August 2010 Executive Interview
MWJ: What is the overall business outlook for Anritsu one year after the 2009 recession?
DM:Our sales are trending upward and we are cautiously optimistic that we will continue to show growth worldwide. There are a few reasons for this growth. First, Anritsu has been very active in the LTE standards development and our involvement in this technology from the very beginning puts us in a leadership position. This is advantageous for Anritsu, as major telecom operators in Japan, the United States and elsewhere are rolling out LTE services in 2010 and 2011. In China, which has the world’s largest mobile phone subscriber base, infrastructure is being upgraded for the expansion of 3G mobile services. This bodes well for us, as our handheld analyzers provide distinct advantages for installation and maintenance of these services.
MWJ: What markets look most promising for growth?
DM: Asia remains one of our core growth markets. As mentioned earlier, we are well positioned for the rollout of LTE in Japan and have the necessary field instruments required for upgrading the mobile networks in China. Our position as an LTE market leader is also helping our market share in the United States. Anritsu is the market leader in Bluetooth test instrumentation, which also presents opportunities globally. Finally, defense/aerospace spending continues to grow, offering opportunities for our general purpose RF and microwave instrumentation.
MWJ: I’ve seen a lot of new products coming out of Anritsu this year, has the past year been a highly productive one for R&D?
DM: One of our core philosophies is to invest aggressively in R&D. That investment, an integral part of Anritsu for more than 100 years, was particularly evident over the past 12 months. We have enhanced a number of platforms and product lines. Most notably, we introduced the new “E” platform of handheld analyzers, which provides all the tools necessary to deploy, maintain, and troubleshoot today’s most demanding wireless equipment and networks. Prior to that, we also changed the microwave VNA market with the introduction of our VectorStar™ series that uses an innovative new platform to deliver best-in-class frequency coverage, dynamic range, and measurement speed.
For the LTE market, we designed the MD8430A LTE Signaling Tester and Rapid Test Designer (RTD) software, which creates the only solution offering a complete LTE test environment.
MWJ: What are among your most promising new products?
DM:Anritsu has just introduced the MS272xC Spectrum Master™ series that provides up to 43 GHz frequency coverage – the broadest range ever available in a handheld spectrum analyzer. The MS272xC is vastly superior to existing handheld and benchtop spectrum analyzers, and eliminates the need to carry heavy benchtop spectrum analyzers into the field to measure signals above 20 GHz, such as those used in microwave backhaul and signal surveillance applications.
The ME7873L and ME7832L LTE Conformance Test Systems are being well received in the market place because they can provide RF and protocol validation of LTE devices. Each test system has achieved PTCRB and GCF validation for LTE bands in the Americas.
MWJ: Can you point to any specific new technologies that enabled these products?
DM: High-performance, miniaturized RF and microwave components designed for commercial user equipment have been leveraged extensively to build our handheld test equipment. The small size, low power consumption, and low heat rise of these components allow us to configure maximum measurement performance in highly portable packages.
For the ME7873L and ME7832L, technology is a contributing factor but as important is that they have test cases that have received PTCRB and GCF validation. Earning these third-party approvals ensures that our customers are validating their LTE devices in accordance with industry standards, an integral part of acceptance in the market.
MWJ: Your new RF/microwave signal generators (MG3690C series) released in May combine best-in-class phase noise and broad frequency generation, which should be particularly useful for testing and verifying radar systems. How does this signal generator and those performance metrics benefit radar test?
DM: One of the challenges for radar designers is increasing receiver sensitivity to either detect targets at longer range or to improve the ability to detect smaller or stealth targets, all of which lead to very low levels of target return.
The second challenge is to be able to resolve closely spaced targets or to resolve detail in an individual target.
microwave signal generators are used as either a local oscillator substitute or as a source of simulated target returns, there is a need for the signal generator to have low phase noise so that its performance does not mask that of the radar system under test.
By introducing the MG3690C series of signal generators, Anritsu is providing industry leading low levels of phase noise (e.g. -108 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offset at 40 GHz) that enable designers to be confident that they are focused on their design challenges and not issues arising from the test equipment.
MWJ: How does this signal generator benefit communication system designers?
DM: In general, communications systems performance is dictated in part by signal-to-noise ratios. In digitally modulated systems this is described by the terms Modulation Error Ratio (MER) or Error Vector Magnitude (EVM). These are both ways of quantifying the amount of noise around the ideal constellation points of digitally modulated signals.
The higher the order of the modulation scheme, the lower tolerance the system has to noise before bit errors occur. For example, 64QAM is less tolerant to noise than QPSK.
The new low levels of phase noise in the MG3690C translate to low levels of EVM. The MG3690C phase noise for a 10 GHz carrier translates into approximately 0.1% EVM, which is much less than usual system EVM levels of 1-2%. Hence, system tests where the MG3690C is used as a substitute LO are not masked by the performance of the signal generator.
MWJ: Your VNA known as VectorStar also has excellent dynamic range and wide frequency coverage (70 KHz to 70 GHz). Can you talk about the benefits of those performance metrics for the microwave designer?
