Tektronix optical modulation analyzer supports superchannel testing

Test and measurement instrument developer Tektronix, Inc. has unveiled a software package for its OM4000 optical modulation analyzer series designed to support testing of superchannels. The software option, slated to be available by the end of May, will enable technicians to support an unlimited number of subcarriers, each with different optical modulation formats if they desire, according to Textronix sources.

Test and measurement instrument developer Tektronix, Inc. has unveiled a software package for its OM4000 optical modulation analyzer series designed to support testing of superchannels. The software option, slated to be available by the end of May, will enable technicians to support an unlimited number of subcarriers, each with different optical modulation formats if they desire, according to Textronix sources.

Superchannels have become a subject of study as a means to support data rates of 400 Gbps and above (see “Superchannels to the rescue!”). A superchannel contains a variety of subcarriers, each running at a subset of the 400-Gbps total. There are no standards, either official or de facto, for superchannel construction, meaning that development engineers can experiment with the number of subcarriers and modulation formats.

This blank slate creates a requirement for an extremely flexible test instrument for superchannel applications, according to Rob Marsland, the product line manager for the Tektronix’s coherent instruments (and former chief at Optametra, which Tektronix acquired in July 2011). The Option MCS software package has been designed with this flexibility in mind. The software option, which works with the Tektronix OM4106D Coherent Lightwave Signal Analyzer (for pairing with Tektronix DPO70000D Series 33-GHz real-time oscilloscope) and OM1106 Coherent Lightwave Signal Analyzer (which works with the Tektronix DSA8300 Series 70-GHz sampling oscilloscope), enables technicians to select the number of subcarriers, the subcarrier spacing, and the modulation format for each of these subcarriers. Users can specify each carrier center frequency as either absolute values (THz) or relative values (GHz).

The software package then enables the optical modulation analyzer to perform the specified measurements automatically on each subcarrier and display the results. The new offering significantly speeds the process of superchannel performance measurement and makes it easy to visually compare the performance of individual subcarriers, Marsland asserts.

An analyzer with Option MCS can display test results for up to 100 subcarriers simultaneously. However, Marsland says that for practical purposes (including test instrument performance), 10 subcarriers at once would be a good starting point.

Textronix will sell the Option MCS for $8800 U.S. MSRP.

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