Keysight Signal Studio

Communications test takes center stage in 2015

March 11, 2015

Innovations in high-speed digital test have taken center stage early this year, at least in part thanks to the stage provided by DesignCon held January 27-29 in Santa Clara. (Watch for EE-Evaluation Engineering’s April print issue for more on DesignCon.) Vendors have also introduced wireless test products—many highlighted at the Mobile World Congress held March 2-5 in Barcelona.

Targeting high-speed digital test, Keysight Technologies introduced and presented at DesignCon the N1930B Physical Layer Test System (PLTS) 2015, the latest release of its signal-integrity test software for designing and validating high-speed digital interconnect. (For more, see “Keysight debuts Physical Layer Test System 2015.”) Since DesignCon, the company has continued to introduce products that support high-speed digital design and test: see “Keysight debuts Infiniium V-Series oscilloscopes” and “Keysight debuts BGA interposer for probing DDR4 x16 designs.”

Also at DesignCon, Anritsu teamed its MP1800A BERT Signal Quality Analyzer with a Teledyne LeCroy 10 Zi oscilloscope to showcase how engineers can successfully develop high-speed channels using 32G NRZ and PAM-4 waveform generation and jitter analysis. Since the show, Anritsu has introduced a new compact VNA—see “Anritsu introduces ShockLine 1-port USB vector network analyzers.” And also since DesignCon, Teledyne LeCroy and its sister company Teledyne Scientific & Imaging announced a university research initiative that employed their technologies to reach record-breaking signal transmission speeds—see “Chalmers University uses multiple technologies from Teledyne.”

Tektronix introduced TekScope Anywhere, which decouples analysis tools from the oscilloscope, enabling engineers to do much of their work away from the lab, gain advice from colleagues or managers who are away from the lab, and in general collaborate more effectively with colleagues. See “TekScope Anywhere enhances collaboration, boosts productivity.”

Connector and cable companies have been active as well. For example, TE Connectivity at DesignCon highlighted its STRADA Whisper Backplane Interconnection System and outlined its strategy for moving to PAM-4, should the industry adopt that technology. Since the show, TE Connectivity announced a plan to create a standard for a new 100-Gb/s form-factor pluggable interconnect with the functionality of QSFP28 in a thermally enhanced package approximately the size of the SFP form factor by way of a new multisource agreement group—see “TE Connectivity plans pluggable form factor MSA.” In addition, the company announced its new micro SFP+ connector and cable assembly—see “Connector and cable assembly improves signal routing, minimizes EMI.”

Software products with applicability to communications test have also appeared this year. Keysight’s EEsof Division has announced 2015 versions of two software packages—see “Keysight unveils silicon RFIC interoperability in ADS” and “GoldenGate delivers new and enhanced capabilities.”

In addition, ANSYS and Computer Simulation Technology showed of simulation tools at DesignCon. ANSYS highlighted signal-integrity and power-integrity analysis for the chip, package, and board combination. Computer Simulation Technology highlighted its CST STUDIO SUITE 2015 (see “CST demonstrates EDA simulation features at DesignCon”), first introduced last fall, and introduced its new CST EMC STUDIO (which will be described in more detail in our April print edition).

Among other software companies at DesignCon, Mentor Graphics presented its HyperLynx and Nimbic technologies for electrical sign-off. And EMA Design Automation, a Cadence Design Systems channel partner supporting OrCAD, PSpice, Sigrity, and Allegro, highlighted its PCB development software and engineering data-management tools.

Mobile World Congress

At the Mobile World Congress, Keysight demonstrated its new N7608B Signal Studio for custom modulation software. The new software makes it easier to create custom waveforms for 5G applications. In the early stages of 5G research, flexibility is the key to investigating new waveforms, frequency bands and bandwidths.

