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Spectrum analyzers address explosion of digital RF apps

Posted: 11 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Tektronix? RSA6100A? spectrum analyzers? DPX waveform image processor?

Tektronix Inc. has announced the RSA6100A series of real-time spectrum analyzers that promises a combination of real-time performance, capture bandwidth and dynamic range to meet the needs of a broad range of cutting-edge digital RF applications.

DPX waveform image processor technology transforms volumes of real-time data to produce a live RF spectrum presentation that reveals previously unseen RF signals and signal anomalies. Live RF is achieved by improving the spectrum measurement rate nearly 1,000 times compared to the fastest swept spectrum and vector signal analyzers (VSA).

Test instruments for digital RF require wide bandwidth with high dynamic range, fast signal capture, and the ability to fully correlate the time, frequency and modulation domains. Tektronix said the first offerings in its new RSA6100A seriesthe 6.2GHz RSA6106A and 14GHz RSA6114Apromise industry-leading 110MHz real-time bandwidth simultaneous with 73 dB spurious-free dynamic range. The RSA6100A series provides world-class capabilities suited to the needs of a broad range of digital RF applications, from power amplifiers for advanced cellular radios to the latest pulsed radar signal, said the company.

"The combination of exploding technical capabilities brought about by digital RF combined with an equal increase in demand for more functionality and mobility has created unprecedented innovations in wireless communications," said Rick Wills, CEO and chairman of Tektronix. "Tektronix recognized several years ago that digital RF creates a highly complex technical environment and the emerging need for test tools whose capabilities mirror the time-varying nature of today's signals. The RSA6100A series of real-time spectrum analyzers are the most capable and effective instruments available for solving even the most demanding digital RF test challenges."

Waveform image processing tech
DPX waveform image processor technology displays the live spectrum by processing more than 48,000 spectrum measurements per second. This is orders of magnitude more information than is shown by any other spectrum analyzer, Tektronix said, minimizing the analysis gaps inherent in swept spectrum and vector signal analyzers. This compares to a maximum of 50 spectrums per second for all other analyzers. To achieve over 48,000 spectrum measurements per second, the device makes use of dedicated, real-time hardware to process the incoming signal. By minimizing the signal gaps, the RSA6100A provides users with a live RF signal view, unlike anything they have ever seen, the company said. This is achieved with a 100 percent probability of intercept for signals as brief as 24s.

In addition to live RF, the waveform image processor also provides an intensity-graded persistence display that holds anomalies until the eye can see them to show the history of occurrence for dynamic signals and immediate feedback on signal variations over time. This provides engineers the ability to rapidly see on screen both transients and signals that ordinarily could not be seen, either because they are masked by other signals or could only be deduced after time consuming offline analysis. DPX waveform imaging will enhance productivity by quickly capturing elusive anomalies and transient events, Tektronix said, improving accuracy and accelerating design debug.

Measurement-centric interface
User Experience designers at Tektronix researched spectrum analyzer usage and customer needs to determine requirements for the RSA6100A series. Based on their findings, the RSA6100A has a measurement-centric user interface designed to be intuitive and seamless, enabling engineers to focus on their analysis of the signal without worrying about the configuration of the instrument. The interface is easy to use by traditional RF designers as well as digital signal processing experts.

The measurement-centric interface of the RSA6100A includes default settings for each of the particular measurements. These intelligent presets speed set-up and measurement time, but the engineer still has the ability to manually override the settings for added control if needed, explained the company. The RSA6100A also provides engineers a 10.4-inch XGA touch screen display, mouse/keyboard and conventional front panel controls. Microsoft Windows XP reduces the learning curve for those new to making RF measurements and streamlines operations.

"Tektronix' real-time spectrum analyzers are the first and only analyzers designed specifically to solve digital RF problems," said Rick King, VP, real-time spectrum analyzer product line of Tektronix. "The RSA6100A series is the first RF analyzer to simultaneously deliver 110MHz real-time bandwidth and 73dB spurious-free dynamic range, enabling the design of advanced and next generation RF systems with wide capture bandwidth and no sacrifice in dynamic range. The live RF spectrum display provided by DPX waveform image processing provides engineers a view into signal instabilities and transients that they never knew existed. The RSA6100A is a perfect fit for the measurement needs of digital RF and will become a fundamental test instrument fueling the expansion of wireless communications."

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