I had a recent discussion regarding the future of RF and Microwave, with John Cowles, Analog Devices’ General Manager in the RF and Microwave Group. Cowles was a Si/SiGe RF designer at ADI for 10+ years but developed GaAs, InP and GaN technologies prior to joining ADI. He gave me the following perspective of what we can expect from the following areas of growth for RF & microwave in 2017 and beyond:
Dr. Cowles commented that many key markets such as Aerospace and Defense and Instrumentation still require discrete, leading-edge solutions for mission-critical sockets. Analog Devices’ wide portfolio of wideband products is well positioned to address these needs.
Broader commercial markets such as automotive and industrial RADAR will need higher integration solutions, smaller size, lower cost while maintaining leading edge performance.
Going forward in 2017, there will be more radios and sensors integrated into an increasingly electronic world around us, whether it be in cars, at home or at work.
New applications benefiting from integrated radar or Wideband RF transceivers solutions will be areas such as UAVs. traffic management, occupancy detection and industrial automation, to name a few.
Analog Devices (ADI) will support these industry needs with its reconfigurable systems and a broad RF/Microwave portfolio covering DC to 100GHz. The RadioVerse brand is just one example of innovative solutions that solve a number of complex system needs. You can expect ADI to build on this in 2017.
Automotive with 5G: See The Case for Cellular V2X for Safety and Cooperative Driving by 5G Automotive Association.
Instrumentation for 5G: See Wide-band instruments in the 5G Era.
Google and Space-X challenges are emerging with an entrenched supplier base that will need new socket solutions.
In the short term:
Cowles says that 5G will be on a steady march in 2017 with the World cup and 2018 Olympics preparations on the commercial side. Larry Desjardin says:
The stadium application is real. There is a very high density of users, and many sporting events cause the cellular network to collapse to a snail’s pace. Stadiums, conventions, and indeed everywhere there is a high density of users, the 5G value proposition seems valid. Toss in extra features, like personal instant replay or views from a different perspective, and 5G could be critical in supplying new experiences. It is no coincidence that Samsung has promised their first 5G public demo will be deployed at the 2018 Seoul Olympics1 .
New MIMO solutions will emerge. See this 2014 article which will be a template for MIMO design going forward, Developing Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) Systems with the AD9361.
Aerospace and Defense
Electrically-steered arrays will replace mechanical ones by implementing Phased-array RADAR, see Advanced Technologies Pave the Way for New Phased Array Radar Architectures.
Digitizing will move closer to the antenna. RF-to-Bits Solution Offers Precise Phase and Magnitude Data to 6 GHz and higher frequencies will come in the near future.
There will be more pressure on performance and size, weight and power (SWaP) according to Cowles; the cost of power will be more important than being the best in this market.
The need for DC to 100 GHz notionally is evident. See what Analog Devices’ partnership with Anritsu has done: Analog Devices and Anritsu enable the world’s first all-in-one wireless tester supporting LTE-Advanced.
Broad industry market
MEMS switches will emerge with up to 14 GHz signals Analog Devices makes MEMS switch technology commercial reality
A 24GHz Multi-channel Radar and Sensor Solution enables traffic monitoring with smart traffic lights.
It was first reported that Wi-Fi could see what are people doing in a room. Cowles says there is much more that can be done in that area.
Sensing threats with high frequency: An example of this type of solution would be In-building security systems which use wireless motion detection and have wireless switches as remote sensors on windows, doors, etc.
Usually a big challenge here is ultra-low power needs in areas like the Regulated implantable market and analog-devices-low-power-afe-enables-smaller-lighter-wearable-health-devices.html”target=”new”>Vital signs monitoring at home with wearables and the ability to transmit that data wirelessly to medical personnel or family.
Imaging and especially medical imaging requires, miniaturization, improved resolution, and mmWaves for detecting tumors.
Automobile RF and RADAR
RF will require better sensors to detect things we did not think possible like seeing the car in front of you but also seeing the wheel signature as well. This will identify four wheels, or Semi’s and the velocity of those wheels.
ADI RF and Microwave solutions contain advanced algorithms and software solutions as part of the complete solution for designers.
In 1998 ADI had 800 MHz capability and in 2017 3.5G+ and in the next 5 years we will need 30x that capability.
ADI has one of the best offerings of RF & Microwave solutions for designers in the semiconductor industry today thanks to the Hittite acquisition. Circuit and system designers would do well to access their portfolio and tools for an improved time-to-market for their demanding circuit designs.