by Mark Waring, Strategic Account Manager, Hirose Electric USA
MPD: As RF/microwave system complexities grow across many industries (from smart cars to smart cities), what are the biggest challenges RF component vendors and system integrators should expect to face in the coming year?
From a connector perspective, and to some degree in general, signal integrity and signal consistency across a growing landscape of usage models will be a constant critical success factor that drives technical requirements for both components, sub-systems, and finished radio implementations. The growth of mobile applications, combined with heavier data-intensive usage scenarios (smart cars an obvious example), will push higher frequency, higher bandwidth, higher RF signal penetration requirements. For components, this means pushing the frequency performance, and at the same time, showing successful technical solutions to mitigate interference within the platform, fine impedance matching, and external emissions. Integrated shielding is one new trend in micro board-to-board connector solutions launched in the last few years, and this will continue to grow as high bandwidth RF becomes more common across products and platforms.
MPD: 5G simply won’t meet its promises without millimeterWave deployment, which is obviously incredibly challenging. What are your thoughts on the best ways to realize this?
5G has rolled out faster than any previous generation cellular standard. MillimeterWave already plays an important, albeit minority part in device and carrier strategies. MillimeterWave is a novel technology, presenting many challenging hardware/radio problems. 5G’s fundamental viability has been questioned since before its first test rollouts, but in a short time has proven its capabilities. Today there is little reason to doubt that millimeterWave solutions can continue to prove widespread viability, and there are multiple encouraging signs that the millimeterWave eco-system is proceeding to mature, with growing solution providers contributing—from semiconductors, to connector and other supporting components, to carrier build outs. One piece which will be important to track now is the introduction and adoption of end-usage models that push continued investments. From consumer device opportunities, to professional applications, to smart car platforms, millimeterWave offers a key component of making the most exciting applications work, so supporting top down platform adoptions and educating the supply chain and end-users on their benefits is as important as the bottom up technical infrastructure investments.