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Industry News / Test and Measurement

National Instruments Debuts 6.6 GHz Modular Instruments

October 24, 2008
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National Instruments (NI) announces a new RF vector signal analyzer, RF vector signal generator and PXI Express 18-slot chassis that offer flexible RF measurements up to 10 times faster than traditional RF instrumentation. The new software-defined modular instruments – the NI PXIe-5663 6.6 GHz RF vector signal analyzer and the NI PXIe-5673 6.6 GHz RF vector signal generator – are complemented by the NI PXIe-1075 18-slot high-bandwidth chassis. The NI PXIe-5663 can perform signal analysis from 10 MHz to 6.6 GHz with up to 50 MHz of instantaneous bandwidth. The NI PXIe-5673 delivers signal generation from 85 MHz to 6.6 GHz and up to 100 MHz of instantaneous bandwidth. The NI PXIe-1075 is the industry’s first PXI Express chassis with PCI Express lanes routed to every slot providing up to 1 GB/s per-slot bandwidth and up to 4 GB/s total system bandwidth.


The new RF modular instruments, which take full advantage of high-performance multicore processors, are ideal for high-speed RF and wireless automated test environments. With LabVIEW 8.6 to implement parallel measurement algorithms on multicore CPUs, engineers can use the new RF vector signal analyzer and RF vector signal generator to perform many common RF measurements significantly faster than traditional instruments. For example, the RF modular instruments can perform many individual WCDMA measurements more than 20 times faster than traditional instruments. With the ability to implement measurements such as adjacent-channel leakage ratio (ACLR) in only 8 ms, engineers can perform full WCDMA device characterizations up to five times faster.

Engineers also can use these instruments to perform general-purpose measurements faster. For example, a typical 50 MHz spectrum sweep with a 30 kHz resolution bandwidth takes just under 4 ms with an NI PXIe-8106 controller, while leading traditional instruments can take 100 ms or more for the same measurement. As new multicore processors are released, PXI-based RF measurement times will continue to decrease without requiring changes to the RF instrumentation or NI LabVIEW programming, thus ensuring maximum measurement performance, increased system longevity and decreased capital investment.

In addition to performance, the new RF modular instruments offer industry-leading measurement flexibility through a completely software-defined architecture. Engineers can develop and test wireless protocols by simply reconfiguring the software using standard-specific LabVIEW toolkits or writing their own custom modulation algorithms. NI and National Instruments Alliance Partners provide toolkits based on LabVIEW for many current and emerging communications technologies, including WiMAX, GPS, WCDMA, GSM, EDGE, broadcast video, 802.11, Bluetooth, OFDM and MIMO. In addition, engineers can integrate PXI RF instrumentation with more than 1,500 PXI modules including high-speed digitizers, signal generators and precision DC instruments to meet their complete test needs.

The new 6.6 GHz modular instruments achieve these new levels of performance using the latest commercial technologies including 16-bit digital-to-analog converters and analog-to-digital converters used to generate and digitize signals for superior dynamic performance. The NI PXIe-5673 RF vector signal generator uses direct RF upconversion to provide up to 100 MHz of RF bandwidth. Using an additional “impairments mode,” engineers can take advantage of an onboard field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to manually adjust the gain imbalance, IQ offsets and quadrature skew quickly. With baseband impairments optimized for a particular frequency, engineers can achieve better than -85 dBc of carrier and image suppression. The NI PXIe-5663 RF vector signal analyzer offers passband flatness and low phase noise so it can accurately measure modulated signals. For example, typical EVM performance for WCDMA is 0.8 percent at 2 GHz for more than 2,600 symbols. Additionally, typical EVM performance for WiMAX is -52 dB at 3.8 GHz.

The NI PXIe-1075 18-slot chassis provides eight hybrid slots that engineers can use for either PXI Express or PXI hybrid-slot-compatible modules to maximize reuse of existing PXI modules. Designed for high-performance systems, the NI PXIe-1075 chassis offers an operating temperature range of 0 to 50 degrees Celsius and provides integrated system monitoring features including power management, fan health and temperature monitoring for the entire chassis.

Recent Articles by National Instruments, Austin, TX

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