Microwave Journal

IMS2011 Product Wrap Up - Test Equipment and EDA

June 15, 2011

The biggest news of the show was National Instruments’ acquisition of AWR and Phase Matrix. This brings together the high frequency component capabilities of Phase Matrix to NI hardware and the modeling expertise of AWR for integration with the test systems. David Vye was able to interview the NI and AWR CEOs at the show. We were also able to get a video interview from the NI Marketing Director. NI now has PXIe vector networks analyzers and signal network analyzers with industry leading performance. See of exclusive video interview with the CEOs of NI and AWR. and NI's overview of the AWR/Phase Matrix acquisition.

Aeroflex was demonstrating and answering questions about their PXI-based common platform test solutions to attendees focused on LTE test. Specifically, the company has launched two new options for the Aeroflex 7100 LTE Digital Radio Test Set to support testing of 3G WCDMA/HSPA and GSM/GPRS, and data call hand-over between LTE and HSPA.

The 7100 LTE Digital Radio Test Set with Option 103 provides comprehensive test capabilities for GSM/GPRS. Option 105 extends the instrument’s capability to include WCDMA and HSPA. The deployed terminal devices will need to The 7100 provides manufacturers of both cellular terminals and chipsets with a simple unified test environment to fully test all the radio access technologies (RAT) supported by the terminal devices under test that need to support these legacy standards.

Aeroflex also announced the addition of popular avionics waveforms to its S-Series signal generator family. The Aeroflex SGA analog signal generator with Option 6 adds internal generation of waveforms required for testing avionics functions. The new option includes waveforms for Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), VHF Omni-directional Radio (VOR), marker beacons, and COM ID tones for airport identification. Avionics parameters are presented in the same form as described in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

Agilent as a major sponsor of IMS2011 always makes the most of this show with its presence and participation - from organizing its partnering companies into the Agilent Avenue “Pavilion” to sponsoring and co-organizing the MicroApps sessions. Equally impressive is the number of new product releases announced every year at IMS.

The company introduced five new PNA microwave vector network analyzer models based on Agilent’s PNA-X architecture. The PNA family includes the PNA-L, PNA and PNA-X Series, covering frequencies from 300 kHz to 1.05 THz. The PNA-L is designed for general-purpose network analysis; the PNA is the company’s high performance vector network analyzer available with two-port internal single-source or four-port internal dual-source configuration in five frequency models: 13.5, 26.5, 43.5, 50 and 67 GHz, high source output power of +11 dBm at 67 GHz ( N5227A 67 GHz model) and a 0.1 dB receiver compression point higher than +10 dBm (all models). Meanwhile, the PNA-X provides complete linear and nonlinear component characterization in a single instrument with a single connection and can perform noise figure measurements, gain compression, two-tone IMD/spectrum analysis, true-mode stimulus, source phase control and fast CW mode.

In addition to the PNA series, the company introduced its ENA Series of network analyzers, the E5072A vector network analyzer, available as either a two-port, 30-kHz to 4.5-GHz or 8.5-GHz instrument. The E5072A, available with a sweep time of 4 ms with 401 points, is designed for cost-sensitive manufacturing customers requiring higher performance than comparably priced RF network analyzers, addressing this need with enhanced capability and performance at an affordable cost.

Agilent has also entered the peak power test equipment market with the introduction of its 8990B analyzer for the aerospace, defense and wireless markets. Combined with either the new N1923A or N1924A wideband power sensors, which cover a frequency range of 50 MHz to 18 GHz and 50 MHz to 40 GHz, respectively, the 8990B peak power analyzer achieves 5 nanosecond rise time/fall time, the fastest overall rise time/fall time in the peak-power market.

For testing radar and EW systems, the company introduced N7620A Signal Studio for pulse building software enables the creation of highly realistic test signals. New options add the generation of pulse-width and pulse-repetition interval patterns, which enhance the realism of radar simulations. Impairments such as jitter and wobulation add even greater realism to simulated pulsed-RF signals. Options include a wide variety of antenna scan and radiation patterns, enabling accurate modeling of antenna behavior. Signals created with Signal Studio for pulse building can be downloaded into instruments such as the Agilent E8267D PSG vector signal generator. A recent enhancement to the PSG, Option UNY, typically provides -143 dBc/Hz phase noise (10-kHz offset, 1-GHz signal), which is required for precise simulation of moving-target-indicator (MTI) and pulsed-Doppler radar signals.

