Spectrum Instrumentation has used its modular design philosophy to create a solution for customers wanting multi-channel AWGs. Having eight AWG channels on a single PCIe-card only 168 mm in length offers great new opportunities for very compact and affordable test systems. The addition of the two new 8-channel-cards to Spectrum's latest "65" series of PCIe Arbitrary waveform generators means that, using Spectrum's Star-Hub, up to 80 channels can be fully synchronized in a single PC. As standard, all cards of the "65" series offer a huge on-board memory of 512 MSamples to store and replay lots of waveforms. Using the PCIe-x4 platform, these AWGs provide a data transfer speed which is 5 to 10x higher than in other solutions, offering 700 MByte/s of FIFO streaming speed. This is well suited for automated testing when customers need to replay lots of different test signals over many channels to accurately recreate real world test conditions. Applications include component testing, automotive, robotics, aerospace, medical and industrial ultrasound, LIDAR, radar and sonar.
Offering up to 8 channels per card, the cost per channel is cut dramatically. The system cost of Spectrum card-based AWG solutions are also significantly less expensive than dedicated, self-contained AWG solutions that can be several times more expensive; even when allowing for the cost of a PC to house the Spectrum cards. This makes Spectrum's high-performance test solutions really affordable and opens up new application areas that were restricted due to the high costs of multi-point, dedicated AWG solutions.
To better simulate and stimulate real-world conditions for testing, the cards have more memory on board than other AWG cards. The 512 MSamples of memory enables the cards to store and replay many more, high quality, precision waveforms for faster automated testing applications that use signals in the frequency range from DC to 60 MHz.
The two new additions to the "65" family are the M2p.6533-x4 (priced at $6,570) with eight 40 MS/s channels and the M2p.6568-x4 (priced at $8,900) that can be configured with eight channels of 80 MS/s or four of 125 MS/s. Unlike the six previously released models that offer up to four channels, the new eight channel versions are equipped with an additional cooling system making them 2 slots wide. All eight models of the M2p.65xx series are half-length PCIe cards and only 168 mm in length. The maximum output swing, even with the 8 channel versions, is ±6 V into 1 MOhm or ±3 V into 50 Ohms. The cards are shipped with Spectrum's SBench 6 control software that allows out of the box operation for card control and signal generation.
Combining AWGs and digitizers
For applications that require the connection of AWGs and digitizers, such as stimulus-response or closed-loop applications, Spectrum's Star-Hub piggy-back module synchronizes up to 16 different M2p class products. The new M2p.65xx AWGs match perfectly with the M2p.59xx 16-bit digitizers released in 2018. The M2p.59xx digitizers offer one to eight channels with sampling rates between 20 MS/s and 125 MS/s. The Star-Hub distributes a common clock and all trigger signals to each card ensuring fully synchronous operation. Star-Hub systems are also perfect for situations where multiple test points, or arrays of sensors, need to be stimulated by different test signals at the same time.
AWG control and Signal Generation
Controlling and generating signals with the Spectrum AWGs is also easy and straight forward. The cards are fully programmable and drivers are provided, free of charge, to support the most popular languages (such as C++, VB.NET, C#, J#, Delphi, Java or Python) as well as third party software tools like LabVIEW and MATLAB. Alternatively, users can simply run Spectrum's own software, SBench 6 Professional.
Integrate into any Test System
Once installed in a PC, the AWG cards are easy to integrate with other test and measurement devices. The signal outputs as well as clock and trigger inputs are provided via front-panel SMB connectors. The front-panel also hosts four multi-function MMCX connectors, which can be used for different tasks such as additional digital output channels (marker channels), clock, trigger or status output as well as asynchronous I/O lines. This high level of connectivity allows the AWG cards to be easily adapted into most automated test system environments.