbased CSP technology offers integrated- circuit (IC), device, and component packages that are the same size as an 0402 component. They measure just 1.0 x 0.5 mm with a height of 0.25 mm. The packages can potentially support ICs and components operating past 100 GHz.

Dual-channel YIG filters from Micro Lambda Wireless vow to cut both size requirements and power consumption in multichannel receivers (October, p. 116). The MLFRD series of dualchannel, YIG band-reject filters packs two filters in miniature 1.4-in. cubeshaped packages with each filter capable of tuning a notch from 2 to 18 GHz. The 2-to-8-GHz MLFRD-0208, for example, offers 40-dB rejection bands of at least 5 MHz wide and a maximum of 20 MHz wide. Its maximum 3-dB rejection band is 120 MHz.

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