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View From the Top – AWR Group, NI

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by, David Vye, Director of Technical Marketing

AWR Group, NI

David Vye, Director of Technical Marketing AWR Group, NI
David Vye, Director of Technical Marketing
AWR Group, NI

MPD:

If your company serves the defense market, which application or applications do you believe will be the most lucrative from an RF and microwave standpoint in the coming year?

DV:

National Instruments, specifically from the standpoint of our NI AWR software product portfolio, has been focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in power amplifier (PA) and radar design, both of which are critical to defense market initiatives in upcoming years. As the U.S. defense budget will likely remain in the $500 billion range, multiple opportunities exist for RF/microwave component (i.e. PAs) and radar system development, supporting the DoD’s “Pacific Pivot” strategy, upgrades to aging military platforms, and international military sales. Future systems will place sophisticated electronics on space limited platforms such as unmanned vehicles and systems, manned fixed-wing aircraft, and certain shipboard applications.

As a result, the DoD and industry are focused on SWaP-C, with many planners predicting a shift from electronic systems designed as separate RF/microwave and digital packages. For EDA software like NI AWR Design Environment™, supporting this shift requires powerful simulation technologies that play well with other vendors’ tools and design flows. Our platform has a unique architecture for managing the complex data management necessary to support increasingly complex designs from circuit/system simulation through layout, EM verification and manufacturing, all from within a single environment or linking to 3rd party tools.   

MPD:

What emerging commercial applications or applications of RF and microwave technology do you believe will begin to deliver a respectable amount of revenue for the industry in 2016?

DV:

The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to be an ongoing engineering challenge and business opportunity for years to come. The adoption of wireless technologies will be vast, with many non-traditional companies requiring in-house RF expertise to provide in-house design capabilities or to liaison with external RF component manufacturers providing embedded antenna and radio solutions. The NI AWR Design Environment platform has the well-earned reputation of being not only accurate and powerful but also intuitive and user-friendly. Design tools that can provide comprehensive functionality yet anticipate and automate design entry and tasks will be very critical to new RF engineers entering the workforce and for sharing designs/design IP across the entire ecosystem that will be created by IoT.

MPD:

Referring to the defense market again, is your company experiencing any effects from DoD’s Better Buying Power 3.0 and open RF architecture initiatives?

DV:

Not directly, but certainly for our customers. Underpinning BBP 3.0 is the growing concern that the United States’ technological superiority over potential adversaries is being threatened by a remarkable leveling of the state of technology in the world, where commercial technologies with military applications such as advanced computing technologies, microelectronics, sophisticated sensors, and many advanced materials, are now widely available. The DoD recognizes that this leveling of technology allows nimble adversaries who have studied our defense systems, the opportunity to threaten our systems with potential asymmetrical attacks.

BBP 3.0 emphasizes innovation within long term planning, so that defense systems can be made to adapt more rapidly to counter these ever-changing threats. For our customers, that means they will need tools that can help them better perform what-if scenarios and rapidly incorporate real-world data. Our Visual System Simulator™ or VSS software provides the functionality for early exploration of system architectures and component specification based on either available hardware or radio blocks still in development.

MPD:

Is the recent downturn in China’s economic activity affecting your business, and/or do you think it will in 2016?

DV:

China has been a rapidly growing RF/microwave market for several years and is expected to continue, in part due to Beijing’s commitment to its telecommunications industry, smart cities and green initiatives.  For software vendors however, the challenge has been and will continue to be how to mitigate software piracy. Fortunately, as the China market matures, trade pressures and government involvement from the U.S. and Europeans are beginning to have an impact as more Chinese companies are willing to pay for software and support.

MPD:

Do you believe that emerging machine-to-machine communications (that is, IoT) will have a major positive impact on the RF and microwave industry in 2016?

DV:

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will be composed of a vast number of connected industrial systems that communicate and coordinate their data analytics and actions to improve performance and efficiency and reduce or eliminate downtime. Adopting IIoT will require a change in the way organizations design and augment their industrial systems. IIoT systems will need to be adaptive and scalable through software or added functionality that integrates with the overall solution, which brings with it tremendous amounts of complexity. To tackle that complexity, organizations must overcome several key challenges, including precision (e.g. addressing latency issues), scalability, security, adaptability, maintainability and robustness. NI makes the hardware technology and software infrastructure that enables someone building a machine, robot, healthcare device or factory to build the intelligence for their particular application on top of that platform. At National Instruments, we (all aspects and not just from an NI AWR software-centric perspective), serve the broad spectrum of industries developing IIoT and expect to leverage these industry partnerships in order to be a leading provider of IIoT development and support solutions.

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