Last week I sat down with a team from National Instruments, which included Matthew Friedman, senior product manager automated test, and Rich McDonell, senior group manager, product marketing. They had some great news to share about a new vector signal analyzer (VSA) in a PXI form factor that also offers industry-leading performance for automated test. Long advocates of the PXI form factor, National Instruments kind of struck out on its own to fully explore this type of flexible automated test instrument form factor. In the early 2000s, they came out with some of their first RF PXI products, and in the last few years have really ramped up their in-house RF expertise.
The result? Well, today they are giving us the Ni PXIe-5665, a 3.6GHz RF VSA that offers industry-leading phase noise, average noise level, amplitude accuracy, and dynamic range. They tell me that engineers can now take advantage of measurement speeds that are at least five times faster than those acquired with traditional rack-and-stack instruments. Of course, the 'coolness' factor here is that engineers can configure their own test instrument with different PXI blocks, using multiple VSAs, for instance, to expand the number of channels under test (or any of the other 1500+ software-defined PXI modular instruments available). But don't take my word for it, check out this demo video:
So, what's in it? The new VSA combines NI's PXIe-5603 downconverter, the NI PXIe-5653 local oscillator synthesizer, and the NI PXIe-5622, a 150 MS/s intermediate frequency (IF) digitizer. These functions combine to support wideband vector signal measurments across 20Hz to 3.6GHz with analysis bandwidths up to 50MHz.
Here are some of the key features:
phase noise of -129 dBc/Hz at a 10 kHz offset at 800 MHz
average noise level of -165 dBm/Hz
a third-order intercept point of +24 dBm
absolute amplitude accuracy of ±0.10 dB
According to NI, these specifications give the NI PXIe-5665 the best performance in its class. And, they tell me that it is 40% less expensive then going with a rack-and-stack-system. The new PXIe-5665 VSA looks like it will be a good match across a number of different markets, including military/aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics (including handsets).
RF software toolkits for LabVIEW, NI LabWindows™/CVI and .NET are availalbe to test the latest RF and wireless communication standards including GSM/EDGE, WCDMA, LTE, WLAN and WiMAX.