2018 CICC Keynote & Luncheon Speakers



Mark Pinto: CEO Blue Danube Systems

Title: Massive MIMO Active Antenna Arrays for Advanced Wireless Communications, Mark Pinto and Mihai Banu


Massive MIMO (Ma-MIMO) systems are widely expected to be a central component of future wireless networks. Using arrays of programmable radio elements, all Ma-MIMO systems attempt to shape RF energy and improve user throughput and overall system capacity by increasing SNIR and reusing spectrum between separated users. While the shape optimization process is often referred to as “beam-forming”, most Ma-MIMO systems proposed to date for sub-6 GHz cellular bands do not actually form true beams, rather a large number of radio chains and digitizers are used to generate RF peaks and nulls based on user channel estimates. In this process, excess energy can spill into places outside the targeted users, causing unwanted interference at cell edges and wasting the available RF transmit power.


Prior to onset of Ma-MIMO, the implementation of choice for active antennas was derived from military phased arrays. These classical phased arrays form true beams but suffer from extremely high costs even for limited surveillance applications. Their application to commercial wireless is further challenged by the complexity of industry use cases which require many simultaneous beams and maximum uplink and downlink transmission speeds over many users. Nevertheless, true beamforming is necessary in commercial mm-wave systems to be able to reach users given the large path loss at these frequencies.


After reviewing the history and attributes of existing Ma-MIMO and phased array systems, a new Ma-MIMO solution will be outlined which starts by addressing a fundamental limitation that both existing systems have: the overhead and inaccuracies involved in either directly attempting to achieve RF coherency across the array or some digitally produced substitute. Combining an analog IC innovation – first described in a 2006 CICC poster as applied to VLSI clock skew alignment – with additional radio architecture innovations, a hybrid Ma-MIMO system has been developed which builds MIMO processing on top of a fully synchronized array. Very well-defined beam shapes can then be produced for both TDD and FDD bands at much lower hardware complexity. Performance gains have been demonstrated in multiple live carrier trials, including clustered sectors which is a first for any Ma-MIMO system.


Dave Robertson, GM Fellow/Analog Devices

Title:  IC Technology and Innovation Life Cycles (or What Does It Take For My Paper to Get Accepted . . . )

The semiconductor industry may be “maturing,” with increasing murmuring about the days of exponential innovation and explosive growth being over.  The reality is more nuanced:  there is still lots of room for invention, but we do acknowledge that certain technologies are “aging”.   However, even “mature” technical areas can experience a great deal of innovation, but the nature of the “breakthroughs” changes across a given technologies life cycle.   This talk will reflect on these issues, with some particular examination of some mixed signal case studies (including data converters) and some reflection on the all important question of which papers are going to get into which conferences (and why).