The quest for higher speed, wider bandwidths, and higher operational frequencies never ends. Just when you think the maximum has been reached, a new component, technology, or standard comes along to break the barrier. But Tektronix's AWG7000 series arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) is up to the task of testing these lightning-fast technologies, with 5.8-GHz analog bandwidth, 10-bit resolution, and a sample rate as high as 20 Gsamples/s.
With these kinds of specs, design and test engineers can create, replicate, and generate ideal, distorted, or "real life" signals including noise, jitter, glitches, and other imperfections to assist with prototype, debug, verification, and standards compliance for the latest serial data or wideband digital RF designs. The AWG7000 also can produce signals for SATA III storage devices, PCI Express 2.0, XAUI, HDMI 1.3, Ultra-Wideband (UWB), and a variety of other special storage devices and radar.
At the heart of the AWG7000 is a 64M memory for waveform storage and a 0.18-µm biCMOS silicon-germanium 10-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with a sampling rate to 10 Gsamples/s. Interleaving two DAC channels provides a maximum sampling rate of 20 Gsamples/s.
Rise times of 45 ps are possible in binary signal generation. Modulated RF signals up to 5 GHz (four data points per cycle at 20 Gsamples/s) can be produced for wideband applications, including radar. Otherwise, where would designers get a good UWB signal or compressed pulse radar signal for testing?
The AWG7000 shown in the figure has a 10.4-in. XGA touchscreen, a CD-RW and DVD-ROM, a removable hard drive, SMA output connectors, and USB, GPIB, and Ethernet ports. The software is based on Windows XP. Waveforms may be imported from a Tektronix oscilloscope, other Tektronix AWGs, or third-party software like MatLab, MathCad, and Excel.
Mike Higashi, VP for Tektronix's Signal Sources products, says the AWG7000 minimizes complexity and provides the performance needed to match increasing serial data rates and the advance of wideband digital RF technologies.
"As system designs become more advanced and complex, the ability to create accurate signals in a realistic test environment becomes increasingly important," says Dave Erisman, CTO for X-COM Systems.
"The user interface and waveform development tools of the AWG7000 enable engineers to easily generate, very early in the development process, the exact waveform, data stream, or mixed signal needed for testing design concepts before committing them to hardware," Erisman adds. "The AWG7000 will definitely improve our ability to develop leading products and solutions for our customers."
Models range from the AWG7051 (3.5-GHz bandwidth, 5 Gsamples/s) starting at $60,000 to the high-end version with all of the options (5.8-GHz bandwidth, 20 Gsamples/s) at $108,000. All of these units are available now.