Wireless Systems Design

Tool Family Slashes Design-Verification Time

Baseband design iterations are known to incur costs while robbing designers of time. One way to avoid these pitfalls is by reducing the number of iterations. Agilent Technologies recently released Baseband Studio for that very purpose. This new product family provides a digital, intermediate-frequency (IF), radio-frequency (RF), or microwave-signal stimulus that emulates real-world signal conditions. Baseband Studio applications can help reduce the cost of test in the cellular, wireless-networking, and aerospace/defense industries. Initially, the applications will work with Agilent's E4438C ESG and E8267C PSG vector signal generators.

The four products enable three applications: fading, waveform streaming, and digital outputs. The N5115A Baseband Studio for fading provides digitally integrated single- and dual-channel fading simulation for baseband signals. Its initial offering will include W-CDMA and cdma2000 technologies, which are geared toward engineers doing RF qualification and wireless-terminal verification. Its price ranges from $16,500 to $59,000. The product is expected to support the Agilent 8960 wireless-communication test set by March 2004.

The N5110A Baseband Studio for waveform streaming deals with extremely long waveform files. These files reside on a PC's hard drive. With the N5110A, they can be streamed to an ESG or PSG vector signal generator. By converting the waveform into analog I/Q or RF signals, the signal generator can provide a real-time test stimulus for the wireless component or subsystem. The cost of the N5110A ranges from $54,500 to $64,500.

For the fading and waveform streaming of software applications, this family turns to the N5101A Baseband Studio PCI card. This tool performs operations on baseband signals. It also controls I/O functions in conjunction with signal-generation software and the waveforms that are generated by ESG and PSG baseband generators. This product is priced at $4500.

The last Baseband Studio product is the N5102A. With this digital-signal-interface module, the ESG and PSG vector signal generators can output baseband signals in digital I/Q or IF formats. Because the interface module provides a selection of logic types and connector types, it easily connects into the test system. In most cases, it eliminates the need for custom fixturing. This product's asking price is $7000.

The PCI card and interface modules both employ advanced Xilinx field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). As a result, they can become high-performance baseband processors. Such processors can be instantly reconfigured to accommodate the many signal formats that are processed by the Baseband Studio software applications.

On the heels of this product announcement, Agilent Technologies has come to market with a general-purpose 6-GHz active differential probe. With the E2696A InfiniMax, users of spectrum and network analyzers can make high-impedance measurements on differential signals. Engineers can use the probe to measure and quickly validate differential-signal designs. The design cycles are therefore shortened and costs reduced.

The E2696A active differential probe offers low 320-fF differential input capacitance for minimal reactive loading and signal disturbance in the system under test. The probe's variable spacing and Z-axis-compliant tips make it easy to probe differential signals on a variety of target configurations. This probe is available now for $10,378.

Agilent Technologies, Test and Measurement Organization
5301 Stevens Creek Blvd., MS 54LAK, Santa Clara, CA 95052; (800) 452-4844, www.agilent.com.

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