Why we decided to put our RF and high-speed circuit and fabrication expertise together under one roof
In the past 40 years, RF, baseband and high-speed compute were all discrete boxes and functions on separate boards and modules. There was not the push for integration and miniaturization that we are starting to see today. Conventional technology no longer gets customers where they need to be on their product roadmap. There is no more room for these functions to be discrete anymore, and the different disciplines are coming together to expand the limitations of what is possible.
The trends of the past 10 years show that the heavy lifting in electronics shifted from hardware to software. That is now going asymptotic. There is only so much further software can go. The semiconductor industry is not improving at a rate of Moore’s Law anymore. Things are getting so small that there is no longer a doubling effect. It is time for hardware designers to do some heavy lifting again, so the industry can continue to make technological progress.
When you really look at conventionally fabricated circuit traces, they perform acceptably well up to about 10 GHz, and then their performance rapidly falls off, both in high-speed digital and RF applications. In order to fix this problem, we need to be able to create very high aspect ratio traces. When we say “high aspect ratio” we mean a trace about as tall as it is wide, with excellent control of both parameters.
Benchmark’s plan is to re-imagine the whole foundation of electronic circuits at our new RF and High Speed Design Center of Innovation in Phoenix, Arizona. We have invested in state-of-the-art technology and equipment to create these high aspect ratio circuits, plus we offer a unique set of design and manufacturing capabilities with low loss substrate base materials, such as liquid crystal polymer (LCP). LCP is thin, flexible and has superior power handling ability with roughly half the loss of typical polyimides, making it a great choice for a HDI board material. Both RF and digital applications are concerned with loss. Loss translates into wasted power for the customer, and that lost power generates heat. One of our ideals is to help minimize loss to improve thermal management and overall system efficiency.
We believe today’s DFx (design for excellence) is inherently limiting to the designer. Whether you are in the RF or digital world, if you make electronics, we know you have size, weight and power (SWaP) problems. By applying our unique capabilities with the right combination of advanced materials and design expertise, we can give you better performance and a more reliable design.
With our new multi-capacity design center, we take a holistic approach to how hardware is realized.
- What are the best materials to use?
- What type of substrate technology should we employ? What are the best design practices to apply?
- What is the best approach to the overall system design and how can we optimize each of these areas? When we bring these pieces together in the right way, we can develop elegant solutions.
Our team is in the problem-solving business – we are not tied to a specific technology. We specialize in the art of the possible — creating unique approaches to solving challenging hardware problems.