Arbitrary waveform generators (AWGs) offer almost unlimited flexibility in creating the most complex waveforms. Traditionally, such instruments have been limited in bandwidth and resolution, since they require the use of high-speed digital-to-analog converters (DACs). But the model N6030A AWG from Agilent Technologies (Palo Alto, CA) takes advantage of advances in DAC technology to offer 15 b vertical resolution with 1.25 GSamples/s sampling bandwidth. Housed in a four-slot 3U CompactPCI format, the AWG module achieves a spurious-free dynamic range of better than −65 dBc with 500 MHz of instantaneous analog bandwidth.

The N6030A (see figure) can be used as a stand-alone AWG or as a scalable system component for generating complex phase-coherent, multi-emitter scenarios. The digital source offers dual differential output channels to drive both single-ended and balanced designs. The instrument can be supplied with 8 MSamples standard memory for storage of arbitrary or complex waveforms, or 16 MSamples memory as an option. An advanced sequencing engine allows multiple waveforms to be combined into a complex signal streams with changing waveform characteristics. This sequencing engine also extends the effective size of the on-board memory. The N6030A can be used as an instantaneous-frequency (IF) in-phase/quadrature (I/Q) signal source for the company's PSG line of vector signal generators to achieve a 1-GHz I/Q bandwidth for wideband modulation at microwave frequencies.

A single N6030A module can drive eight total modules to create synchronous operation on a sample-by-sample basis. The module supports in-phase/quadrature (IQ) bandwidths to 1 GHz. The module is supplied with a complete software suite that aids developers in waveform file creation, transfer, and control of all module settings. It supports a variety of programming interfaces, including MATLAB®, LabView, IVI-C, and the Microsoft®.NET framework.

The N6030A can be used, for example, in conjunction with a digital storage oscilloscope (DSO). Waveforms sampled and captured with the oscilloscope can be downloaded to the memory of the N6030A and replicated with 15-b precision for use as test signals. P&A: $50,000 and up (N6030A) and $10,000 (memory option); 60 days. Agilent Technologies, Inc., Test and Measurement Organization, 5301 Stevens Creek Blvd., MS 54LAK, Santa Clara, CA 95052; (800) 829-4444 (item 7939), Internet: www.agilent.com/find/awg.