Wireless device, circuit, and system design engineers must face time-to-market pressure every day. Challenged also by difficult economic times, designers rely on the latest information on wireless design techniques, test equipment, and software tools in order to be effective and efficient. As it has for 11 years, the Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo 2004 (formerly known as the Wireless Symposium & Exhibition) remains true to its charter of providing practicing engineers with practical design solutions for current problems, rather than theory and future-looking market studies. The event is scheduled for March 8-10, 2004 in the San Diego Convention Center (San Diego, CA). This second of three special reports previewing the 12th Annual Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo will highlight some of the more than 60 technical sessions scheduled for San Diego.

As noted last month, Dr. Henry Samueli, co-founder, chairman, and chief technical officer (CTO) of Broadcom Corp. (Irvine, CA) will speak the first day of the conference on life in a wireless world and business trends related to the growth of wireless networks. The following day, a second keynote address, by Ron Reedy, founder, vice-president, and CTO of Peregrine Semiconductor Corp. (San Diego, CA), will illuminate some of the similarities between working for military customers compared to designing for wireless customers. Dr. Reedy, who founded Peregrine Semiconductor (www.peregrine-semi.com) in 1990, is no stranger to military markets, having been a branch head of the microelectronics division at Navy Research and Development (NRaD). Holding a BSEE from the US Naval Academy and MSEE from the US Naval Postgraduate School, he is now responsible for products and services delivered to commercial, military, and space customers. The company's unique Ultra-Thin Silicon-on-Sapphire (UTSi)® CMOS process offers the high levels of integration possible with CMOS and the good high-speed/high-frequency performance associated with GaAs semiconductors. (For more on the UTSi process, read the "Application Notes" section on p. 94.)

The San Diego Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo 2004 features several presentations on a technology of great promise for high-data-rate wireless applications: ultrawideband (UWB) technology. For example, on Tuesday, March 9th, Jon Adams of Motorola SPS Wireless and Mobile Systems Group will discuss the fundamentals of UWB technology and how this short-pulsed, "carrierless" communications technique can achieve data rates exceeding 100 Mb/s over short distances with low-voltage devices and mere milliamperes of current. That same day, Ian Oppermann, the Director of the Centre for Wireless Communications, will explore ad hoc multihop wireless networks based on UWB and other broadband technologies. As part of a technical track on broadband/wideband networks, his presentation will project future directions in wireless ad hoc multihop networks, focusing on technologies for low-power, short-range communications systems. His research combines three main fields: low-overhead Internet protocols (nano-IP), ad hoc networks operating with heterogeneous radio structures, and UWB technologies for positioning and communications functions. The presentation will include results from several European Union (EU) UWB tests and trials. Finally, Bohdan Stryzak of Photran Sciences offers a presentation comparing UWB and ultranarrowband (UNB) modulation formats, and how each modulation format provides advantages for different applications.

Traditional Technologies
For those seeking more traditional wireless technologies, the Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo also features technical tracks on cellular and third-generation (3G) technologies, handset design strategies, low-power design, component design, and software development. In the Cellular/3G track, for example, Jim Person of the CDMA Development Group, highlights the growth of CDMA2000 technology and its use in wireless multimedia applications (currently more than 54 million CDMA2000 subscribers). His presentation will examine the migration to CDMA2000 from other standards and describe CDMA2000 deployment experiences by means of real-life examples.

Also in the Cellular/3G track, Michael Civiello of Zyray Wireless will explain how to make the transition to 3G technology through the design of low-cost, backward-compatible wideband CDMA (WCDMA) handsets. His approach involves the use of an add-on WCDMA baseband processor designed to interface with existing GSM/GPRS handset designs. In the same track, Grover Righter of Kabira Technologies outlines an approach for the deployment of real-time delivery of wireless content and messaging services (service on demand). He will explain how the newer software layers interact with a wireless network for messaging applications and how to link business-model requirements with design architectures in 2.5G and 3G networks. Also in the Cellular/3G track, Sanjeev Varma of Airvana will look beyond 3G and project the types of technologies that will be needed for next-generation wireless services.

The component design track will feature a diversity of topics ranging from memory and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to antennas and custom substrates. For example, Robert Markunas of Ziptronix will detail how to improve wireless system performance through the use of "engineered" substrates. These customized substrates can be used, in one instance, to minimize the temperature-related performance variations of surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) filters commonly used in wireless designs. In the same session, Jaekyun Moon of Bermai shows how antenna diversity can be used for improved OFDM wireless performance.

Power Management
In the power-management track, Peter Henry of National Semiconductor reports on advances in portable power. Pointing to the increased integration of wireless functions, such as positioning, messaging, video, and voice, within a single portable platform, Henry promises to review new technologies that are designed to increase battery life expectations. In the same session, Derek Koonce of Vishay Siliconix details the challenge of improving the efficiency of DC-to-DC conversion, hopefully through the use of novel P-channel MOSFET devices that can improve power-supply efficiency. Also in the power-management session, Jim Wight of IceFyre Semiconductor reveals a new power amplifier design that sets new standards of efficiency for 5-GHz orthogonal-frequency-division-multiplexing (OFDM) wireless-local-area-network (WLAN) systems. The unique switched-mode amplifier employs low-loss Chireix power combiners to achieve high levels of output power with low voltage and current.

Next month's report will continue the review of the more than 60 technical presentations scheduled for the Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo, along with a summary of key exhibitors and their latest products. For more information on the 12th Annual Wireless Systems Design Conference & Exposition, visit the website at www.wsdexpo.com.