Meet present and future test requirements with versatile signal-scenario generation

March 09, 2012 // By Beate Hoehne, Agilent Technologies
During the development of next-generation radar, satellite and electronic warfare (EW) systems, the use of advanced signal simulation can add greater versatility to a test system.

For example, easily reconfigurable instrumentation is capable of testing multiple types of present and future designs, leading to shorter development time, faster time-to-delivery and a reduced cost of test.

Enhancing system flexibility

A key element of a flexible test system is an arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) or signal-scenario generator (SSG). The best of these offer wide bandwidth and high resolution simultaneously, a combination that enables the creation of realistic signals. With sufficient built-in memory and advanced sequencing capabilities, an SSG becomes the foundation for highly realistic lab-based testing, which can help minimize the need for costly flight or field testing.

An SSG with the right combination of bandwidth, resolution, memory and sequencing will help development teams address present- and next-generation designs. Thinking longer term, the SSG architecture should be capable of supporting future hardware enhancements such as faster sampling rates and wider modulation bandwidths.

Improving equipment ROI

A commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) SSG that offers all of these capabilities will help an organization maximize the return on its equipment investment. Beyond raw flexibility, an SSG available in a modular form factor such as AXIe enables the creation of systems that are smaller in size, weight and physical footprint.

The building-block nature of the modular approach enhances system uptime and longevity. For example, uptime increases because it’s easy to swap out a faulty module for an identical substitute. Longevity is supported by the possibility of replacing an outdated module with an updated or upgraded unit, often with few or no software changes.

Exploring an optimized solution

An example is the Agilent M8190A SSG, which can provide 14-bit resolution at 8 GSa/s and 12-bit resolution at 12 GSa/s. This level of performance enables system developers to fully characterize their designs by pushing them to the limits of the performance envelope.

Beyond bandwidth and resolution, the M8190A provides ample amounts of waveform memory along with advanced sequencing capabilities that ensure efficient use of the

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