This week, Tektronix announced it is entering the power analyzer market with its PA4000 precision multi-phase power analyzer. A few weeks ago, I met with Ken Price, product planner for Tektronix, to talk about this new product and new market.
Tek got a head start in this new market by implementing a technology transfer agreement with Voltech which included power analyzer intellectual property (IP), patents and product designs. The companies are working together now, and Voltech will exit the power analyzer market by the end of September 2013.
Price explains that by entering this market, Tektronix is positioned to offer end-to-end power testing solutions. The company already offers Tektronix oscilloscopes and probes, and the new power analyzers, combined with Keithley parametric curve tracers and SourceMeter units, make perfect sense.
Power analyzers are used to make high-accuracy measurements on a system/sub-system’s input and output. Example tests include: voltage and current input/output, line harmonics, flicker, Watts, VAR, power factor, conversion efficiency and power angle. Today’s designers also need to test power to regulatory standards, including efficiency (ENERGYSTAR), standby current (IEC62301) and harmonics (IEC61000). Tests for these three standards are built in to the new Tektronix PA4000 analyzer.
“The need for power analysis is growing,” says Price. “Applications such as green-energy generation, energy savings and having inverters connected to the grid require stronger adherence to specifications.”
The PA4000 features a unique two-shunt design. Many power analyzers have a single shunt, but the PA4000 offers two on each channel, one for measurements up to 1A and one for measurements up to 30A. The unit then applies high-speed digital processing in order to track power cycles even in the presence of transients and noise. More information on the product is available in the product review.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.