Technology advances even during difficult years, as evidenced by an impressive collection of new products making up the Top Products of 2002. Selected by the editors of Microwaves & RF, the top 13 products of 2002 (see table) represent the diversity of technologies employed by this magazine's readers, from software to hardware, and from RF and baseband through millimeter-wave frequencies and optical signals. The list is a true "boiling pot" of manufacturers, a mixture of the old and the new, and the large and the small.

Among the smallest of the Top Products comes from north of the border, in the form of the SE4100 Global Positioning System receiver (Rx) integrated circuit (IC) from SiGe Semiconductor (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). Based on silicon-germanium (SiGe) process technology, IC integrates an intermediate-frequency (IF) filter, voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO), oscillator tank circuitry, low-noise amplifier (LNA), phase-locked loop (PLL), and crystal oscillator within a package measuring just 4 × 4 mm. The first product in the company's line of PointCharger Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, the chip draws less than 10-mA current from a +2.7-VDC supply. When coupled with a commercial baseband IC from ST Microelectronics, the chip forms a GPS Rx solution that consumes less than 120 mW of power.

The "other" GPS Rx on the list is from Valence Semiconductor (Irvine, CA), but is based on complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) process technology. The company's VS7001 Rx IC, which is designed for supply voltages from +2.3 to +3.6 VDC, consumes less than 30-mW power at +2.3 VDC.

Maxim Integrated Circuits (Sunnyvale, CA) contributed their MAX5886-MAX5888 line of low-power digital-to-analog converters (DACs) to the list. Designed for multicarrier signal generation in cellular base stations, the DACs offer 14-b typical resolution at sampling rates to 500 MSamples/s with noise levels to −160 dBc/Hz and outstanding dynamic-range performance.

Analog Devices, Inc. (Wilmington, MA) continued to advance the state of direct-digital-synthesis (DDS) technology with their 9954 DDS IC. It consumes only 180-mW power when operating at an update rate of 400 MSamples/s. The IC features on-chip 1024 × 32 b random-access memory (RAM), an integral 14-b DAC, a PLL clock multiplier, an on-chip crystal oscillator, and a high-speed comparator. In spite of the integration, it is designed to operate on only +1.8 VDC. The DDS has a 32-b phase accumulator for tuning resolution of 0.093 Hz with a 400-MHz clock. The 14-b DAC accounts for excellent spurious performance (narrowband performance as good as −85 dBc).

The FE-205A, FE-405A, and FE-505A line of digital oven-controlled crystal oscillators (DOCXOs) from FEI Communications (Mitchell Field, NY) made use of DDS technology to provide correction to the output frequencies in order to achieve output frequency accuracy rivaling that of more expensive rubidium clock oscillators. Available at standard frequencies of 10 and 15 MHz, and custom frequencies from 5 through 25 MHz, the sources feature a double-oven structure and stress-compensated (SC) cut crystals, the DDS circuitry allows the OCXOs to achieve temperature stability of better than 1 × 10−10 at temperatures from −40 to +75°C. and typical aging of 5 × 10−11. The phase noise is −145 dBc/Hz offset 10 kHz from the carrier.

RF Micro Devices (Greensboro, NC) entered the fast-growing wireless-local-area-network (WLAN) market with a competitive chip set for the IEEE 802.11b standard at 2.4 GHz. The chip set includes an LNA/mixer, transceiver, transmit power amplifier (PA), and baseband processor. The processor, of course, represents a bold introduction for a company formerly associated with only RF technologies. Yet, coupled with the other three devices, it forms part of a complete WLAN solution that is supported with reference designs and software.

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The Trinity chip set from XtremeSpectrum (Vienna, VA) marked the first commercial product based on ultrawideband (UWB) technology. Rather than using a modulated carrier to wirelessly transfer information, UWB technology relies on a series of short pulses spread over a relatively wide bandwidth. The four ICs, which include a medium-access controller (MAC), a baseband controller, a transceiver, and an LNA, can transfer data rates as high as 100 Mb/s over short distances while requiring less than 200 mW of power. The first three chips are based on a CMOS process, while the LNA is fabricated with SiGe.

