Don’t worry; we are not becoming People magazine for engineers (maybe that wouldn't be a bad idea?). But too often, our profession downplays the reality that developing any product, and especially a truly leading-edge one, takes a team of dedicated individuals working across multiple disciples, with management support, time, and money.
One of the consequences of keeping things "quiet" is that the public at large not only does not appreciate the insight, effort, frustration, and dedication—as well as blending of associated technologies—that engineering design and development demand. To the contrary, the public has been conditioned to think it's easy (see "Opinion: For engineers, no good deed goes unpunished").
While we can't do much about that here, we can at least take a few minutes to acknowledge a particular team, and by extension, all engineers who strive to push the performance envelope to extremes.(You can see a list and links to all previous "Extreme Design" entries here.)
In this "Extreme Design" story, we look at some of the key players behind Agilent Technologies' recently introduced Infiniium 90000-X series of 32-GHz analog oscilloscopes. (You can read about the scope itself here and here.)
The Agilent 90000 X-Series oscilloscope development team, joined by R&D Manager Dave Cipriani.
From left to right: Mike McTigue, Jay Alexander, Steve Draving,
Dave Dascher, Dave Cipriani, Brad Doerr, and Chris Rehorn
(Click on image to enlarge)
To quote from Agilent's background material:
"At 32 GHz, the Agilent Infiniium 90000 X-Series oscilloscope hardware delivers faster real-time bandwidth than any other scope by a factor of two. In a world where 25% more performance is very significant, the team behind this scope took on a greater mission: to deliver breakthrough performance with headroom for the future."
"The hardest thing about designing the fastest oscilloscope on the planet might be the challenge of delivering a new ASIC process, new amplifier design and new sampling technology all in one new oscilloscope. These things had to come together simultaneously, and several key Agilent teams had to take-on parallel development and manage the risk along the way."
"These tasks included development of a new ASIC process, IC design for both scope and probes, and packaging and circuit board designs that deliver all of the signal integrity to Agilent’s customer on the screen of the scope. When you have to break new barriers in all three areas at once, some people would think it’s insane to try it, much less commit to it."
"The core scope team had to deliver new ICs to deliver greatly increased bandwidth and industry-best signal integrity. This required a new pre-amp IC, trigger IC, sampler IC, time-base IC and calibrator IC. To get the job done, they needed more horsepower and they enlisted Agilent’s High Frequency Technology Center in delivering the core ASIC technology required to meet the goal."
"Putting it all together meant additional breakthroughs were needed in ASIC packaging and circuit board design that could deliver the full performance to the user. Agilent has long realized that these kinds of missions require a consistent investment strategy, focus, patience and the kind of management that allows many teams to collaborate and bring together an uncompromised breakthrough product."
In this piece, we'll look at some of the team members, their mission, and their background, and also have a personal observation from each.
We'll hear from, and about:
- Sampling IC Design: Chris Rehorn
- Front End Architect, Pre-Amp IC Design: Dave Dascher
- IC Packaging: Don Schott
- Time-base and jitter: Steve Draving
- Probing: Mike McTigue
- IC Processes and Packaging: Dan Thomasson
- Program Manager: Brad Doerr
- Vice-President and General Manager: Jay Alexander
This special article is presented in two parts, as pdf files (no registration required), as follows:
We hope you enjoy this story; it's time that engineers and teams got some of the recognition they deserve. ♦