Material Gains

Alun MorganThe nature of ADAS could revive CAF fears.

In a previous column, I enthused about the prospects for 5G to transform lives for the better, supporting new services that take advantage of ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) and capacity for massive machine-type communications, or mMTC. One place the impact of 5G will be felt is on the road, where machines will assume the entire decision-making from humans.

Leveraging 5G’s guaranteed latency below 1ms for effective real-time performance, the prospects for mission-critical V2X vehicle-to-everything communication can become real. Vehicle-to-infrastructure interactions with smart signs should result in smoother, safer journeys, and vehicle-to-vehicle connections that share information about presence and position should avert huge numbers of “sorry, I didn’t see you” accidents. Of course, it will take time for smart infrastructure to evolve and for V2X-equipped cars to enter the market. But it’s quite clear, even now, that cars are destined no longer to be islands. Ultimately, it’s a matter of when, not if, our road journeys come to be handled by fully self-driving vehicles.

Read more: Will Self-Driving Vehicles Sharpen Our Focus on Reliability?

Alun MorganAnd a plan for resolving the disconnect.

In any industry, standards provide a vital catalyst for market development by supporting a variety of assurances that are needed by product suppliers and buyers. Over time, however, the pace of technical development can outstrip standards-making processes, and a change of approach is needed.

Specifications for flammability or electrical safety such as those maintained by UL are unequivocal. Those that influence general performance, on the other hand, provide limits for parameters like dielectric constant (Dk) and dissipation factor (Df). These limits are now often simply too wide for designers to predict PCB behavior based on conformance to industry standards alone.

Today, we find that end-user demands across markets from consumer mobile and automotive to industrial automation and wireless infrastructure are pushing signal frequencies higher and higher in search of ever-faster data rates and lower latency. So, even some of the most humdrum devices we use every day must be designed within exacting parameters to meet demands for functionality, performance form factor and cost. When an accurate assessment is needed, such as knowing exactly how much signal attenuation to expect, simply knowing the substrate material conforms to a category of materials based on a broad definition of its chemistry will not provide the answers.

Read more: Industry Standards are Often Too Wide to Predict PCB Behavior

Alun MorganSecuring the supply chains against uncontrollable events demands trust and cooperation.

International trade is facing some significant uncertainties right now. Decisions about Brexit hang in the balance. Tensions over tariffs and subsidies are ongoing between the US and China. And there is potential for disagreement between the US and EU over approaches to trade and development.

These are, of course, only the latest in the never-ending stream of events within the continuing drama that characterizes international relations, many of which are potentially disruptive for those of us in the commercial world. We need to be aware of what’s happening and do what we can to protect ourselves against possible threats. As we say, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Read more: The Return of VMI?

Alun MorganLow Dk materials are a solution to high-frequency constraints.

With the rollout of early commercial services, the 5G revolution is happening now and will touch more lives in more ways and be more disruptive than perhaps any before it. This is probably because the revolution is not about 5G technology itself, but instead is about the many visions of the connected world that finally can be made real.   

We’ve been dreaming big with concepts like the IoT and autonomous mobility, e-health, Industry 4.0, to name a few. The potential benefits are huge, but so is the scale of the connectivity they envisage. 5G is designed to handle this, but sheer volume is only one part of the equation. Exciting applications linked to mobility and industrial automation, for example, are obviously time-critical too. 5G’s provision for ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) will enable the timely responses needed to ensure safety and proper coordination between machines or large numbers of self-driving vehicles moving within the same geographical area.   

Read more: 5G is Here, But It’s Only the Start of Something Much Bigger
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