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PXIe Performance Vector Signal Analyzer

April 14, 2014
KEYWORDS analyzer / frequency
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Wireless communications is advancing at a fast pace, driven by the demand for higher data rates from an exploding number of users. Whether in commercial wireless or aerospace/defense applications, over-crowded frequency spectrum has forced engineers to resort to more complex signal and system design to transmit more data, more efficiently. Agilent Technologies, formed from Hewlett-Packard and soon to become Keysight Technologies, has played a critical role in enabling this progression through its development of test and measurement equipment. Since the invention of the audio oscillator in 1939, the company has advanced and evolved test and measurement equipment to meet increasingly complex engineering demands and is continuing to do so with the introduction of the M9393A PXIe performance vector signal analyzer, providing performance previously unseen in modular instrumentation.

Figure 1

Figure 1 M9393A PXIe performance vector signal analyzer.

The M9393A is a vector signal analyzer in a PXI form factor (see Figure 1) with frequency up to 27 GHz and provides speed, accuracy and modular flexibility ideal for automated test. The M9393A’s software enables consistent, fast, in-band and out-of-band analysis, covering EVM and ACLR, as well as harmonic and spurious measurements at speeds never seen before. The modular architecture of both the hardware and software are designed to provide an extensible, scalable solution that can evolve with signal analysis needs.

Combination of Accuracy and Speed

With amplitude accuracy of ±0.15 dB and extremely fast frequency and amplitude switching speeds, the M9393A is specifically designed to reduce test time, while testing to the tightest tolerances in design validation and manufacturing. Using technology developed by Agilent for solid-state switches and attenuators, the M9393A provides best-in-class switching speeds with excellent amplitude accuracy, repeatability and reliability. Frequency synthesis allows the M9393A local oscillator (LO) to tune from any frequency to any other frequency in the entire 9 kHz to 27 GHz range in less than 150 µsec, while consistently providing excellent phase noise. Another unique Agilent innovation is the RF calibrator circuit that enables built-in automatic field calibration, eliminating errors inherent with external cabling, and ensuring excellent repeatability over time and temperature. The M9393A offers significant speed advantages through the absence of YiG-tuned filters, which further reduces amplitude errors, and also through solid state attenuators, which ensure repeatable measurements without the risk of wearing out.

Clarity and Confidence in Results

As modulation formats become more complex, and test suites continue to expand, engineers are faced with the need to measure more without increasing cost, necessitating both measurement and development speed. Through a robust set of drivers and deep programmatic compatibility (including SCPI) with familiar X-Series measurement applications and the 89600 VSA software, the M9393A provides consistent, trusted results to decrease test development time. In addition to providing fast in-band measurements such as modulation quality and power, compatibility with the 89600 VSA software’s new stepped spectrum analysis option also enables high-speed spectrum measurements. By stepping and stitching together FFTs across the entire frequency range of the analyzer, the software allows the M9393A to make traditional in-band measurements of known signals, and also out-of-band measurements of unwanted signals like harmonics and spurs. This “sweeping” functionality, along with the remarkable speed of the M9393A, provides best- in-class performance.

Modular Extensibility with Room to Grow

The M9393A has been developed to address the test challenges engineers face today and those they will face tomorrow. To keep pace with evolving test needs and to maximize equipment reuse, the M9393A and its software have been designed to be truly modular, delivering extensibility and scalability in terms of the size of the system (number of channels) and functionality. Consisting of four modules spanning five slots, up to four M9393A’s can fit in a single 18-slot chassis, saving valuable rack and test space. User upgradeable options allow for fast, easy addition of capabilities, such as wider bandwidth, increased memory, and higher frequency range as needed. Access to intermediate points in the signal path is provided through front panel ports in order to facilitate incorporation of future modules or test equipment, taking microwave analysis scalability to the next level.

Evolving High-Performance Signal Analysis

The M9393A evolved from the proven designs of some of Agilent’s best instruments, along with some of Agilent’s newest innovations in microwave measurement technology. The M9393A’s downconverter module incorporates the circuit design from the front end of the N9030A PXA signal analyzer. This flagship analyzer has earned respect in all industries for its accurate results, and its downconverter circuitry is now a core component in the M9393A. The unique internal calibrator from the Fieldfox handheld network analyzers, designed to hold tight specifications across all temperatures, has been included as well. With this internal calibrator, and some added enhancements, the M9393A contains an extremely stable and repeatable amplitude and phase reference over the entire operating temperature range.

Rethink What’s Possible

Testing the latest radio formats, the need to meet ever more stringent system requirements, while facing an increasing number of tests, shorter deadlines and continued support of legacy standards, mean that faster test times and lower test uncertainty are more critical than ever before when it comes to meeting throughput and yield demands. The M9393A is designed to make it possible for engineers to meet these challenges head-on by incorporating state-of-the-art technology from across Agilent with the M9393A’s high-speed PXI backplane, providing the speed and accuracy you need.

With the fast tuning LO, 160 MHz analysis bandwidth, and high speed back-end processing, the M9393A allows extremely fast “sweeps,” across the entire 27 GHz frequency range, in a fraction of a second.  Even with narrow resolution bandwidths, the M9393A’s “sweep” rates of several hundred GHz per second is the best “speed to dynamic range” of any PXI analyzer to date. These capabilities enable fast search and identification of low level signals over a broad frequency range, even when those signals are buried in noise.

Figure 2

Figure 2 89600 VSA software provides fast spectrum analysis.

As a device moves from design to validation to manufacturing, different test tools are required. Because the M9393A is compatible with Agilent’s proven measurement science, including SystemVue ESL design software, the powerful 89600 VSA software and X-Series measurement applications, it provides consistency and confidence in measurement results across benchtop and modular signal analyzers, throughout the product development lifecycle (see Figure 2). In addition to the extensive feature set, the M9393A benefits from a three year standard warranty, compliance with N7800A TME software for calibration and 52 service centers worldwide, providing Agilent experts to calibrate and service your product.

The Performance Edge

The M9393A PXIe performance vector signal analyzer is Agilent’s latest innovation, the evolution of decades of microwave measurement expertise, now in modular instrumentation. Together with Agilent’s trusted measurement science, the M9393A provides confidence in test results from R&D to manufacturing to deployment. Core signal-analysis capabilities, along with hardware speed and accuracy, mean that the M9393A PXIe performance vector signal analyzer offers a solution that can be tailored to fit specific needs—today and tomorrow. Test with the M9393A and acquire the performance edge in PXI.

Agilent Technologies Inc.,
Santa Clara, CA,
www.agilent.com

Recent Articles by Agilent Technologies Inc., Santa Clara, CA

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