Agilent Technologies Inc. announced that its six microwave synthetic instruments are the first Class A LXI (LAN eXtension for Instruments) products to achieve certification from the LXI Consortium. These high performance synthetic instruments support the US Department of Defense (DoD) NxTest vision of flexible, modular and compact instrumentation.

"Our newly certified modules demonstrate Agilent's commitment to the future of test as represented by both NxTest and LXI," said Pat Byrne, president of Agilent's Electronic Measurements Group. "They also highlight our ability to leverage proven microwave technologies into innovative solutions that serve the needs of the DoD, its prime contractors and other customers who can benefit from the flexibility of modular instrumentation."

The synthetic instrument concept involves the linking of individual hardware and software modules to emulate standard test instruments in a compact form factor. The result is a common system architecture that enables the DoD's prime contractors to design scalable, morphable automated test systems (ATS) that can accommodate new measurement applications and future technology updates. The ability to reuse or replace functional modules to suit present and future measurement scenarios will reduce the total lifetime cost of an ATS by extending system longevity and providing obsolescence protection.

The LXI standard includes a variety of form factors -- including small, modular instruments -- that use low cost, open-standard LAN (Ethernet) as the system backbone. One goal of the standard is to offer the size and integration advantages of modular instruments without the cost and constraints of cardcage-based architectures. The standard will evolve to take advantage of future LAN capabilities that go well beyond legacy test and measurement connectivity capabilities.

The six modules, described below, are also part of Agilent Open, which provides system-ready convenience and flexible connectivity:

  • N8201A: This 26.5 GHz downconverter provides IF output frequencies of 7.5, 21.4 and 321.4 MHz, enabling three different signal-bandwidth capabilities. External mixing can be used to downconvert microwave signals as high as 110 GHz.

  • N8211A: This 20/40 GHz analog upconverter generates a stimulus signal with superior AM, FM and pulse-modulation capabilities (external or internal modulation). It also provides high output power, low phase noise and excellent level accuracy.

  • N8212A: This 20 GHz vector upconverter functions as a microwave source with greater than 2 GHz I/Q modulation bandwidth. It features AM, FM and pulse modulation (external or internal modulation), and multisource coherent carrier capability.

  • N8221A: This 30 MS/s IF digitizer with a 21.4 MHz IF input provides 80 dB dynamic range, 14-bit resolution and 8 MHz modulation bandwidth.

  • N8241A: This arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) features simultaneous 1.25 GS/s sampling and 15-bit resolution. It offers dual-channel, single-ended and differential outputs, with 500 MHz of instantaneous analog bandwidth per channel.

  • N8242A: This AWG features a choice of either 1.25 GS/s or 625 MS/s with 10-bit resolution. It offers dual-channel, single-ended and differential outputs, with 500 or 250 MHz of instantaneous analog bandwidth per channel.