On the software side, the folks at Agilent EEsof EDA introduced a new Eigenmode solver to their EMPro product as well as cut-planes in the 3D modeler that allows the user to view internal details of complex structures and easily snap to internal objects. Animated electromagnetic field visualization enhancements provide improved design insight while the Eigenmode solver helps designers quickly find the resonant frequencies for RF structures such as cavity filters. EMPro is integrated with the company’s popular ADS RF/microwave circuit design environment. See our 4 video demos from the show of Agilent products.

Anritsu was featuring a number of test solutions in their booth including a new Jitter modulation source and the MP1825A 4 Tap Emphasis converter, which were designed for integration with the MP1800 Signal Quality Analyzer. The configuration supports jitter tolerance and generates emphasis signals up to 28 Gbit/s for evaluation of high-speed interconnects common to PCBs found in digital transmission equipment and computer backplanes.

A test instrument that may be more familiar to the microwave community, was the new ME7838A broadband vector network analyzer (VNA) system introduced by Anritsu. This impressive broadband VNA provides single-sweep coverage from 70 kHz to 110 GHz with operation from 40 kHz to 125 GHz, and utilizes an advanced design that eliminates the need for large, heavy millimeter wave (mmWave) modules and coax combiners. Most test engineers taking S-parameter at mmwave frequencies are very familiar with the large and cumbersome external modules that extend standard microwave VNAs for use at these higher frequencies. Besides for consuming considerable bench space, these frequency extenders make it difficult to apply signals directly to die on wafers without the use of performance hindering coax cables. The ME7838A provides broadband device characterization of active and passive MW/mmWave devices, including those designed into emerging 60 GHz wireless personal area networks, 40 Gbps and higher optical networks, 77 and 94 GHz automotive radar, digital radio links, 94 GHz imaging mmWave radar, and Ka-Band satellite communications. See of video demo of the new Anritsu VNA.

ANSYS, which acquired Ansoft several years ago, was on hand to introduce a new finite array analysis with domain decomposition to its HFSS product, a leading industry tool for 3D EM simulation. This HPC parallel computing technique leverages the breakthrough domain decomposition solver to efficiently set up and analyze large, finite sized antenna arrays. The user simply draws the unit cell geometry of a repeating array element, then defines the size and shape of the array, solution setup and solves. Efficiencies in solution are realized through parallel computing on one or more networked machines. The solution captures the effects of finite sized array such as edge effects for radiation patterns and coupling matrices. In general any repeating design such as photonic band-gap structures frequency selective surfaces or even multi-wafer backplane connectors can take advantage of this technique for efficient computing of finite sized geometrically repeating structures.

The company was also demoing Solver on Demand in Designer RF, which provides a layout driven or “electrical CAD” flow for the rigorous solution from HFSS. This interface provides for many engineers an intuitive and easy to use entry point for HFSS. Many aspects of the simulation process are greatly simplified allowing for faster and more automated setup for simulation saving valuable engineering time and money. In addition this interface provides a closer link to many of the more common EDA design tools along with a more generic interface for the industry standard ODB++ format. Built in the Designer RF layout interface it provides a very tight link between rigorous full wave electromagnetics from HFSS and circuit/system analysis.

AWR apart from the big news of their acquisition by National Instruments, was very eager to display the latest product enhancements and features to the Microwave office, VSS, ACE, AXIEM and Analog Office products. The big push was to introduce show attendees to the company’s enhancements for Design sharing (group design), which targets the needs of enterprise-level design activity among global engineering organizations. The new features make it easier to manage data (schematics, layout, EM analysis and measurements) and resolve conflicts as sub-designs are shared and combined into modules or sub-systems by collaborating design groups. Other new features include simulation state management (allows large amounts of simulation results, optimization and Monte Carlo analyses to be managed by MWO, AO and AXIEM), enhanced yield analysis, RF aware short/open connection checker, and floating windows that can be pulled outside the run-time window for analysis. See of exclusive video interview with the CEOs of NI and AWR.

Cascade Microtech was featuring a new probe repair program to protect customer's investment and lower the cost of ownership. They repair ACP, Infinity and the majority of multi-contact probes at a fixed price and guarantee they will operate as good as new.

Constant Wave was showing off their Spectro VNA(tm) and VSA(tm) analysis software which is featured in our June issue. They add spectrograhpic analysis to VNAs and VSAs and are compatible with most models and manufacturers.

