Evaluating Our Industry’s Health Requires a Broad Perspective
By John Farley, Director of Marketing, Pasternack Enterprises

As most RF and microwave companies are privately held and industry analysts rarely track sales of microwave components other than semiconductors and interconnects, determining the health of an industry as diverse as ours is extremely difficult.


MMD March 2014
New Military Microwave Digest


E-Band Active X5 Multiplier
Model SFA-743843516-12SF-N1 is an E-band X5 active multiplier with center frequency at 79 GHz with minimum +/-5 GHz operational bandwidth. It converts 14.8 to 16.8 GHz/+5 dBm input signal to deliver 74 to 84 GHz frequency band with more than +16 dBm power.
Sage Millimeter

Hand-Flex™ Coaxial Cable
Covering DC to 12.5 GHz, this 8” coaxial cable, 141-8SMNB+, has a bulkhead Female Type-N connector at one end and SMA-Male at the other. Features include low loss, excellent return loss, hand formable, and an 8mm bend radius for tight installations.

Phase Trimmer Series
This new phase trimmer series is designed for RF applications where phase match between two cables is needed for proper system performance. Phase trimmers, offered from DC to 50 GHz, will give an accurate phase adjustment over a specified frequency range.
RLC Electronics

Planar Monolithics Industries
Model PTRAN-100M18G-SFB-3UVPX-MAH is a transceiver covering the frequency range of 100 MHz to 18 GHz. The transceiver fits into a 3U Open VPX form factor utilizing the high speed VITA 67 RF connector.
Planar Monolithics Industries

SMT High-Power Attenuators
Now available with full design support capabilities are three new SMT high-power attenuators from Anaren. These 30 to 50W devices are high-performance, high-power chip attenuators covering DC to 3.0 GHz and feature high return loss and small footprints.
Richardson RFPD

See all products in this issue

March 2007

Low Skew, 250 MHz 1.2V-2.5V Clock Buffers for Reference Clock Distribution in Low Power Networking Applications
By Kay Annamalai, Pericom Semiconductor Corp.

The clocking requirements for most electronic systems can be achieved through a lower frequency external reference, and then internally, this reference gets multiplied to the required frequency for applications such as serial connectivity, internal CPU, memory or peripheral clocks. As the multiplication factor gets larger and the internal clock frequency becomes higher, there are stringent requirements imposed on the external clock reference including skew, duty cycle, clock delay, output jitter, phase noise, and voltage level. This article outlines the importance of these parameters to the system design and how it can be achieved through low voltage clock buffer offerings from Pericom Semiconductor.

Clock Distribution for the Network Infrastructure
Figure 1 shows the basic blocks of the network switch infrastructure, consisting of several switch ports that connect to the end nodes. The major blocks are the switching fabric, the Media Access Control layer (MAC), Physical layer (PHY) and Physical Medium Dependent layer (PMD). The external timing reference gets distributed to the switch fabric and switch ports. An example of the timing reference distribution for the PHY layer of GE switch is shown in Figure 2. Here, one timing reference is generated using a clock generator with an external crystal and distributed to the N PHY ports by means of RCLK1, RCLK2 and RCLKN. Internal to the PHY ports, the RCLKs are used to generate the high-speed serial clock by means of a clock multiplier inside the switch PHY ports.

The key parameters of the external reference clock (RCLK) to the network switch PHY ports are:

a. Phase noise power expressed as dBc/Hz over the frequency offset of interest from the center frequency of RCLK (e.g. 1MHz-20MHz),
b. Phase jitter expressed as rms value over a certain frequency interval (e.g. 1MHz-20MHz)
c. Output to output skew
d. Output duty cycle as percentage
e. Input/output levels
f. Output rise/fall times
g. Power consumption

The significance of each of these parameters is as follows:

Phase Noise (dBc/Hz): This indicates the frequency response characteristics of RCLK. This number should be low for high-frequency networks, such as Gigabit Ethernet, as this translates to output waveforms with best signal integrity (i.e. reduced noise and better system margin for link distances and bit error rate). The lower frequency limit to consider for the phase noise power response is determined by the loop bandwidth characteristics of the Clock and Data Recovery circuit (CDR) in the PHY silicon. So, the phase noise for frequency offsets less than the loop bandwidth is reduced by the CDR. Upper frequency limit for phase noise power is determined by the cutoff frequency for the low pass filter response of the Clock Multiplier.

