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.
Up to 24 fully synchronous channels
The DN6.66xx series adds eight new instruments (Table 1) 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.
Advanced waveform replay modes
To allow the generation of long and complex waveforms, the AWGs combine their very large on-board memories with a number of operating modes such as Single-Shot, Loop, FIFO, Gating and Sequence Replay. Sequence Mode cuts the memory into segments of different length and combines them with a sequence of commands including loops for more efficient memory use.
For further system flexibility, front-panel multi-purpose I/O connectors provide access to multiple marker outputs, asynchronous digital inputs, asynchronous digital outputs, the trigger output, the run and arm status and the PLL reference clock.
The instruments are fully self-contained and come with all the tools necessary to generate an almost unlimited variety of waveforms. Simply connect the unit to a host computer (e.g. laptop or workstation) or anywhere on the corporate network and start up Spectrum’s SBench6-Pro software. SBench6-Pro comes as standard with every unit. It lets the user control all of the AWG’s operating modes and hardware settings from one simple, easy-to-use, graphical user interface. The software also has a host of built-in features for waveform creation, data analysis and documentation. These include an EasyGenerator function (for producing standard wave shapes such as sine, rectangular, triangle, saw-tooth, SINC and DC), equation based waveform creation (for complex modulated waveforms) and full import/export capability for data transfer between other devices (such as digitizers and oscilloscopes) or software programs like MATLAB or LabVIEW. SBench6 also supports most popular data formats including ASCII, binary and WAV.
Extensive software support
So that the generatorNETBOX units can be quickly integrated into a new test system, a comprehensive Software Development Kit (SDK) is provided with drivers and support examples. The SDK allows programming with almost any popular language including C++, Visual Basic, VB.NET, C#, J#, Delphi, Java and Python. Third party software support and examples are also available, free of charge, for LabVIEW, LabWindows and MATLAB.
For applications where a generatorNETBOX needs to operate remotely, Spectrum offers an embedded server option, DN6.xxx-Emb. This option combines a powerful CPU, a freely accessible SSD, more memory and a remote software development access method. The embedded server option creates an open platform where users can run their own software while, at the time, still being connected via LAN for remote access. The option effectively allows the generatorNETBOX to operate independently or, when connected to a LAN, as part of a larger test system.
The DN6.66x series generatorNETBOX products are available with immediate delivery. All units are shipped factory tested and include Spectrum’s SBench 6 Professional version software, support drivers for most popular programming languages and a two-year manufacturer’s warranty. Technical support, including software and firmware updates, is available free of charge.