Agilent Technologies Inc. introduced a plug-in module for its industry-leading 86100C digital communications analyzer (DCA) that allows engineers to simultaneously test multiple optical signals.

Simultaneous analysis of multiple optical signals provides two key benefits. First, testing several single-lane devices in parallel can dramatically reduce the effective cost of transceiver test. Second, as more optically based communications systems rely on a parallel scheme to increase effective transmission rates, the ability to observe several lanes of data at once becomes important.

Transceiver manufacturers face continual pressure to reduce the prices they charge for their products. They must also be able to respond quickly to large swings in customer volume requirements and simultaneously maintain high-level transceiver performance. The Agilent 86100C/86115D system helps transceiver manufacturers with all of these issues by providing cost-effective test and delivering the highest accuracy.

The 86115D optical reference receiver plug-in module can be configured with two or four optical ports. The 86100C DCA mainframe can accept up to two 86115D plug-in modules. As a result, the DCA system can monitor from two to eight optical signals. Each channel of the 86115D is designed for precision waveform analysis of optical transceivers operating at 8X or 16X Fibre Channel and 10-Gb SONET/SDH/Ethernet rates. The integrated optical receiver has an unfiltered bandwidth exceeding 20 GHz, and switchable compliant reference receivers. The 86115D allows complete waveform analysis over multiple transceiver technologies, from early R&D through volume manufacturing.

Virtually every high-volume manufacturing system employs various levels of automation to minimize test times. Firmware enhancements for the 86100C DCA mainframe streamline automated transceiver test. Enhancements include faster and more robust auto-scaling, utilities for fast laser tuning and an acquisition system that allows engineers to analyze multiple channels in parallel.

"By enabling multiple optical transceivers to be tested in parallel, the 86115D can provide a dramatic improvement in throughput," said Jay Alexander, Vice President and General Manager of Agilent's oscilloscopes business. "This improvement will dramaticaly lower the cost required to test each transceiver -- in many cases, our customers can expect a greater than 50 percent reduction in cost-of-test."