November 22, 2021
As we pore over old family recipes — and refrigerators across the country fill up with $100 turkeys to be roasted, smoked and air-fried for Thanksgiving — we pause and give thanks to RF and our industry for helping keep the world safe and connected. After all, continued advances in RF technology have helped keep pace with pandemic-driven global demand, with mobile data traffic growing 46% from Q1 of 2020 to Q1 of 2021. As more people work from home, they depend on the latest technologies to stay connected — Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, 5G, low-power wireless and NB-IoT among others.
This demand for mobile data is driving the semiconductor industry to record growth in unit shipments. The SIA noted in early November that more semiconductors were shipped during the third quarter of 2021 than any other quarter in the market's history. We should all take a moment, before dozing off in a tryptophan-induced nap, to acknowledge and thank our RF industry colleagues for helping satisfy our appetite for data.
Innovations in RF continue to drive the industry forward, even as frequency bandwidths are constrained and the transition to higher millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies push the laws of physics and compound semiconductor technologies. Creative approaches — including Carrier Aggregation, Envelope Tracking, antenna and impedance tuning, massive MIMO, mesh networking, Time of Flight — have helped fuel advances in semiconductor and electronic design, integration and packaging.
Because there are so many competing wireless standards, we're also thankful for industry efforts like the CSA's Matter - which was formerly known as Connected Home over IP (CHIP). The goal of Matter is to reduce fragmentation among multiple vendors to achieve interoperability of smart home and IoT devices. And while Matter violates the Law of Conservation of Mass, which states that “Matter cannot be created or destroyed,” it will bring all the popular IoT wireless protocols under one overarching standard. With the help of Alexa and Roomba, now your smart toaster can make and clean up its own crumby mess.
Before friends and/or family show up for Thanksgiving, feel free to sing along to my dedication to RF and our industry below, which replaces the lyrics of the 16th century hymn "We Gather Together." Click here for a beautiful musical arrangement by Tom Wagener and clear the room so you can sing along.
We gather inspired that the world is unwired.
We boast and we toast that RF sets us free.
From videos streaming to Facetime we are beaming,
who needs a silly wire?
Untangled are we.
Technology hastens to next generations,
from 5G to Bluetooth to Wi-Fi 6E.
From Zoom and Team sessions to finding lost possessions,
I found my folding phone
thanks to UWB.
Please bless our insistence on wireless coexistence,
from Zigbee to Matter to Digital Key.
From energy saving to millimeter waving,
our tech's what makes it work.
We thank our industry!
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
This article first appeared in Brent's Musings in Microwave Journal.
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