Interconnect Advances Fuel Technology Growth
By Orwill Hawkins, Vice President of Marketing, LadyBug Technologies

With increased frequencies, higher data rates, and lower noise levels, the microwave industry serves as a leader in technological capability. Demand for quality interconnects has increased right along with other higher-performance areas in the industry.


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


August 2013

Is GaAs Really Dying?

By Liam Devlin, CEO, Plextek RF Integration

Liam Devlin, CEO, Plextek RF Integration

“The Death of GaAs?” —this was the title of a panel session at the June IMS2013 meeting in Seattle, and I have weighed the evidence and would like to discuss my thoughts.

The panel presentations largely focused on GaAs in cellular communications products, since this is the largest application—currently accounting for over 50% of all GaAs sales revenue. It is clear that the front-end switch function, which until recently was dominated by GaAs PHEMT devices, has now changed over to using silicon-on-insulator (SoI) technology. The reasons for this are that it gives comparable—or in some cases superior—performance, combined with the fact that all control logic can be included on the switch IC rather than requiring a separate CMOS control IC, as in the case of the PHEMT switches.

However, GaAs device sales are still growing in a subdued fashion—revenue was $5.3 billion in 2012, a modest 2% more than it was in 2011, but growth nevertheless. Interestingly, several companies that were founded to develop CMOS PAs have been acquired by GaAs vendors, among them Javelin, bought by Avago, and Amalfi, which was acquired by RFMD.

The PA function is still dominated by GaAs HBT, even in low cost handsets, despite the fact that CMOS PAs have been available for a number of years and are now used in some commercially available products. The panel provided data to show that although the cost per square mm of CMOS is cheaper than that of GaAs, the CMOS PAs occupy a larger area, so the resulting PAs are actually similar in cost. As GaAs HBT PAs also tend to offer superior efficiency, this has left them in a prime position for this function. The view that CMOS may become the technology of preference for entry level handsets, with GaAs HBT being preferred for higher-end products, was also expressed. However, panelist David Danzillio of WIN reported doing a tear-down on the cheapest cellular handset he could find on the street, which actually contained a GaAs PA.

Although the panel focused on the challenge of Si technologies to key applications for GaAs, the challenge from GaN was also covered. GaN technology is particularly well suited to the implementation of RF and microwave High Power Amplifiers (HPAs), an area of dominance for GaAs technologies. GaN is currently considerably more expensive than GaAs, but is capable of realizing HPAs with higher output powers and efficiency. The level of interest in GaN was clear across the conference and exhibition as a whole, but at the moment the higher costs mean that it is only used when GaAs capability runs out of steam.

Ultimately, end users purchase products based on a trade-off of price and performance rather than the elements used in the manufacture of the ICs. It is the market that will decide on the fate of GaAs, but the GaAs manufacturers and suppliers are still performing well and this doesn’t look set to end in the immediate future.

So is GaAs dying? I would say that my reply would be, “Not anytime soon, but the competition is increasing.”

About the Author
Liam Devlin is the CEO of Plextek RF Integration, a UK-based design house specialising in the design and development of RFICs, MMICs and microwave/mm-wave modules. He has led the design and development of over 70 custom ICs on a range of GaAs, GaN and Si processes at frequencies up to 90GHz. He has also developed microwave and mm-wave sub-systems using a variety of technologies. He was previously Chief Designer with Marconi Caswell where he designed GaAs ICs for both the commercial product line and for customer specific applications. Prior to this, Liam was employed by Philips Research Laboratories. He graduated from Leeds University in 1988 with a first class honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering and has published 40 technical papers.

Plextek RF Integration
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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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