Signal Studio for custom modulation provides this flexibility through a suite of tools that enables creation of emerging 5G candidate waveforms, such as filter bank multicarrier (FBMC), as well as custom OFDM and I/Q configurations. For accurate testing of hardware designs, the software provides connectivity to Keysight signal generators and arbitrary waveform generators (AWGs).

“This enhancement to Signal Studio is another powerful addition to our industry-leading range of design and test tools that support the development of communication systems for 5G wireless and satellite applications,” said Satish Dhanasekaran, marketing manager of Keysight’s Microwave and Communications Division, in a press release. “By providing easy access to the right test signals, Signal Studio for custom modulation streamlines development, allowing researchers to try more candidate signals in less time as they explore next-generation waveforms.”

The new capabilities are also useful in aerospace/defense applications such as military communications and satellites that often utilize custom or proprietary waveforms not directly supported by commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) test equipment. For these applications, Signal Studio includes custom I/Q quick setups such as digital video (for instance, DVB-S2X APSK), custom SOQPSK, and custom OFDM that users can modify to fit their requirements.

Signal Studio for custom modulation is also the signal-creation companion to the 89600 VSA software with Option BHK, custom I/Q modulation analysis; and Option BHF, custom OFDM modulation analysis. As an example, a test engineer can save a custom OFDM VSA file in N7608B Signal Studio and recall the setup file in the 89600 VSA software to demodulate and analyze signals.

To produce test signals, Signal Studio for custom modulation supports the Keysight E8267D PSG microwave vector signal generator, N5172B EXG and N5182B MXG RF vector signal generators, and M8190A AWG. Pricing for N7608B Signal Studio for custom modulation starts at $2,000.

In addition, Rohde & Schwarz presented its over the top (OTT) application analysis solution for the first time at the Mobile World Congress. This solution enables network operators and mobile device manufacturers to quickly and easily analyze and assess the behavior of OTT apps on mobile devices. It is an additional software option for the established R&S CMW-PQA performance quality analysis test system. OTT apps are applications such as YouTube and WhatsApp that use mobile networks, but are not a service offered by the network operator. Such apps can cause uncontrolled data traffic on an operator’s network and excessively drain mobile phone batteries.

The R&S CMW-PQA OTT software now allows users to check which server the OTT app registers with, the number of connections it initiates and the network traffic volume it generates. The R&S CMW500 wideband radio communication tester, the core component of the R&S CMW-PQA, also offers a unique IP and protocol statistical analysis function that enables users to analyze how much the OTT app drains the mobile phone battery. The tried and tested PACE software from Rohde & Schwarz subsidiary ipoque integrates this precise application identification function into the device.

Also, the company announced that network operators, chipset makers, and user equipment manufacturers can now use the R&S CMW500 and R&S CMWcards graphical user interface (GUI) to verify the eMBMS functionality of mobile devices. Rohde & Schwarz said it has added the necessary test cases to its R&S CMWcards solution. Evolved multimedia broadcast multicast service (eMBMS) is an LTE service that enables the simultaneous transmission of mobile TV, videos, and other files to many users via all base stations and multiple cells.

The new test cases cover all signaling procedures and user experience tests for multicast scenarios, which can be flexibly arranged by the user. The unique R&S CMWcards GUI allows users to configure up to two MBMS single-frequency networks via drag and drop, each consisting of no more than two LTE cells. Parameters such as transmission reference time and procedures such as user equipment interest indications are easily retrievable. No programming knowledge is required. The integrated eMBMS service layer is another special feature of the R&S CMW500. It handles all broadcast and multicast service center (BMSC) server functions, effectively eliminating the need for an external eMBMS middleware as required by other test solutions.

The R&S CMW500 and R&S CMWcards also give users the option of verifying mobile devices throughout an entire wireless ecosystem. The test platform is the only one on the market to support all conventional roaming, mobility and interoperability tests with technologies including WCDMA, GSM, WLAN/Wi Fi and Release 10 carrier aggregation.

Find more communications test news here.

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