Test Vendors Stand Out on IMS Exhibit Floor

June 25, 2012. Test-equipment vendors highlighted various capabilities and instruments at the International Microwave Symposium. Specific areas of focus included noise measurements, wafer probing, nonlinear measurements, radar test, and wireless communications test.

As previously reported, Agilent Technologies highlighted a variety of new and recently introduced products that support design simulation and measurement automation. Aeroflex announced that it has added IEEE 802.11ac capability to its S-Series RF signal generator and analyzer product line. And Anritsu introduced noise-figure measurement capability for its VectorStar MS4640A and ME7838A vector network analyzers.

In addition, Anritsu demonstrated millimeter-wave (mm-wave) emission testing using its MS2830A signal analyzer and BridgeWave Communications' 80 GHz Wireless Ethernet Bridge. Anritsu noted that the cellular industry is adopting E-band (60 to 90 GHz) gigabit data rate radios for 4G/LTE backhaul needs, due to the generous amount of spectrum available, allowing for the multi-gigabit transmissions carriers will require as they look to solve the backhaul bottleneck challenge.

Anritsu also introduced a 4-port configuration for its ME7838A VectorStar that extends the VNA measurement system’s capability to 750 GHz and higher. The ME7838A provides R&D engineers designing 4-port or differential mm-wave components with the ability to sweep power across a wide range at frequencies up to 750 GHz using external mm-wave modules without the need for manual attenuators. The company also introduced the Site Master S331L cable and antenna analyzer, which serves in the deployment, installation, and maintenance of wireless networks.

Wireless Telecom Group addressed the need for circuit designers to closely examine their Vcc and ground architectures as component integration and ultrafast switching increases, causing noise to permeate the power supply. The company's approach is to use the Noisecom JV9000 noise generator to inject clearly defined, repeatable noise levels to Vcc to let engineers study their systems' noise response.

Rohde & Schwarz highlighted a variety of instrument features at the show. The company said a new R&S FSW signal-analyzer pulse-measurement option (FSW-K6) speeds up analysis of radar systems. In addition, the R&S FSW-K17 option for the FSW enables the signal analyzer to perform group-delay measurements, which traditionally have been carried out using a vector network analyzer. Also for the FSW, the company added support for analyzing 802.11ac signals with bandwidths up to 160 MHz.

Rohde & Schwarz also announced enhancement to its R&S ZNB vector network analyzers. The ZNB-K4 software option supports frequency-converter measurements; it includes a graphical wizard that simplifies the setup and execution of complex measurements. In addition, the ZNB-K14 option enables the ZNB instruments to measure intermodulation distortion.

NMDG addressed nonlinear measurement capabilities, announcing the ability to accurately characterize and model the behavior of mixers using the firm's ZVxPlus nonlinear extension kits for the Rohde & Schwarz ZVA/ZVT series vector network analyzers. The new capability takes advantage of the extended multiport measurement feature in NMDG's Integrated Component Characterization Environment (ICE) software. NMDG said its “primary mixer S-functions” model is similar to S-parameter models and can be cascaded with other blocks.

Mesuro representatives were also on hand, who highlighted open-loop, active harmonic load-pull solutions to support the design and manufacture of RF and microwave devices and amplifiers. The company's measurement solution integrates patented hardware with its WaveForm Engineering software suite.

Noise XT introduced its NXA Series phase-noise analyzers, which feature a one-box design and a 14″ touch screen. The instrument is available in 6-, 26-, and 50-GHz versions. The instrument uses a dual-channel architecture to cancel its internal noise.

Cascade Microtech was on hand to highlight a variety of wafer-probing capabilities. The company exhibited its InfinityQuad probes, which support four-quadrant probing of a device under test. Cascade described the challenges of small-pad probing that the InfinityProbe devices alleviate; the challenges include large probe-tip to contact area, poor tip planarity, overtravel-to-skate ratios, tip accuracy, high contact resistance on aluminum pads, side skating, and yaw-axis errors. The company also presented an application note that describes N+1-Port SOLT/SOLR calibration for the probes.

National Instruments highlighted new connectivity between the NI LabVIEW system design software and the AWR Visual System Simulator (VSS) software for RF and microwave system design. The company calls the initiative the first major joint development between NI and AWR following NI’s acquisition of AWR, adding that the new connectivity helps engineers to better use measurements in the design flow by executing LabVIEW code directly from the AWR design environment.

The AWR Design Environment can now incorporate LabVIEW signal-processing capabilities, including multirate digital signal processing (DSP), wireless standards, modulation, and fixed-point math. Engineers can integrate VHDL and LabVIEW FPGA Module code through NI FPGA-based hardware directly into VSS diagrams, and new connectivity to both PXI and traditional RF instrumentation makes it easier to incorporate measurement data into simulations.

In addition, NI said it is collaborating with TU-Dresden on the exploration of new technologies for 5G wireless systems using NI LabVIEW system design software.

And finally, Averna was on hand to highlight its family of RF record and playback systems, such as the RP-5300 multi-channel compact RF recorder that can capture real-world RF signals with impairments for GNSS and similar applications.

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