Phase Jitter (rms): Lower phase noise will translate in time domain to reduced phase jitter and hence, increased eye opening. The effect is same as Phase jitter. Both Phase jitter and Phase noise are usually specified at the same time so that the individual contributor to the phase jitter can be better understood.

Output to Output Skew (ps): This parameter becomes important for synchronous designs. For the example shown in Figure 2, RCLK is used both to clock out data from MAC as well as to clock in data from PHY. So, as RCLK becomes higher in frequency, the clock cycle time becomes smaller and, as a result the timing margin for the system design is impacted by the output to output skew - smaller the skew, the bigger the margin for the system design.

Output Duty Cycle (%): Output duty cycle is the % ratio of HIGH time to LOW time. This becomes significant for high frequency reference clocks that rely on both positive and negative edges. In this case, it is desirable to maintain as close to 50/50% as possible. If the duty cycle results in narrow pulses, it will cause improper serial clocks from the clock multipliers in the network switch PHY ports, thus causing bit errors in the system.

Input/Output Levels: It is common to have multiple voltage levels in the clock tree, depending on the components used as well as the required input levels to the interface components. The networking components are continuing to operate at lower voltage levels with a view to decrease the overall power consumption. Figure 3 shows an example of a network switch where a crystal oscillator with 3.3V supply voltage provides the reference clock for the network switch. The MAC circuit interface requirement is 2.5V clock input. The PHY circuit interface requirement is 1.8V clock input. In this example, 3.3V output from the reference clock crystal oscillator feeds into the 2.5V clock buffer, as its output needs to go to the MAC chip. Also, since the PHY chip needs 1.8V, it needs to obtain the clock from either 3.3V crystal oscillator or 2.5V clock output from the first clock buffer and then feed into 1.8V interface of the PHY chip. We can assume the following: 45/55% duty cycle from the 3.3V crystal oscillator; 1st stage clock buffer can accept 3.3V input and provide 2.5V output with 40/60% duty cycle; and the PHY port chips need 40/60% duty cycle. Then, the second stage clock buffer to the PHY chips must take in 40/60% duty cycle clock input and provide 40/60% duty cycle clock output. So, the clock buffers have to be able to handle higher input levels and, at the same time, be able to provide duty cycle adjustments.

The output levels of the reference clock can be either single-ended or differential, depending on the application. For systems with stringent performance requirements like XAUI interface for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, it is important to have reference clocks that are differential so that common mode noises are mitigated.

Output Rise/Fall Times: The output rise and fall times need to be small because the clock cycle time for high-frequency reference clocks is small. At the same time, we need to ensure that excessive overshoot and undershoot with fast edges doesn’t occur. For this reason controlled slew rate is desirable.

Power Consumption: Increasingly, attention is devoted to power efficient networking equipment and higher performance PHY designs are developed for deep sub-micron technology optimized for lower supply voltage. Therefore, it is desirable that reference clock generators and clock buffers operate at lower voltages down to 1V with the capacity to operate with reduced power consumption. By having clock buffers and interface components operate at reduced voltages, we can eliminate the use of extra power rails and associated regulator filter components.

Pericom’s offering of low voltage clock buffers for networking applications:
Pericom recently introduced 1.2V-2.5V PI6C1080x/PI6CL1080x clock buffers that can operate up to 250MHz for network reference clock distribution applications. The clock buffers have options to directly accept crystal interface for frequencies up to 40MHz that eliminate the need for an additional crystal oscillator. Figure 4 shows an example of a timing solution for scalable Gigabit Ethernet switch where Pericom provides both PI6C10806 clock generator/buffer to distribute clocks for GE Switch PHY/MAC ports and provide PI6C48535-11 differential clock generator/buffer to distribute clocks for the switch fabric. Pericom additionally provides matching crystals to go with both single-ended and differential clock generator/buffers. Also available from Pericom is the PI6C485352 twelve 2 to 1 clock mux to switch high frequency reference clock for the XAUI interface to the switch fabric backplane.

Pericom Semiconductor Corporation
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Uncertain Times for DefenseIn Defense of DARPA; Lamenting Bell Labs
By Barry Manz

A federal agency like DARPA is a sitting duck for politicians and assorted other critics. It has come up with some truly bizarre programs over years that ultimately either delivered no tangible results, were canceled before they could cause any damage, or attempted to answer questions that nobody was asking or needed answers to. Read More...

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