IMS 2013 (Final Countdown): Sleepless In Seattle

May 31, 2013
Communications Editor Lou Frenzel reports on the action from IMS 2013.

I am going to Seattle next week (June 2-7) for the annual International Microwave Symposium (IMS). This will be my first time in Seattle; amazingly, after years of travel, I somehow never had occasion to visit this significant city. But while I look forward to seeing some of the sights, most of my time will be spent at the IMS conference and related events. I have a full schedule of meetings and videos that will ultimately provide you with some coverage of this major event.

IMS—also known as the IEEE’s Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S)—has been held regularly since 1952. It is “the” microwave show for those working in this field. While the focus over the years has primarily been military radar and communications systems (including satellites), it is today broader owing to most new wireless and cellular technology working in the microwave bands above 1 GHz. It is a big generic show, offering something for everyone who works with microwave wireless.

IMS is a mix of presentations, workshops, panels, tutorials, and exhibits. It is also made up of several shows-within-a-show: The two big ones are the Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) group and Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG). The RFIC group offers up multiple talks and sessions related to the latest in integrated circuits (ICs) for microwave radios. RFICs are a special category of semiconductor technology, as many of them are made with materials other than silicon such as gallium arsenide (GaAs), silicon germanium (SiGe), indiumphosphide (InP), and gallium nitride (GaN). The latest techniques and devices will be covered.

The ARFTG focuses on RF test and measurement. You can’t design and build microwave devices and equipment without test instruments. The T&M companies are typically on the leading edge of the microwave technologies with their latest vector signal analyzers (VNAs), vector signal generators (VSGs), and spectrum analyzers. I wonder what they have in store for terahertz (THz) development?

A special event within IMS this year is the Wireless Industry Day. This is a collection of talks from West Coast presenters on a wide range of RF subjects. This series of sessions should provide a good look at trends, new applications, and advanced technologies. I wish I could see this one myself, but I will be tied up with meetings with vendors at the exhibits. With an estimated 550 exhibitors, I will be busy.

My job this year, as usual, is to ferret out what is new, different and interesting. I will be talking with a mix of IC vendors, T&M companies and selected others. My video focus this year is on the latest in microwave test instruments. VNAs and VSGs no doubt will dominate, but there may be some new developments to write about. Another video focus will be microwave design software. Quite a few companies now offer a wide range of design and simulation packages. Look for a roundup of microwave T&M and design software on Engineering TV.

If you have the time and the budget this year, and want to refresh your knowledge of wireless and microwave, IMS is the best choice. Hope to see some of you there.

Editor's Note: For more show coverage, be sure to visit Microwaves & RF's IMS 2013 page.

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