IMS 2014: Day 1 From an Applications Engineer Perspective

After a very eventful preparation and buildup to the IMS show this year, I’ll have to admit I was hoping for a smooth and uneventful show. By uneventful, I mean no surprises resulting in something going wrong in the demonstration booth. I was quite fortunate in this respect, because the demonstration went well. I was quite happy with this fact for sure. As an applications engineer, it is always nice to see the hard work and efforts prior to the show pay off with a good demonstration of the product to interested customers at the show. Now, let’s move along and talk a little about the first day of the show.

As I recall from the last couple of years, the first day started off a little slow in terms of floor and booth traffic. As the morning moved towards lunch, the traffic steadily picked up and stayed pretty steady through most of the day. In the Analog Devices booth our layout had my demonstration of the AD9680 next to wideband data acquisition demonstration highlighting the AD9625 (2.5 GSPS version) and ADA4961 (wideband DGA), which was hosted by a well know ADC expert, Rob Reeder. The AD9625 and AD9680 have obviously been significant product releases as they are the first entries into the gigasample space for Analog Devices, which is an industry leader in high-speed ADCs. This being the case, the AD9625 was highlighted in the Analog Devices booth in addition to a separate but slightly different demonstration at the Mouser booth, which I discussed in my previous blog.

Contrary to prior years, this year the IMS show did not seem to have quite the buzz in the atmosphere. There was good and steady traffic, but something was different that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. I discussed this with people from other booths around the show who seemed to share a similar sentiment. Nonetheless, I was able to talk to some very knowledgeable folks from many well known companies about our gigasample ADC offerings. I had many customers interested in this new technology for the potential that it brings. By sampling in the gigasample range, the ADC can be used to directly sample RF into the baseband, depending on the RF frequency in the end application.

In other applications, direct sampling of the input signal may not be possible, but in either case, an intermediate down-conversion can be eliminated. For some that I talked to this meant that cellular band signals could potentially be directly sampled from the antenna (with appropriate LNAs, filtering, etc.) without the need for a demodulator to down-convert the RF signal to an IF (which would have been the case with an ADC in the 100 to 500 MSPS range). For others, this meant that at least one down-conversion could be eliminated. In these cases, the customer might be down-converting from the 10-50 GHz to 2-4 GHZ and then down to 100-500 MHz. By enabling the direct sampling of signals up to 3 GHz (AD9625) and up to 2 GHz (AD9625), one of the down-conversions can be eliminated and save overall cost and board space

There were many similar conversations on this first day of the show, and I was pleased with the high level of interest in the new gigasample ADC offerings from Analog Devices. Day 1 went well with steady booth traffic and no hiccups with the demonstration. At the end of the day on the demo floor, it was time to make a quick trip back to the hotel to clean up a bit and then head over to an event that I had much anticipation for, the customer appreciation cruise on the Yacht Starship, hosted by Agilent.

As I walked up to the luxurious yacht with my colleagues from Analog Devices, I was taken aback by the large size of the vessel and was that much more excited for the dinner cruise. We proceeded to board and head inside to enjoy the nice meal provided on board the yacht. Part of the experience of the IMS show is the time spent in the evenings after the show attending events such as this one and mingling with other engineering professionals in a relaxed environment. It is nice to unwind and have some conversations with colleagues at Analog Devices who I do not see on a regular basis as well as with customers and vendors I do business with while supporting ADCs as an applications engineer. I was quite impressed with the venue for the Agilent customer appreciation event, but, unfortunately, Tampa wasn’t quite as accommodating as Agilent.

The evening turned out to be quite cloudy, so a sunset wasn’t very visible, which was a bit of disappointment, albeit a small one that could be overlooked. What was not as pleasant was some form of waste repository that the yacht passed on the way out of the dock and on the way back in. Along, the way, the only real scenery to speak of were some million-dollar homes on Harbour Island. There was a small airport that we passed and then a very large metals recycling facility and some other manufacturing facilities. Overall, the scenery was not much to look at, but the dinner cruise itself was fairly pleasant. and I enjoyed the many conversations with folks that I had along the way.

I will say one conversation stood out to me. I quite enjoyed the enthusiasm of one of the young workers on the dinner cruise. This nice young lady in particular was close to graduating from college and was studying corporate event management She was very eager to chat with us and tell us about her studies. She wanted to plan events like IMS and the dinner cruise we were on. I wish her the best and hope that she is able to do what she apparently loves so much upon graduating.

It was a nice way to end the first day of the IMS show even if the smells at times were less than pleasant and the scenery not very eye catching. A big thanks goes out to Agilent for the invitation and for the wow factor in the choice of venue for a customer appreciation event. At the end of the day I was relaxed and ready to head back to the hotel for a night of rest to get up and head to the IMS show for the second of three days. Next time we’ll discuss the second day of the IMS show which is typically the busiest day… which it proved to be once again this year.

7 comments on “IMS 2014: Day 1 From an Applications Engineer Perspective

  1. samicksha
    June 25, 2014

    When we talk of Handheld  spectrum analyzers they tend to offer a limited capability, wherein chances of codes getting missed out is higher, curious to see if this ADC can help in improving the device.

  2. jonharris0
    June 25, 2014

    I am not an expert on the design of the handheld spectrum analyzers, but from a high speed ADC standpoint, most COTS ADCs today do not typically have missing codes.  A tell-tale sign though is if the DNL is greater than 1 LSB, the converter would have missing codes. 

  3. samicksha
    June 26, 2014

    Yes I agree you completely, it can lead to a non-monotonic transfer function in a DAC.

  4. SunitaT
    June 26, 2014

    Jonathan, thanks for sharing your experience. ADC offerings eliminates the need to interleave multiple A/D converters for the required performance along with reconfigurable platforms. Direct RF sampling and elimination of down conversion allow for more front-end configurations.

  5. jonharris0
    June 26, 2014

    Thanks for the comments.  One of the advantages of GSPS ADCs is the reduction in required front end components.  Some designs may allow for this while others may not.  In some cases the converters on them market are interleaved actually.

  6. yalanand
    June 27, 2014

    Shows like these always benefit you as a worker because you not only get to showcase your projects, You get to meet new people who can educate you more on the kind of work you do as an engineer. For a student you can use this opportunity to go and learn good ideas and ways of helping you get a job after you graduate. You get to experience the work atmosphere.

  7. jonharris0
    June 30, 2014

    Very good points.  It is definitely a benefit.  I enjoy talking with customers and letting them know about our products as well as hear about what they are working on.  It is also interesting to see students drop by who have such an interesting (and sometimes simplistic) view of the world.

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