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High-volume manufacturing requirements are driving the latest generation of  vector network analyzers (VNAs).  Mobile devices, network equipment, and data centers are being designed for commercial trends such as higher-speed mobile data. These devices need to be produced in very high volumes at low costs. Therefore, production throughput is an extremely important parameter for these applications. Recognizing today’s production requirements, VNA suppliers are making an effort to deliver  RF/microwave VNAs capable of increased throughput in high-volume manufacturing environments.

Fig. 1

Anritsu’s new Performance ShockLine MS46500B Series of VNAs lowers the cost of test and speeds time to market in numerous testing applications to 8.5 GHz. These applications include mobile network equipment design and manufacturing, mobile devices, automotive cables, high-speed data interconnects, and system integration components.

The MS46500B Series is made up of the two-port MS46522B and the four-port MS46524B models, expanding the ShockLine family to a broader range of test applications (Fig. 1). This series utilizes a modern architecture: the MS46522B has two independent sources and four receivers, while the MS46524B has four independent sources and eight receivers. All sources can sweep at the same time, allowing  the measurement of forward and reverse S-parameters in a single sweep.

Due to this unique simultaneous sweeping feature, the MS46522B is capable of making a full two-port measurement in half the time it would take to make the same measurement with a traditional single-source sweep, while the MS46524B can make a full four-port measurement in one-quarter the time of a conventional VNA. With shorter test times, the MS46500B Series significantly improves throughput in manufacturing environments.

Improvements in Dynamic Range and Measurement Speed

Filters used in base transceiver stations (BTSs) in today’s high-speed mobile networks have extremely steep skirts, rejecting out-of-band signals by as much as 110 dB. To accurately measure these components, a VNA with a wide dynamic range is needed. When using previous-generation VNAs, test times can be quite long when measuring devices with a wide dynamic range.Recognizing the need for VNAs to provide wide dynamic range at faster measurement speeds, suppliers have released VNAs with improved performance intended for these applications.

Keysight’s new E5080A VNA provides improved performance compared to previous-generation models (Fig. 2). In comparison with the previous-generation E5071C VNA, the E5080A has 10 dB more dynamic range, with  increased measurement accuracy. In addition, the likelihood of errors during manual filter tuning is reduced by the improved VNA performance. When comparing measurement speeds at the same dynamic range, the E5080A is about 10 times faster than the E5071C, enabling greater throughput to be achieved during production testing. The E5080A is available with frequency ranges of 9 kHz to 4.5 GHz, 9 kHz to 6.5 GHz, and 9 kHz to 9 GHz.

Fig. 2

Copper Mountain Technologies recently released its Cobalt Series of VNAs, featuring models C1209 and C1220 (Fig. 3). The C1209 model is capable of analyzing a frequency range from 100 kHz to 9 GHz, while the C1220 model has a frequency range from 100 kHz to 20 GHz. This new series achieves fast measurement speeds by incorporating a hybrid dual-core DSP/FPGA signal processing engine along with new frequency synthesizer technologies.

Dynamic range of more than 145 dB at a 1-Hz intermediate-frequency-bandwidth (IFBW) is achieved, allowing the Cobalt VNAs to maintain a wide measurement range at fast measurement speeds. This combination of wide dynamic range and fast measurement speed makes the Cobalt Series VNAs ideal for testing and tuning high-performance filters. When using 801 measurement points along with a 30-kHz IFBW, a complete S-parameter measurement of a BTS filter requires  only 0.08 seconds, while maintaining more than 100 dB of measurement dynamic range.

In an effort to achieve high throughput at an attractive price, Rohde & Schwarz recently introduced a new VNA to its product line. The ZND model, which is a two-port VNA, enables users to easily measure S-parameters of components such as filters, connectors, and antennas. This VNA is intended for production environments, providing the required functionality at a low cost. The ZND offers a specified dynamic range to 120 dB, making it ideal to measure high-performance passive components.

The ZND base model provides unidirectional measurements, with the option to upgrade to bidirectional measurement capability. The base model operates from 100 kHz to 4.5 GHz. The option to extend the frequency range to 8.5 GHz is also available.

The previously mentioned MS46500B Series from Anritsu also offers excellent dynamic range, low trace noise, and a fast sweep speed. This series addresses the S-parameter requirements of a complete range of passive components, including BTS filters, duplexers, and antennas.

Four-Port VNA

Anritsu also recently introduced its module-based VectorStar ME7838A4 four-port broadband VNA, which features differential broadband sweep from 70 kHz to 110/125 GHz. This VNA is capable of performing extremely stable and fast measurements when characterizing differential devices, providing new performance levels to on-wafer and signal-integrity engineers when conducting differential measurements.

Utilizing an exclusive Anritsu design that incorporates nonlinear-transmission-line technology (NLTL), the compact modules lend themselves to easy mounting on wafer probe station platens where space is limited. Modules are available that can extend the ME7838A4 to a four-port 145 GHz system.

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