Computer Simulation Technology (CST) announced the release of new high performance computing options for CST MICROWAVE STUDIO®version 2011. Significantly, the CST Simulation Acceleration scheme provides customers with a choice of high performance computing (HPC) features. Notably the GPU computing capability has proven to be a success, since significant speed-ups can be achieved with a very reasonable investment. The CST MICROWAVE STUDIO 2011 transient solver now supports NVIDIA® TeslaTM 2o series (codename Fermi). Employing the new generation of GPUs, results in a significant increase in performance.

Cluster computing is the best option for exceptionally large or complex models. Communication between nodes is becoming a critical bottleneck, in particular if the nodes are equipped with GPUs. The company’s MPI solution now supports Infiniband, a high throughput, low latency interconnection that helps ensure the solution’s scalability. Besides the established solutions for the CST MWS transient and direct Integral Equation solver, MPI based parallelization is now also available for the Integral equation solver with MLFMM. This solver is dedicated to the simulation of electrically very large problems.

Finally, CST STUDIO SUITE comes with a simple job-queuing system: the Job Control Center, ensuring easy integration with free or commercial systems such as the Load Sharing Facility (LSF) or the Oracle Grid Engine (OGE).

DaisyRF was a new find for us as they supply wireless portable power meters featuring a wireless interface between the remote power unit and handheld display. It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency range to transmit up to 100 meters.

Holzworth talked about their high performance synthesizers that have over 200,000 hours of operation, best in class channel to channel stability and operate over -40 deg to +75 deg C. Their phase noise analyzers operate over 5 MHz to 6.7 GHz with 20 MHz offsets and they now offer complete phase noise test systems custom made to applications.

Maury’s message to its customers is that they are a solutions-oriented company offering turnkey measurement and modeling device characterization solutions. Highlighting relationships with strategic partners, Maury showcased its PNA-X based patent-pending ultra-fast ultra-accurate noise parameter solution, PNA-X based high-power load pull X-Parameter modeling solution, and PNA-X based passive, active and hybrid active vector-receiver load pull solution with Agilent Technologies; its BILT Pulsed IV Pulsed S-Parameters solution and its IVCAD measurement and modeling software suite with partner AMCAD Engineering; and its patent-pending turnkey Mixed-Signal Active Load Pull solution uniquely capable of wideband impedance control for modulated signals. Maury’s component division highlighted its noise calibration solutions including cryogenic terminations, its world-renowned VNA calibration kits, and its new TactiCal line of coaxial adapters.

The focus for Mician was version 7.7 of µWave WizardTM 7.7, with the full version including the radiation feature and library. µWave Wizard is a design tool using the well-known fast and accurate Mode-Matching (MM) technique. This method is particularly suitable for simulation and optimization of passive microwave systems and components, including antennas. The MM and its derivatives (i.e. the fast hybrid MM/boundary contour and the MM/2D-finite-element method) are capable of simultaneously offering fast processing speed and high accuracy.

Aiming to combine speed with flexibility Microwave Innovation Group (MIG) highlighted the latest technology enhancements to its efficient WASP-NET hybrid EM CAD and optimization tool, which now features a new user-friendly graphical 3D structure editor for the convenient generation and implementation of arbitrary 3D structures. Parameterized variables and the inclusion of materials of any shape and properties enable the user to efficiently and rigorously optimize microwave and antenna structures of varying complexity and utilize WASP-NET’s high optimization speed. Through the 3D CAD data import feature, structures can be deconstructed into component parts and combined with additional/different elements, including higher-order modes. Also, the typical optimum hybrid MM/FE/MoM/FD/FE-BI/PTD CAD speed of WASP-NET is combined with the highest EM CAD flexibility. A new, fast integral equation (IE) solver for large antenna problems offers high CAD efficiency even for very complex structures such as frequency selective surfaces (FSS), layered reflect-arrays and for radar cross-section (RCS) or the investigation of antenna placement on large structures such as ships.

Modelithics held a dart throwing contest in their booth to highlight the challenges of getting ones design “on target” without proper RF component models. Founder Larry Dunleavy was pleased to talk about the new X-parameter measurement services that his company provides through the company’s cooperation with Agilent Technologies.

NMDG announced that the list of DC pulsers and pulsed DC receivers supported in the company’s ICE software platform has been extended with the Focus MPIV pulsed IV system and the Rohde & Schwarz RTO scope. Using NMDG extension kits for vector network analyzers, the user is able to characterize the nonlinear behavior of HF components both in time and frequency domain under realistic conditions, even in a non-50 Ω environment.

