TRADE SHOWS PROVIDE different industries a chance to assess themselves. There was plenty of assessment taking place at the IEEE Microwave Theory & Techniques Symposium (or International Microwave Symposium, if you prefer), held last month in the Moscone Convention Center (San Francisco, CA). And there was a great deal of looking back.

The event didn't lack for the quality of its presentations in the technical sessions or the number of major new product announcements on the exhibition floor. In the area of high-power devices for wireless infrastructure equipment, RF Micro Devices (www.rfmd.com) announced its first gallium-nitride (GaN) power transistors for WCDMA and WiMAX. The largest of the devices were the RF3914 with 120-W saturated output power from 2110 to 2170 MHz and the RF3918 with 100-W saturated output power from 2300 to 2500 MHz.

Freescale Semiconductor expanded its portfolio of power transistors for Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) band applications with devices offering as much as 300 W CW output power from 10 to 450 MHz (model MRF6V2300NB) and 190 W CW output power at 2450 MHz (model MRF6P24190HR6)(see the White Paper in this issue and Editor Nancy Friedrich's Special Report on p. 33 for more on power devices.) Displaying their technologies at a special pre-exhibition event for members of the press that was hosted by Interact Global (www.interactglobal.com), both firms noted the health of the industry.

The MTT-S exhibition area carried more of the optimism shown in the Interact Global pre-event. Particularly in the test and measurement area, suppliers such as Agilent Technologies (www.agilent.com), Anritsu Co. (www.us.anritsu.com), Rohde & Schwarz (www.rohdeschwarz.com), and National Instruments (www.ni.com) announced major new products. Anritsu, for example, unveiled an Economy Spectrum Analyzer (model MS2717A) with excellent performance to 7.1 GHz for under $10,000. And Rohde & Schwarz introduced the FSUP, a combination spectrum analyzer and phase-noise tester usable through 50 GHz, with phase noise of −165 dBc/Hz offset 10 MHz from a 640-MHz carrier.

Tempering the optimism was what could be called the "aging of the microwave industry." Many attendees (old friends) carried a similar message: of impending retirement. This retiring generation has built this industry into one of the more important segments of electronics, and contains some of the kindest, brightest people one could hope to meet. They have given much, and have certainly earned their retirements. Those of us remaining behind can only hope for them to linger just a bit longer in the industry, to pass on some of their wisdom and allow the rest of us to benefit from their experience. Don't let the sun set on this gifted and valued generation just yet.