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Agilent discusses Asia business, modular instruments

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Agilent Measurement Forum? LTE? modular instrument? education?

What is the impact of these trends? For our customers who are in R&D, time-to-market is key; hence design engineers will be looking for test instrumentations that can provide the highest accuracy, highest dynamic range, highest sensitivity to address their�ever-increasing design challenges. This is where Agilent's cutting-edge solutions can help our customers. In Vietnam, for instance, the government is investing in R&D alongside education.

On the other hand in manufacturing, time-to-volume is key. Having a test platform that is scalable, flexibility and lower total cost of ownership are key considerations of all operations managers. Again, Agilent has solutions that can address these needs.

Agilent offers the broadest range of design and test solutions from software design simulation (ADS, SystemVue) to design validation (Conformance test DDR3, EMC/EMI, Wireless) to manufacturing (one box testers and modular solutions) to deployment and maintenance (Handheld portfolio).

Agilent has launched its modular product business only recently compared with another company. How do you plan to catch up? What is your unique selling point?
First of all, let me say that bench instruments, also called traditional instruments are ubiquitous in the industry. The integrated human interface and optimized performance is a proven combination. Modular instruments have also been around for a long time since the 1970s, moving from VXI then PXI. We are definitely seeing modular instrument adoption being on the upswing in the system space, growing at a double-digit rate. This growing market is largely due to the customer's desire to bring down the cost per test, rack footprint and improve the speed of test systems through direct register access. But going forward, we foresee customer solutions being delivered by both traditional box instruments and modular products, often working together in concert.

Note that there's a lot of shielding that goes into benchtop instruments. And size is always a challenge when you want high-end, high-accuracy, high-bandwidth... that kind of stuff. It is difficult for a module to have the same performance of a benchtop instrument.

modular instrument demonstration

Modular solutions in PXI and AXIe platforms at the Agilent Measurement Forum in Singapore.

Agilent's foray into the modular space is to give customers an expanded suite of choiceswhether they prefer traditional instruments or modular ones, Agilent can support them. That's why at the Autotestcon trade show last year, Agilent announced 47 modular instruments mainly based on PXI.

The unique differentiator for Agilent is that we are also embracing AXIe, the big brother of PXI which offers a larger board size with a superior cooling system, resulting in less rack space and delivering the density the customer wants. This is because one of the key trends in overall electronics design is high speed digital everywhere: FPGAs, PCI express, even digital RF. Testing these serial busses requires considerable backend digital processing and power. AXIe is the perfect architecture for this. It can be integrated seamlessly with PXI. AXIe is also the perfect modular structure for high speed data converters in the gigabit region. It has the right kind of timing and synchronization structures, including 600Gb/s local bus capability between slots.

Talking about high speed, we are now at microwave frequencies. If you take a look at two digital chips that have now a microwave transmission path with a multi-gigabit data stream between them, this translates into all sorts of signal integrity issues. That's where the industry will need to link simulation to the real work. Agilent is very strong in the RF areawe have our ADS (Advanced Design System) for simulating the RF world and we also have our SystemVue where is being widely accepted as the "architect's workbench", the place where software (C-code), Matlab, HDL and other forms of IP can be brought together with measurements to simulate the overall performance of an RF or digital communication path and compare this to a specification or real-life performance.

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