Schmid & Partner Engineering AG (SPEAG) showcased the state-of-the-art solver, SEMCAD X Microwave, which is based on the Mode Matching Technique for the simulation of passive waveguide structures within the solver’s simulation suite. The new solver has been integrated into the existing SEMCAD X framework to provide the user with a commonly elaborated simulation environment. Together with the EM and thermal solvers based on the FDTD techniques, SEMCAD X Microwave can be applied to a wide variety of electromagnetic problems ranging from microwave devices, EMC, optics, to bio-medical applications.

Taking pride of place on the Rohde & Schwarz booth was the R&S ZNB network analyzer, which along with the R&S ZNC network analyzer, is claimed to redefine network analysis with wider dynamic range, short measurement times and ease of use. The R&S ZNB, the more powerful of the two instruments, is said to provide development labs and production lines with performance characteristics previously found only in high-end analyzers. It covers the frequency range from 9 kHz to 4.5 GHz or 8.5 GHz and is available both in two-port and four-port models. Its wide dynamic range of 140 dB, low trace noise of 0.004 dB (RMS) and high output power of up to +13 dBm, which can be adjusted electronically in a range of 90 dB, provide fast and accurate measurements. This ensures high throughput in production.

The R&S ZNC with a frequency range from 9 kHz to 3 GHz is a cost-efficient alternative for users who do not have such high requirements regarding dynamic range and functional scope. It is available with two test ports and offers a sweep time of 11 ms with 401 points and a dynamic range of up to 130 dB. Its primary use is for testing passive RF components such as filters or cables. Both new analyzers feature a dynamic range up to 140 dB, a sweep time of 4 ms with 401 points and good stability. They are designed for demanding applications in the production and development of RF components, particularly in the mobile radio and electronic goods industries.

Other key products from the company include the field-proven R&S SMBV100A that sets new standards in satellite simulation. With the addition of a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) simulator to this flexible, multi-purpose vector signal generator, the instrument can now generate customized scenarios for GPS and Galileo from up to 12 satellites in real time. Additionally oscilloscopes covering the complete operational and price spectrum are offered: the R&S RTO provides high performance up to 2 GHz, the R&S RTM series are mid-range scopes with 500 MHz bandwidth, while the HAMEG basic oscilloscopes operate up to 350 MHz. See our video demo of the R&S VNA offerings at the show.

Sonnet was featuring the latest version of their flagship planar EM simulation software, Sonnet Suites Release 13. The big news in this release was the 3X improvement in simulation speed, efficient micro-via array meshing, introduction of diagonal (off-grid) ports and components and enhanced integration to third party EDA tools. The company also doubled the allowed memory of its entry-level software suites including the free Sonnet-lite product.

Tekronix featured the RSA5000 Series mid-range spectrum analyzer combines the best in class RF performance up to 85 MHz bandwidth and 3rd Generation DPX® Technology. Real-time signal analysis includes the ability to see Amplitude, Phase, and Frequency versus time at rates up to 50,000/second. They also showed the AWG7000C Arbitrary Waveform Generator Series with up to 24 GS/s and 10 Bit vertical resolution that is ideal for wideband radio and radar signal generation applications or any application where complex signal creation is required. Finally, they were showing their Mixed Signal Oscilloscope Series offering up to 2 GHz bandwidth and 10 GS/s sample rate. The MSO/DPO5000 Mixed Signal Oscilloscope Series features affordable, yet powerful Windows®-based models.

Wireless Telecom Group (Boonton) was featuring Booton’s Amplifier Test Bench, a powerful software tool that is especially designed for verification and analysis of high power or small signal RF amplifiers. The software works with Boonton 4540 and 4500B power meters and is suited for pulsed, continuous or random (noise-like) signal operating over frequencies from 10 MHz to 40 GHz. The software supports a number of signal generators from various third party test and measurement equipment suppliers.

The Microlab division of Wireless Telecom Group was showing off their multi-signal combiner system for Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS). Leveraging the company’s broad range of catalog diplexers and hybrids, Microlab is able to rapidly create special configurations for various band requirements ranging from 380 to 520 MHz with cellular service extending from LTE 700 to WiMAX/LTE-2600, as well as services up to 6 GHz and applications such as in-building, trains, tunnels, etc. These multi-signal combiner systems have low-loss and excellent PIM performance.