DM: The advantages of wide dynamic range over a broad frequency range are beneficial to all microwave design and test engineers, especially those working in areas such as amplifier design and testing, device characterization or cable and connector design and testing.
VectorStar represents a significant advancement in VNA performance due to the merging of optimized RF analyzer performance with optimized microwave design. Combining bridges and mixers for the RF frequency range with couplers and samplers for the microwave frequency range overcomes the dynamic range limitation of microwave couplers at RF frequencies, thus satisfying the long-term need for better measurement accuracy below 2 GHz and throughout the lower RF frequency range. It is the combination of the two optimized solutions that allow VectorStar to provide the widest available frequency coverage in a single unit combined with excellent dynamic range.
The wide dynamic range of VectorStar benefits the users in two ways. First, higher filter stop-band rejections or greater isolation of switches can be measured. Second, the IF bandwidth can be opened wider, allowing much faster sweep speeds and measurement times that create efficiency benefits.
Providing the broadest available frequency range and particularly the lowest start frequency has many benefits. Three major examples are:
1. An amplifier might be operating at high RF or microwave frequencies. However issues such as poor ACPR might be caused by the bias circuits. VectorStar, with its start frequency of 70 kHz, saves the RF engineer significant troubleshooting time since it will not be necessary to set-up two different sets of test equipment.
2. On-wafer active device characterization requires accurate models used in EDA simulation supported by a wide range of accurate measurement data over a broad frequency span. The newly available frequency coverage of VectorStar provides the active device modeling community with new measurement data that will enable them to improve their models. Accurate models provide design engineers with accurate simulations, which are essential to reduce time to market and achieving first turn design success.
3. Design engineers in the cable and connector industry often use time domain processing to analyze and evaluate connector interface quality. The wider the frequency span, the better the resolution in the time domain display. The lower the start frequency, the more accurate the extrapolated DC term used to establish the time domain impedance reference. With a start frequency of 70 kHz and the widest sweep range available, VectorStar provides the most accurate, highest resolution time domain analysis tool yet available.
MWJ: I can imagine the wide frequency coverage and dynamic range are a real bonus for signal integrity engineers as well. How has this instrument been received by those folks?
DM: The signal integrity industry is quite excited by the possibility of performing differential time domain channel analysis down to 70 kHz, an option that has been lacking until introduction of the MN4690 VectorStar 4-port system. The recently introduced system takes advantage of the superior bandwidth capabilities of the VectorStar platform and extends it to channel differential measurements.
Traditionally, signal integrity measurements of connector interfaces have been performed using oscilloscopes with TDR functionality. VectorStar simulates this display using the low pass time domain mode of operation. The same benefits of frequency and dynamic range apply to accuracy of low pass time domain operation for TDR analysis. With a start frequency of 70 kHz and excellent dynamic range, VectorStar provides a superior interconnect analysis tool in both the frequency and time domain. When combined with advanced functions, such as fixture de-embedding, calibration flexibility, and EDA tools such as eye diagrams, the VectorStar VNA provides an excellent design and evaluation tool for the signal integrity industry.
MWJ: What are the leading challenges for mobile device testing today?
DM: Signal complexity and the modulation schemes associated with transmitting them have created many more layers of testing. Additionally, because of all the technologies now deployed, testing for various standards can add a layer of expense that increases the cost of test. That cost of test is further amplified by the need to create as many real world scenarios as possible. In such a highly competitive market, high test costs are simply unacceptable.
Fortunately, Anritsu has developed its test instruments with flexible platforms that allow users to add measurement capabilities as they need it. This controls the cost of test and helps create a test environment that accurately measures the devises.
MWJ: I’ve read about China Mobile’s selection of Anritsu's Protocol Conformance Test System (PCTS), for Inter-RAT handover testing between TD-SCDMA and GSM systems, what is involved in handover testing?
DM: Handover procedures must be executed by a mobile device in order to provide seamless mobility between areas that are covered by 3G TD-SCDMA and legacy GSM cellular networks. Handover testing in the laboratory using the Anritsu ME78070A Protocol Conformance Test System provides confidence that the device will perform correctly when deployed in the real-world environment. The system simultaneously simulates TD-SCDMA and GSM cells, sets up an active call using one radio access technology, and then conducts the necessary signaling exchanges with the device in order to transfer the call to the other cell. This all requires accurate control of RF power levels, and careful synchronization between the simulated TD-SDCMA and GSM cells. Anritsu provides over 50 3GPP standard test cases to give full coverage of the various TD-SCDMA/GSM interworking scenarios that are defined in the 3GPP TS34.123 test specification.
MWJ: Anritsu has a strong market position in handheld analyzers. Why do you suppose that is so?
DM: Anritsu created the handheld analyzer market more than a decade ago when we introduced the first generation Site Master™ cable and antenna analyzer. Since that time, we have invested time and resources to develop more handheld instruments that meet market demands. While they are technically advanced, we also recognize the need for practicality and ease of use. We have spent countless hours with customers in the field, spending time to learn about their needs and workflow. We take that knowledge and combine it with our technical proficiency to remain on top of the handheld analyzer market. Quite simply, we fanatically demonstrate continued and consistent commitment to this market.