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The International Microwave Symposium Goes Virtual (Part 2)

Aug. 10, 2020
When it’s time to railroad, you lay rail, and so the industry must adapt. That’s why the International Microwave Symposium, the largest gathering of RF and microwave professionals, has gone virtual this year, due to COVID-19.

This article appeared in Evaluation Engineering and has been published here with permission.

The International Microwave Symposium may have gone virtual this year (see Part 1), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Expanding the scope of attendance for a trade show by using virtual technologies will make the content and information open to more people than ever before. When this pestilence is past, and we are able to mix in public freely again,  

I hope we retain the online aspect to ensure everyone has access to the news, information, and interaction the event provides. For now, here are some more highlights from this multifaceted and information-packed show. 

RF/Wireless Test 

Wireless test has always been a moving target, as the test systems must be faster, sharper, and better than the systems they are testing. At their virtual booth, AR RF/Microwave. The company offers instrumentation, software, turnkey systems, and chambers. In addition to the complete array of product solutions, the company also stressed its ability to provide customer-facing service and applications support.  

Although AR has been historically known for its prowess in the EMC market, it has also leveraged this knowledge and applied it to the wireless and telecom industries as well. The company is known for its high-end broadband amplifiers serving the wireless and telecom industries for characterization and reliability testing of critical components. AR RF/Microwave Instrumentation emphasized that it's leveraging existing technologies for instrumentation and test systems, as well as looking to the future to meet growing frequency and power requirements.   

Switching and Simulation Systems 

Pickering Interfaces’ core focus is high-density modular switching and simulation systems for PXI, PCI, LXI, and USB applications, including over 300 PXI and LXI RF/Microwave switching solutions featuring signal bandwidths from dc to 67 GHz. Available in different switch topologies, including multiplexers, matrices, and changeover and transfer switches, their solutions can fit your applications with a turnkey microwave switching subsystem. 

Their LXI and LXI/USB modular chassis can accept any of the company’s 300+ PXI RF & Microwave switches and attenuators, ranging in capacity from 2 to 18 PXI slots. Pickering Interfaces also offers supporting cable and connector solutions, diagnostic test tools, and software solutions. In this short video, the company explains how a matrix works, and different ways to configure them. It also compares building a large matrix with multiple switch matrices, versus selecting a totally integrated switch matrix. 

Crosspoint matrix switches are one of the most flexible switching choices you can select for your next functional test system—essentially, a crosspoint matrix switch can connect virtually any test resource to virtually any test point on the device under test (DUT). But like any selection you can make, there can be pros and cons in utilizing a crosspoint matrix, as you need to carefully weigh the specifications of the DUT to be tested in order to make the right switching choice. 

Cable Harness Simulation 

It's important to simulate designs as much as possible before committing to physical reality. Ansys is a provider of design software for creating reliable, optimized wireless communications, autonomous systems, and RF components. Ansys offers HFSS, the gold standard software for the design of RF/microwave components, signal integrity, power integrity, EMI analysis, and electronics reliability. At their virtual booth, the company emphasized their experience in the design flow for antenna synthesis, antenna placement, and radio-frequency-interference (RFI) diagnosis.     

Combining HFSS with thermal and mechanical analysis can create a true multiphysics platform to design reliable mission-critical electronic systems. Founded in 1970, Ansys employs almost 3,000 professionals, more than 700 of them with PhDs in engineering fields such as finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, electronics and electromagnetics, embedded software, system simulation, and design optimization.  

Ansys EMA3D Cable is a dedicated, platform-level electromagnetic cable modeling simulation tool. It delivers a design-to-validation workflow including electromagnetic interference (EMI)/electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) certification support and system-design evaluation for cable harness designs in the aerospace, automotive, military, oil and gas, consumer electronics, and energy sectors. Headquartered south of Pittsburgh, Pa., Ansys has more than 75 strategic sales and development locations throughout the world with a network of channel partners in 40+ countries. 

Designing for 5G 

Advanced wireless systems development for 5G and other next-generation RF solutions is a challenging task. For over 30 years, customers have selected Qorvo RF products and solutions, which are at the core of many of the world's most innovative products, from mobile and wearable devices to automobiles and the world's most advanced radar, space, and electronic-warfare (EW) systems. Qorvo's innovations include GaAs, GaN, SAW. and BAW devices, as well as integrated assembly and custom die-level packaging. 

At Qorvo's virtual booth, the company was touting its “Chalk Talk” video series. In this video, Bror Peterson of Qorvo talks about the issues designers face in RF design for 5G, and some novel solutions Qorvo brings to the table:

Qorvo is aggressively pursuing 5G deployment, and supporting the growth of mobile data with a broad range of RF connectivity solutions. Its robust RF portfolio for both wireless infrastructure and mobile devices include PAs, phase shifters, switches, integrated modules, and other high-performance RF solutions. 

About the Author

Alix Paultre | Editor-at-Large, Microwaves & RF

Alix is Editor-at-Large for Microwaves & RF

An Army veteran, Alix Paultre was a signals intelligence soldier on the East/West German border in the early ‘80s, and eventually wound up helping launch and run a publication on consumer electronics for the U.S. military stationed in Europe. Alix first began in this industry in 1998 at Electronic Products magazine, and since then has worked for a variety of publications, most recently as Editor-in-Chief of Power Systems Design.

Alix currently lives in Wiesbaden, Germany.

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