RF Measurement Trends: Part Two

RF Measurement Trends: Part Two

Published: 17th March 2015

To continue we’ll look at two more trends

  • Technology integration
  • Always-on

Technology Integration

With technology integration there is a demand for more ‘one-box’ type solutions or instruments with a variety of measurement personalities because of the continued integration of RF, microwave, and high-speed digital technologies inside devices. Measurement personalities offer a way toward the ability to rapidly transform ideas into validated products.

Equipment needs to multi task across signal generation, waveform characterisation, signal analysis, logic and protocol analysis and skip from domain to domain (digital, analogue, rf) if they are to address numerous communications formats and technologies.

These ‘One-box’ solutions give the user an easy transition from one measurement type to another with seamlessly continued measurement integrity. They offer a variety of measurements within one instrument with seamless functionality as described above but also the best offer a user interface that is intuitive (and even educational) leading the operator to greater proficiency and productivity.

Just look at the growth in Mixed Signal Oscilloscope and now, Mixed Domain Oscilloscope availability. Mixed Signal Oscilloscopes basically blend scope and logic analyser technology offering both functionalities in one instrument with the aim of a mixed signal oscilloscope being to provide the functionality of a digital oscilloscope along with that of a basic logic analyser.

Mixed Domain Oscilloscopes however offer the functionality of analogue and RF measurements within one unit and may as well encompass logic analyser functionality as well giving you an instrument that incorporates both time domain and frequency domain measurement hardware. In other words, an oscilloscope with integrated Spectrum Analyser features.

Always-on

Here we have the two almost contradictory demands of always-on yet less power consumption. Designers contend with the demands for always-on and therefore how to create longer battery life and lower power consumption when more and more functionality is being used and more and more data is being transferred and interpreted.

To satisfy end-user demand for always-on access, mobile devices need powerful processing, dependable connectivity, and long battery life. This requires faster chipsets, buses and memory; multiple radios running myriad standards; new antenna techniques; and low-power operation.

However, today a battery holds relatively little power and is bulky and heavy in relation to many devices. It also tends to have a relatively short life span. Battery power is also very expensive. The smaller the battery, the higher the cost-per-watt becomes. Yet technologies demand we improve upon these deficiencies and to make progress in achieving these aims developers require measurements of higher precision.

That means, it is prudent to always check on what the current latest technology capability is before you make your purchase.

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