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You could also make chip-on-board or
package-on-board panels when the
frequency (wavelength/2) supports high
packing density. In older lower bands
the element pitch is too large, requires
mechanical substructure upon which
modules are "tiled" and beam forming
happens "somewhere in the back room".
For higher bands there are T/R ICs with
at least some of the beam forming
functionality on board (heh).
OK, T/R modules are necessary for phased arrays but may have different form factors. In general are T/R modules customized for certain phased arrays or the same T/R module can be used for different phased arrays, say COTS?
I think with the variety of beam former and T/R ICs
coming out, there will be movement away from
modules to some plurality of panel designs (panel
will be driven by wavelength dependent element
Of course my exposure in this area is all satellite
stuff and lower bands where element pitch is in
10+ cm range. Every one of the handful of systems
were made of custom MMICs and my own element
control chips, different for each customer / orbit /
frequency plan, and each one a one-off (no 400-
bird constellations here).