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VFTT – Keysight Technologies

VFTT – Keysight Technologies
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by Roger Nichols, 6G Program Manager, Keysight Technologies

MPD: Please describe what you consider to be your company’s most significant technological achievements in 2023.

RN:

I have a long list for 2023. Here are my favorites. First, underscoring the overall effort, we are coordinating the Horizon Europe 6G-SNS 6G-SANDBOX project, one of four EU research projects in which we are participating. 6G-SANDBOX is developing a pan-European 6G testbed located in Malaga, Spain, with virtual access from Athens, Berlin, and Oulu. This is the first of its kind and will enable researchers to explore and validate new ideas for the next generation of wireless.

Second, based on proof-of-concept work started in 2022, we now have solutions that validate 5G non-terrestrial network systems. The convergence of satellite and terrestrial wireless is complex, and we are excited to be involved in this work. Third, Keysight had some high-speed link milestones this year, including demonstrating 1.6 Tb/s coherent transmission over 10 km with McGill University, making the UK’s first 100 Gb/s 6G sub-terahertz connection with NPL and the University of Surrey, and enabling a 16 GHz bandwidth real-time link at 140 GHz working with Northeastern University.

MPD: Has EDA software improved in recent years, and if so, how is it helping your company meet its goals?

RN:

Keysight’s line of EDA solutions is well-known in the industry, and, in the spirit of “drinking one’s own champagne,” we extensively use our own EDA tools and workflows. For example, they’re used when we develop RF and millimeter-wave subsystems in our instruments. Many leading technology companies have adopted Keysight’s design tools and workflows to simulate their circuits and systems with precise and accurate first-pass success. EDA has come a long way, and we continued to improve our EDA tools this year, including RF System Explorer, which streamlines system and circuit-level design workflows. Digital Pre-Distortion Explorer and Digital Pre-Distortion Designer accelerate wide-bandgap power amplifier design and validation, and SystemVue now delivers SATCOM modeling and simulation solutions for 5G non-terrestrial network and phased array product development.

MPD: Have millimeter-wave devices advanced to the point where they can affordably be deployed for 5G?

RN:

Despite some challenges, the following examples suggest that 5G FR2 is here to stay and will continue to grow. The first is that Verizon recently announced that its ultra-wideband capability is now installed in all NFL stadiums in the U.S. The second is that Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are advancing FR2 fixed wireless capabilities in India as they build their respective systems. Given the scale of these deployments in such cost-sensitive regions with massive data demand, this work will continue to drive the industry to deliver affordable and effective millimeter-wave solutions, starting at the semiconductor level.

MPD: What does the Department of Defense need most from the microwave industry?

RN:

Based on the current geopolitical situation and the technological advances of potential adversaries, the top priorities of the DoD are in the areas of electronic warfare and signals intelligence. The microwave industry must supply the means to achieve wider bandwidths, higher power, and lower noise floors for these systems. To address this, Keysight can fully model, simulate, and analyze the Electronic Order of Battle (EOB) involving all electronic systems, such as communication networks, radars, and electronic warfare assets, to test and evaluate these systems quickly and efficiently.

Some key examples include the development of GaN (gallium-nitride) devices that are critical for advancing EW and radar technologies. Also, active array antennas are becoming ubiquitous across microwave systems, incorporating Digital Transmit/Receive Modules (DTRMs) to immediately digitize the received analog signal within the same module on the antenna. In addition, signal processing of the received or captured signals requires powerful FPGA or GPU capabilities with high-speed interfaces to stream the real-time signal data without gaps. In addition, new artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques for cognitive operation require heavy processing capability.

The cost of developing advanced military systems is a significant concern. The desire for innovative capability comes with a steep price tag. Just like EDA, the ability to simulate everything in the laboratory so that it emulates the real-world costs much less than drive, flight, or field tests. Digital twin modeling tools can create an electronic environment nearly identical to the operational domain, speeding development times while reducing costs.

MPD: An increasing number of applications rely on RF and microwave technology. What application is most likely to significantly contribute to the industry by the end of the decade?

RN:

While mobile gaming may seem frivolous, this rapidly growing business will drive investments in new device types and in high bandwidth demands that will profoundly impact the RF and microwave industry. Advancements in related technology will also enable other industries to leverage this combination of advanced mobile RF technology, distributed computing, and multi-user environments for uses beyond entertainment. These will allow for more advanced training and troubleshooting “from a distance,” remote medicine, and even battlefield training for warfighters.

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