Menlo Micro’s MM5130 RF Switch is said to vastly improve IP3 Linearity

IRVINE, Calif.—Menlo Microsystems, Inc. (Menlo Micro) reported what it described as a “significant milestone” that could drive improvements in RF signal performance across multiple industries. According to Menlo Micro characterization tests, the new MM5130 Ideal Switch product, released to production last year and now shipping in volume, has achieved an IP3 linearity of greater than 95 dBm, enabling significant reductions in distortion for RF systems, the company said in a release.

Intermodulation distortion is a key industry metric in determining the linearity of an electronic switch. The third-order intercept (IP3) is the extrapolated point where the ideal linear performance converges with actual third-order distortion products generated by the nonlinearities inherent in the switch. This figure is critical in determining how much distortion a switch or other component will introduce into an RF system, ultimately impacting the quality of the transmitted or received signal, according to the release.

The MM5130 switch’s 95 dBm IP3 level is reported to deliver up to 10,000 times improvement (about 20 dB to 40 dB) over existing RF electromechanical relays and solid-state switches. This ultra-high IP3 metric is traditionally reserved for only the highest performing RF mechanical switches and relays.

When compared to solid-state devices, this level of IP3 is also difficult to achieve from currently available semiconductor processes on the market, Menlo Micro said in the release. Enhanced IP3 performance results in size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) improvements, as power amplifiers and other RF components in the chain can be scaled back in power and reduced in size, ultimately enhancing overall system performance.

These improvements are said to make the MM5130 switch well-suited for advanced RF systems, including low-loss switched filter banks, tunable filters, step attenuators, RF and microwave switching in radio front-ends, and phase shifters for beam steering and phased array antennas used in 5G networks. The high linearity is also said to suit the MM5130 for ultra-compact switch matrices and RF test and measurement applications.

“Menlo Micro continues to innovate and deliver performance gains that were once thought impossible with conventional electromechanical and solid-state technologies,” said Chris Giovanniello, co-founder, SVP marketing, Menlo Micro, in the release. “The electrification of everything and wireless proliferation call for the reinvention of a fundamental electronics industry building block: the RF switch. The MM5130 addresses this challenge. Its exceptional level of IP3 linearity will vastly improve the quality of service and signal performance for a multitude of RF front-end systems in demanding applications.”

Menlo Micro is engaging with leading 5G infrastructure manufacturers, which have conveyed the necessity of IP3 linearities greater than 90 dBm and that these levels are difficult to achieve even with the most advanced high-power switch technologies. Similar IP3 requirements are in high demand for emerging military communications systems, and Menlo Micro said it is currently working with prime aerospace and defense customers to design in the MM5130 for advanced radios and other critical electronic systems.

According to Menlo Micro, the MM5130 switch outperforms electromechanical RF relays across all application-critical metrics and offers the size, reliability, and speed benefits of a solid-state switch. Reported to be the highest density SP4T switch on the market, the MM5130 is designed to handle power levels of up to 25 W (CW) while operating across a frequency range from DC up to 26 GHz, with an insertion loss of 1.3 dB at 18 GHz and switching speeds less than 10 µs.

Menlo Micro (www.menlomicro.com) said in the release that it has garnered more than 30 committed global design wins, and last year transferred the MM5130 switch from a 4-inch research fab to a new 8-inch high-volume manufacturing line. This milestone has enabled Menlo Micro to ramp up MM5130 production while significantly increasing capacity of millions of units per month, the company said.

The MM5130 switch is in volume production today and commercially available in a miniaturized wafer-level chip-scale package (WL-CSP).

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