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MAY 2018 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 9 Andy Shaughnessy is managing editor of Design007 Magazine. He has been covering PCB design for 18 years. He can be reached by clicking here. A lot of people I've spoken with—designers, fabricators, and assembly providers—aren't sure what it's going to mean for their compa- nies. I think it's safe to say that the majority of PCB companies are just going to wait and see how things shake out. It's difficult to build a roadmap around a technology that hasn't been implemented yet. Many of us will be watching the 2020 Sum- mer Olympics in Tokyo for more than cover- age of gymnastics—NTT DOCOMO of Japan plans to launch commercial 5G ser- vices for the games. NTT DOCOMO is partnering with companies like Sam- sung, Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson to have 5G up and running in two years. Most companies work- ing on 5G have formed alliances with other tech companies. These firms all realize that they can't implement something of this scale without strategic partnerships. Maybe our industry should try that approach more often. For this month's issue on 5G technology, we asked a variety of contribu- tors to help us flesh out what this all means for PCB designers and manufacturers. In our experts discussion, John Hendricks of Rogers Corporation discusses Rogers' plans to field high-speed materials for 5G applications, and Ben Jordan of Altium explains what 5G means for EDA software tool providers. Next, Tech- nology Editor Dan Feinberg focuses on how 5G will affect our industry, and who won't be affected by this change. CF Yee of Keysight Technologies has a feature article on PAM-4 and its application in 400-Gb Ethernet to sup- port the huge traffic volume expected with 5G. Further, John Coonrod of Rogers discusses the challenges that 5G presents to laminate manufacturers, who will have to contend with microwave frequencies below 6 GHz and milli- meter-wave frequencies of about 30 GHz. We also have columns from regular contribu- tors Barry Olney, Tim Haag, and Alistair Little, as well as an interview with columnist Mark Thompson and an article on constraint-driven design by Zuken's Ralf Bruening. Speaking of Communication… Fabricators always ask designers to commu- nicate with them early in the design process to help avoid DFM issues later on. But is this even possible? Case in point: At the recent SMTA Atlanta, the Designers' Roundtable drew a group of approximately 15 designers and design engi- neers. Doug Philbrick of ITS, an assembly provider, and Rick Kincaid of K&F, a fabricator (who, by the way, lost about 50 pounds and looks great), were also in attendance. Doug and Rick both mentioned that they'd like to have more communication with PCB designers early in the pro- cess. However, almost every designer in the room said that they never knew who was going to fabri- cate or assemble their boards. Most designers didn't know who was going to do the protos or volume production; a few actually laughed at the idea that a designer might know who was going to turn their design into a reality. So, is all of this preaching about talking to your fabricator early just a bunch of happy talk? I'm curious. Do you know who is going to fabricate and assemble your designs? Let me know your thoughts on this. We may be on to something. See you next month! DESIGN007

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