Agilent Technologies' touts new Gain Compression Application

DECEMBER 11, 2007 -- Agilent says the Gain Compression Application's ability to provide fast, accurate compression data at multiple frequencies and with a simple setup makes the new measurement capability ideal for engineers and technicians characterizing, measuring, and testing amplifiers during R&D and manufacturing.

DECEMBER 11, 2007 -- Agilent Technologies Inc. (search for Agilent) has announced the availability of a new Gain Compression Application (GCA) for its PNA-X network analyzer. Its ability to provide fast, accurate compression data at multiple frequencies and with a simple setup makes this new measurement capability ideal for engineers and technicians characterizing, measuring, and testing amplifiers during R&D and manufacturing, say Agilent representatives.

Agilent's GCA measurement capability is an option for the PNA-X network analyzer for single-connection active-device measurements from 10 MHz to 26.5 GHz. Providing automated and simple gain compression over a wide power-sweep range, it enables engineers to measure many frequencies easily and with extreme speed and accuracy, says the company. Faster data acquisition is possible with fewer sweeps, using just one channel. Additionally, a guided calibration with compression, power, and mismatch correction ensures highly accurate results, creates tighter guard bands, and enables more accurate system simulations, claim Agilent representatives.

Engineers today use various methods to characterize the compression of amplifiers, including the use of a traditional network analyzer with power sweep at a single CW frequency. Unfortunately, this method has inaccuracies such as mismatch errors and, when used to characterize a wide frequency range with many frequency points, can be slow and inconvenient, says Agilent. These slow test times, coupled with the time it takes to set up the measurement process, translate into higher test costs. Agilent says its new GCA measurement option for the PNA-X, by contrast, eliminates the problems associated with lengthy test times and inconvenient setups by providing a single connection with a unique SMART Sweep capability that is easy-to-use, fast, and accurate.

SMART Sweep uses an optimized algorithm to find the desired compression points. Using fewer data points--selected based on a proprietary algorithm--it yields a very accurate characterization of the DUT over the desired range, claims the company. Because this approach is much faster than measuring all the finely spaced points on the power curve that are normally needed for the same level of accuracy, SMART Sweep can significantly reduce the overall test time and improve manufacturing throughput, says Agilent.

The GCA also offers a 2-D sweep capability in which engineers can specify the frequency range, power range, and number of frequency and power points. The GCA gathers the data for the entire range and finds the specified compression point. The 2-D data array can then be saved to an external file. This capability and the choice of sweep frequency per power or sweep power per frequency enable complete device characterization, notes the company.

According to Agilent, the GCA can provide the user with standard S-parameters at the linear power level and the compression parameters at the compression level. Available compression parameters are input and output power at compression, and gain and phase at compression. Additionally, Agilent says the GCA's compression algorithm is very flexible. It offers engineers the choice of many compression methods, including X/Y compression, compression from back off, compression from linear gain, and compression from maximum gain.

Agilent's Gain Compression Application, Option 086, for PNA-X network analyzer is available now and is priced at $6,800. The PNA-X network analyzer is priced at $92,000.


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