Several software packages graced the 2002 list, including Applied Wave Research's (AWR) Visual System Simulator (VSS2002) 2002 and Version 2.0 of Computer Simulation Technology's CST Design Studio. The VSS2002 program is a true system simulator, allowing users to quickly create block diagrams of complex systems. A major advance in the Advanced Communication Links Analysis and Design Environment (ACOLADE) simulation technology acquired by AWR from ICUCOM (Troy, NY), the program features more than 230 core elements and mathematical primitive elements that can be used in creating and defining system functions. VSS2002 offers models for encoders/decoders, filters, modulators, demodulators and comprehensive libraries for Enhanced Data-Rate for GSM Evolution (EDGE), code-division-multiple-access (CDMA), and WLAN systems.

Version 2.0 of the CST Design Studio, which is based on an open design environment, breaks large problems into a series of smaller-but-related problems. The software allows an electromagnetic (EM)-based system to be broken down into smaller components or blocks, each described by its own generalized S-parameter matrix. The software uses Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro language to simplify customization. Its component-object-model (COM) interface enables seamless integration of a variety of other software tools, including Matlab and MS Excel.

Several oscilloscopes made the 2002 list, including the WaveMaster 8500 digital storage oscilloscope (DSO) from LeCroy Corp. (Chestnut Ridge, NY) and the 4-GHz 54854A and 6-GHz 54855A Infinium oscilloscopes and InfiniiMax probe system from Agilent Technologies (Santa Rosa, CA). The WaveMaster employs the X-Stream architecture to eliminate trade-offs between fast processing the memory requirements for storing long records. Based on the company's proprietary SiGe front-end ICs, the scope can digital signals at 10 GSamples/s on four channels, then send the data to a CMOS acquisition memory that can store as many as 48 million points of acquired data. The effective sampling rate can be increased to 20 GSamples/s when only two channels are used.

The Infinium scopes each deliver sampling rates to 20 Gb/s on four independent measurement channels, with generous acquisition memories, but it is perhaps the probe system that is the news here. The probes incorporate extremely wideband amplifiers (3.5-, 5-,and 7-GHz bandwidths are currently available) to overcome the bandwidth-limiting effects of accessories, such as wireless extensions, added to the tip of a probe. As a result, these probes can provide true wideband responses through 7 GHz of bandwidth, without the limitations of conventional active probe systems.

One of the more interesting measurement tools introduced in 2002 came from Computer Access Technology Corp. (Santa Clara, CA), with the Merlin Mobile Bluetooth protocol analyzer. Designed for full-featured protocol analysis according to Version 1.1 of the Bluetooth standard, the entire instrument fits within a standard 16-b Type II PC card measuring just 5.3 × 2.1 × 0.4 in. (135 × 54 × 10.5 mm). The analyzer can capture and analyzer Bluetooth signals within a piconet, evaluating the baseband, LMP, L2CAP, SDP, RECOMM, TCS, and OBEX layers of the Bluetooth protocol stack. It also provides standard decoding functions for HDLC, PPP, BNEP, HID, and AT commands, and can create custom decoding functions. The Merlin Mobile protocol analyzer supports point-to-point and point-to-multipoint piconets, and allows time stamping of events with 100-ns resolution.

Two of the award winners were aimed at clock timing in high-speed optical circuits, the CR-40 clock-recovery unit (CRU) from Communication Techniques, Inc. (Whippany, NJ) for use in OC-768/STM-256 high-speed optical communications systems operating at 40 Gb/s, and the CTM-8-OCXX and CTS-8-OCXX series of clock translators from Synergy Microwave Corp. (Paterson, NJ). The CR-40 CRU is based on a high quality-factor (Q) single-pole dielectric-resonator filter with bandpass response centered at the clock frequency. Jitter generation for the CRU is less than 15 mUI root mean square (RMS), while the typical phase noise of a 39.813-GHz recovered clock signal is −74 dBc/Hz offset 10 kHz from the carrier.

Synergy's clock translators are based on the use of surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) technology within voltage-controlled SAW oscillators (VCSOs) to provide precise output clock frequencies with low phase noise when fed with different-frequency input signals. For example, the model CTS-C1-12 clock translator operates with an input frequency of 51.84 MHz and provides an output signal at the SONET frequency of 622.08 MHz. For an input signal at +10 dBm, the output signal level is +6 dBm. The output jitter is typically only 3 ps. The clock translators are available for use with single or multiple input signals (the S and M in the product codes).