Menlo Micro’s Ideal Switch Technology Offers Industry-Challenging RF Signal Performance

March 25, 2021

Menlo Microsystems announced a significant performance milestone that will drive improvements in RF signal performance across multiple industries. According to Menlo Micro characterization tests, their latest 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.

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 of merit 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.

The MM5130 switch’s 95 dBm IP3 level delivers from 10,000x 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. 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 make the MM5130 switch a very attractive solution 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 also makes the MM5130 ideal for ultra-compact switch matrices and RF test and measurement applications.

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