AWGs tackle cost effective multi-channel signal generation with up to 24 channels

June 12, 2017 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Advanced electronic systems are increasingly turning to parallel design architecture to increase their overall performance in applications such as MIMO, radar, quantum computing and multi-lane serial bus testing. To develop these systems, and those with similar multi-receiver/emitter or multi-sensor technology, it is helpful to have the ability to generate multiple synchronized waveforms.

Fast Arbitrary Waveform Generators (AWGs) have become the instruments of choice as they allow easy and flexible signal generation. However, most high-performance AWGs only provide a limited channel count (1 to 4), which can make creating larger test systems quite expensive. In addition, these AWGs face serious problems when systems are scaled up for higher channel count applications as they typically present numerous synchronization issues.

Spectrum’s DN6.66xx series of AWGs overcomes these challenges by offering up to 24 fully synchronized channels. The series allows engineers to select from an extensive range of products that are cost effective and specifically designed for multi-channel, signal generation applications.  

The DN6.66xx series adds eight new instruments to the company’s generatorNETBOX line of AWGs. LXI compliant, they are easily integrated into any test system by a simple Ethernet connection to a PC or local area network (LAN). Using state-of-the-art 16 bit digital to analog technology (DAC), the AWGs offer from 6 to 24 fully synchronous channels, output rates up to 1.25 GS/s, analog bandwidth as high as 400 MHz, large on-board memories (up to 1 GSample per channel) and generous output voltage ranges of up to ±5 V into high impedance and up to ±2.5 V into 50Ω.

Importantly for most applications, all the output channels are clocked and triggered synchronously so they maintain a constant, inter-channel clock phase relationship. The clocking system uses a precision phase locked loop (PLL) control process that can be generated internally or, alternatively, from an external clock or reference. Time skew between the channels is also minimized with the maximum skew, between all channels, being less than 130 picoseconds.