Market pressures generally speed product developments, and that trend was evident across the wide range of high-frequency products introduced in 2005. The list of Top Products of 2005 (see table) , as selected by the editors of Microwaves & RF, represents a fairly accurate sampling of the effects of those market pressures for companies to continue to improve existing products and develop new ones, be they components, devices, software, systems, or test equipment.

The year began with the introduction of one of the most complex but invaluable products, the ProtoLaser 100 laser-based printed-circuit-board (PCB) prototyping system from LPKF Laser & Electronics (www.lpkfusa.com). The system arms even smaller companies with PCB prototyping capability that can drill and mill track widths as narrow as 2 mils and track spacing as fine as 1 mil. Taking commands from computers with most standard layout files, including Gerber, HPGL, and DXF formats, the system can work with both laminated ceramic and PTFE circuit-board materials. The heart of the system is a proprietary infrared (IR) dye-pumped laser capable of generating a 1-mildiameter laser beam at a wavelength of 1064 nm.

That complexity, of course, was matched at a much smaller scale by a number of high-performance integrated circuits (ICs) on the Top Products list, including ICs from Analog Devices with multiple direct-digital-synthesizer (DDS) sources on a single chip, the AD9958 dual-DDS and AD9959 quad-DDS devices. Designed for clock rates to 500 MSamples/s, the multichannel DDS devices feature 32-b frequency tuning resolution and 10-b amplitude tuning to provide synchronized signal generation for a wide range of commercial and military applications. Operating at the maximum system clock rate, the AD9959 produces output frequencies from DC to 250 MHz in steps of about 116 mHz. The ICs are suitable for applications requiring synchronous modulation, such as amplitude-shift keying (ASK), frequency-shift keying (FSK), phase-shift keying (PSK), and linear sweeps (amplitude, frequency, or phase). The residual phase noise offset 100 kHz from a 181.5-MHz carrier is about ?154.5 dBc/Hz while spurious content is below ?60 dBc for output frequencies to 125 MHz and below ?55 dBc for output signals to 200 MHz.

Maxim Integrated Products (www.maxim-ic.com) also contributed to the industry's IC portfolio with the MAX2022 direct quadrature RF modulator, a device that applies a single-ended local-oscillator (LO) signal to a pair of passive mixers to generate flexible modulated output signals at carrier frequencies from 1500 to 2500 MHz. Designed for zero-IF radio designs, the IC achieves output third-order intercept point of +22 dBm with 1-dB output power of +12 dBm and a noise floor approaching ?174 dBm/Hz.

Device technology is also at the heart of a broadband line of power amplifiers from iTerra Communications (www.iterrac.com) Using GaAs MMIC pseudomorphichigh-electron-mobility-transistor (pHEMT) devices, the amplifier line, including the model iT2009, covers bandwidths as wide as 10 MHz to 26.5 GHz with as much as 1 W saturated output power.

In enhancing component technology, several companies focused on improving their understanding of material properties. Dielectric Laboratories (www.dilabs.com), for example, developed a customizable ceramic process for resonant circuits, such as resonators, oscillators, and filters. In what the company refers to as "disruptive technology," the ceramic process has been used for components from 1 to 67 GHz (the limit of the firm's capabilities to test them). These XTREME-Q components as they are called include a 10-GHz resonator with typical temperature coefficient of frequency of ?2.3 PPM/°C as well as microwave and millimeter-wave filters with passband insertion loss of 2 dB, rejection of 45 dB, and return loss of 15 dB.

Dorado International (www.doradointl.com) developed a new twist to traditional ferrite-based components, such as circulators and isolators, with their ferrite circuit boards (FCBs). These are integrated components and subassemblies in which the traditional alumina dielectric substrate is replaced with a ferrite substrate. Useful for designs from about 8 to 40 GHz, the FCBs boast lower loss and cost than traditional discrete ferrite components and have been used to provide isolation between receivers and transmitters while exhibiting 1 dB or less insertion less from about 10 to 40 GHz. Synergy Microwave (www.synergymwave.com) took aim at high intercept points with their Synstrip Galaxy series of passive diode and FET mixers based on several patent pending circuit techniques.

In a year that saw many changes in the computer-aided-engineering (CAE) supply chain, including the merger of Elanix with Eagleware, and then the acquisition of that combination by Agilent EEsof, the ways in which engineers use CAE tools evolved. Signal-integrity (SI) analysis gained more importance with the growing number of mixed signal and digital circuit designs at higher frequencies, supported by the introduction of Applied Wave Research's (www.mwoffice.com) AWR SI 2005 signal-integrity analysis software suite. Also noteworthy in 2005 was Sonnet Software's introduction of their emCluster Computing cluster computer approach at the Long Beach MTT-S. The approach uses a bank of computers networked together to distribute the processing of complex tasks, thus speeding electromagnetic (EM) analysis (see Microwaves & RF, November 2005, p. 53).

The year marked several key test instrument introductions, including a battery-powered, portable two-port vector network analyzer (VNA) from Anritsu Co. (www.us.anritsu.com, see Cover Story, p. 88) and the industry's first commercial eight-port VNA from Rohde & Schwarz (www.rohdeschwarz.com/usa), with impressive 120-dB dynamic range from 300 kHz to 8 GHz. Boonton Electronics (www.boonton.com) set new standards for power measurements with their 4500B, an improved version of the company's successful 4500A meter. The instrument measures CW power levels from ?50 to +20 dBm and power levels from ?40 to +20 dBm for pulsed and modulated signals. The new meter features an integrated calibration source and a wide range of measurement gating capabilities.

Focus Microwaves broke new ground in the area of electromechanical impedance tuners with their MPT multipurpose tuners for broadband pre matching and harmonic tuning through 18 GHz. The tuners employ three precision probes that allow tuning at a fundamental frequency and two harmonics simultaneously, supported by the company's advanced analysis software.

Sampling oscilloscopes hit triple digits-with the 100-GHz WaveExpert 9000 from LeCroy Corp. (www.lecroy.com). The scopes, which can be equipped with different plug-in modules for various bandwidths and functionality, leverage the unique nonlinear transmission-line (NLTL) sampler technology developed by Picosecond Pulse Labs (www.picosecond.com) to reach the bandwidth century mark.

The changing nature of test equipment was evident in the N8200 series of synthetic-instrument (SI) measurement modules from Agilent Technologies (www.agilent.com). Designed to work on a network and be reconfigured by software, these modules provide the flexibility and measurement power sought by the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the US Navy as part of the NxTest next-generation automatic-test-equipment (ATE) systems program. The N8200 series includes the two-channel N8241A 1.25-GSamples/s arbitrary waveform generator, the N8201A 26.5-GHz analog downconverter, the N8211A 20- or 40-GHz analog upconverter, the N8212A 20-GHz vector upconverter, and the N8221A IF digitizer.