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A Word from the MD

RF Technology - Then and Now

RF Technology - Then and Now - Blog Post

Nigel Norman, Sarsen Technology

Posted by Laura B
August 30, 2022
This week we are pleased to bring you a blog post from Sarsen Technology MD, Nigel Norman.  Nigel has more than 35 years’ experience of the electronics and semiconductor industry in design and applications support, and has taken a look at RF technology and how it has changed over the years.

By Nigel Norman, MD

I started my electronics career designing a variety of systems for deployment in naval, land and airborne applications. Looking back, it would seem that I was given a small subset of the total system to design; probably a good thing! One area that I really enjoyed was achieving the best performance from high-speed ADC and DAC data converters using careful PCB layout and component choice. I was always mystified by the work of the RF design engineers and the challenges of RF frequency conversion to signal types that the high speed ADCs of the day could work with.

Fast forward, 35 years to the advent of monolithic integration of direct RF-sampling data converters from semiconductor manufacturers such as AMD Xilinx. These devices would have made the data conversion projects so much simpler but removing the design challenge is a double-edged sword. The Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC devices eliminate the need for external data converters, reduces the system power requirements as well as the physical size of the hardware interface. Suddenly, RF signal processing moves into the digital domain.

These days, my technical input includes system level consultancy using embedded COTS hardware building blocks. One of my favourite solutions is the multi-channel RFSoC COTS mezzanine cards developed by the engineers at Annapolis Micro Systems in Annapolis, Maryland. These FMC format cards provide RFSoC conversion functionality in a small, flexible package that has solved most of the demanding circuitry, signal integrity, and packaging challenges I was faced with in my design days.

Read More: RFSoC from Annapolis

The Annapolis Micro Systems team has developed a family of mezzanine cards with up to four 12/14-Bit ADCs with sample rates of up to 5.0GSps and four 14-Bit DACs with sample rates of up to 10.0GSps. Mind-blowing performance to a young design engineer in the 1980s!

If you'd like to know more about the application of the Annapolis Micro Systems WILD FMC+ RFSoC cards please contact me or my colleagues to discuss. We look forward to speaking with you.



January 2023 - New SOSA-Aligned 3U VPX ATR and 19" Rackmount Chassis

Annapolis has introduced a rugged WILD100 8-Slot 3U OpenVPX SOSA™-Aligned ¾ Air Transport Rack (ATR) Chassis (WC3A80) and two WILD100 19” Rackmount 3U OpenVPX Chassis (WC31E0 & WC31DH).