MACOM Technology Solutions Holdings Inc of Lowell, MA, USA (which makes semiconductors, components and subassemblies for analog RF, microwave, millimeter-wave and photonic applications) has unveiled a development kit targeted at helping commercial OEMs to quickly and easily adapt their product designs to incorporate gallium nitride (GaN)-based RF energy sources for a wide range of applications spanning cooking, lighting, industrial heating/drying, medical/pharmaceutical, automotive ignition systems etc. Leveraging solid-state RF energy as a highly efficient and precise energy source, commercial OEMs are poised to achieve new levels of performance and affordability for future product generations, says the firm.
The new RF Energy Toolkit (for which the Beta version is now available) helps system designers to simplify and accelerate their product development cycles by making it easy for them to fine tune RF energy output levels to maximize efficiency and performance. Combining the benefits of MACOM’s GaN-on-Si power transistors with intuitive, flexible software and signal control capabilities, the RF Energy Toolkit takes the guesswork out of the RF power source design and enables faster time to market, the firm claims.
GaN-on-Si power transistors supplied with the RF Energy Toolkit are said deliver up to 10% greater power efficiency than comparably priced silicon LDMOS-based transistors – a benefit for continuous-wave RF energy applications, where every incremental gain in power efficiency translates to less power consumption and lower operating costs over sustained usage. System designers can select from a range of power transistors to meet power level requirements spanning from 30W to 1000W, and the Toolkit supports coherent channel operation allowing multiple RF energy channels to be easily combined (e.g. 3x300W or 2x500W etc). Supported frequency bands range from 915MHz to 2.45GHz.
“Commercial OEMs are eager to seize the massive market opportunity for higher-performing RF energy-based systems enabled by GaN-on-Si, but they don’t want to invest the resources to architect the RF power elements themselves,” says Mark Murphy, senior director, RF Power at MACOM. “The RF Energy Toolkit lifts this design burden from the OEMs, and will help them get to market faster with their RF energy-based systems by providing an affordable, easy-to-use platform that streamlines system design and lowers development costs,” he adds.
“The current RF Energy Toolkit offers the industry ‘a first’ in a number of ways: the kit is an easy-to-use, compact, very flexible controller that can run all alone based on a very fast, hardware-based reflection coefficient optimization scheme,” comments Klaus Werner, managing director of MACOM design partner pinkRF. “Alternatively, the kit can run complex recipes alone or in conjunction with other controllers, programmed remotely or embedded with any number of RF vectors (power, phase, frequency, time, energy) to control complex or variable processes. The tool hooks up to the power amplifier – no special integration is needed,” he adds. “I view it as an RF Energy engineer’s ‘Swiss army knife’ to master, optimize and industrialize RF energy applications and their associated controllers.”
Beta-version RF Energy Toolkits are available now to qualified customers, with broader availability planned in Fall 2017. MACOM showcased the RF Energy Toolkit and its GaN-on-Si product portfolio at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS 2017) in Honolulu, Hawaii (4-9 June).