Company: Keysight Technologies
Category: Test, Measurement & Inspection Product of the Year
The emergence of numerous millimeter-wave (mmWave) use cases is rapidly dominating the technology news, thanks to extremely high-frequency bands of electromagnetic spectrum. The world is excited about next-generation 5G, satellite, and automotive radar communications that enable higher data throughput, lower latency, and super-fine range resolution using ultra-wide bandwidth. mmWave technology is a key enabler and provides ample margin for performance improvement, but it also creates challenges such as path loss, tight design margins, complex modulation, and stringent standards, that impact the performance of the device under test (DUT).
Increased bandwidth and higher-order modulation schemes enable faster data rates. However, signals at mmWave frequencies are more susceptible to impairments resulting in significant path loss between test and measurement instruments and the DUT. The lower signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) makes signal analysis measurements, such as error vector magnitude (EVM), adjacent channel power, and spurious emissions, very challenging and limits engineers from truly understanding the performance of their DUT. Therefore, engineers need a test solution with the widest analysis bandwidth and highest frequency range to help them solve their most difficult mmWave test challenges in applications like 5G and satellite communications.
A test system’s key objective is to characterize a DUT, in which the system must isolate the DUT’s measured results from all other measurement setup effects. When building a mmWave test system, components between a signal analyzer and a DUT – such as mixers, filters, cables, and amplifiers – increase insertion loss. This gets worse when testing signals with wider bandwidths and higher frequencies.
In the past, the solution required adding an external mixer to extend the frequency range of a signal analyzer. This essentially moved the measurement plane close to the DUT to shorten the mmWave signal routing – reducing the path loss and improving SNR. However, there is no preselector at the front end of the mixer. Therefore, strong out-of-band signals may lead to unwanted images in the band of interest and degrade measurement accuracy. External mixers also increase setup complexity and measurement uncertainty. Keysight overcomes these issues by integrating a preselector and an RF switch into a high-dynamic-range frequency extender with seamless operation interface to the signal analyzer. This enables a wide, unbanded, and preselected swept power spectrum without managing band breaks and images.
Keysight’s newest signal analyzer, the N9042B UXA, and frequency extender deliver up to 11 GHz of analysis bandwidth with the industry’s widest dynamic range and best residual EVM. Its ready-to-use measurement applications and vector signal analysis software help engineers to ensure their designs meet the latest standards. These, together with Keysight’s dual-channel vector signal generator, form a powerful mmWave test solution.
PathWave software is the heart of this new signal analyzer. PathWave X-Series measurement applications address ever-changing measurement requirements for the latest standards with ready-to-use measurements for a variety of mmWave applications, such as cellular communication, wireless connectivity, aerospace/defense, and more.
The 89600 PathWave VSA software is a comprehensive set of tools for demodulation and vector signal analysis. With support for more than 75 signal standards and modulation types, these tools enable engineers to explore virtually every facet of a signal and optimize their most advanced designs, while spending less time on measurement setup and delivering repeatable results.
The N9042B analyzer delivers outstanding noise performance by leveraging a highly customized signal path front end. It provides the best swept displayed average noise level (DANL) in the industry, down to -174 dBm at 1 GHz, and superior dynamic range for the most precise measurements of small signals near noise in the presence of large signals. For a wide frequency range up to 110 GHz, the N9042B analyzer improves the EVM performance by 50% over a wide power range, compared to other signal analysis solutions in the market. This is extremely important to ensure the highest accuracy of test measurements for mmWave applications.
For example, in mmWave communications, engineers face complex testing and characterization challenges at higher frequencies and wider bandwidths, to ensure both components and systems meet all testing and design requirements. In satellite communications, RF engineers need to ensure outstanding system performance through all stages of the satellite life cycle. Once a satellite is deployed, it cannot be called back for repair. Similarly, testing 5G components and devices per the 3GPP 5G NR standard Release 15 and 16 requires a test solution with higher accuracy, sensitivity, and analysis bandwidth capability.
Keysight’s new mmWave test solution supports 4 GHz of corrected RF bandwidth for signal generation and analysis, as well as high-frequency coverage and the speed needed for wideband, high-throughput mmWave communications. It is also easy and straightforward to setup.
The N9042B’s new paradigm in signal analyzer calibration, the U9361 RCal receiver calibrator, provides 10X improved receiver test system accuracy by removing magnitude and phase errors in measurement setups up to 110 GHz. U9361 RCal receiver calibrator seamlessly moves the reference plane to the output of the DUT, with easy-to-use, simple, command structure and automation. This unique palm-sized, USB-powered and controlled calibrator drastically reduces effort, cost, and complexity, and eliminates the need for multiple pieces of equipment to calibrate signal analyzer measurement systems.
In summary, Keysight’s new N9042B UXA X-Series signal analyzer, with swept frequency from 2 Hz to 110 GHz, delivers up to 11 GHz of analysis bandwidth with the industry’s widest dynamic range and best residual EVM. The PathWave X-Series measurement applications and vector signal analysis software assure engineers that their designs meet the latest standards. These, together with the dual-channel vector signal generator, form a powerful mmWave test solution for the most advanced mmWave innovations.