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Wrapping Up IMS 2015

May 27, 2015
This was my sixth IMS and I was happy to attend as it is by far the best RF/wireless conferences available.

The International Microwave Symposium (IMS) put on by the IEEE’s Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) was held in Phoenix this month. This was my sixth IMS and I was happy to attend as it is by far the best RF/wireless conferences available. It is a great mix of technical sessions and exhibits that clearly reflect the current trends and state of the art of the wireless world today. Here is a brief summary of what I saw.

I interviewed Dr. Vijay Nair, General Chair of IMS 2015. Dr. Nair works for Intel. He certainly had his hands full putting together the massive number of sessions offered. He indicated that the main themes of this year’s event were wearables, the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G wireless. The technical sessions were designed for 10 or 20 minutes so you could get a great deal of coverage in a short time. These sessions were supplemented with panel sessions, workshops, short courses, and exhibitors’ MicroApps.  Dr. Nair also pointed out that this year a record number of vendors exhibited; there were 620 vendors and 949 booths. Of note was the Wearables + Wireless Pavilion showcasing the latest wearable gadgets, most of which were fitness and health related.

As usual, the test equipment companies were out in force, many of them showing instruments that can be used to implement the R&D of new 5G wireless equipment. While 5G won’t arrive until 2020 or so and final standards and spectrum have not been set, there is a considerable amount of work being done to move that technology forward. Test equipment companies showing 5G-related equipment included Anritsu, Keysight Technologies, National Instruments, and Rohde & Schwarz. New company Signal Hound showed off its VSG25A vector signal generator for $495. It uses the computing power of a laptop and covers the 100 to 2500 MHz frequency range, offering all the major PSK and QAM modulation modes.

Another trend is the heavy emphasis on GaN products. With improved performance and lower prices, GaN transistors are now a viable option for many more PA applications. While LDMOS transistors are holding their own, GaN is now definitely a practical design alternative. Companies showing off their GaN products included Analog Devices, Cree, Freescale, NXP, and Qorvo. 

Lots of other semiconductor companies were exhibiting a mix of discretes, chips, and modules. These included Microsemi, RFHID, RFMW, Skyworks, and Texas Instruments. A highlight was Freescale’s triple-decker bus outside the convention center with its 100+ IoT wireless applications displays.

We at Microwaves & RF presented our Best of Industry Awards at the show. Awards were given for best website, blog, video, educational tools, and STEM initiative. The MWRF Living Legend award was presented to Dr. James Truchard, CEO and founder of National Instruments.   

IMS is a great conference.  If you missed this one, you should definitely plan on attending next year in San Francisco.