New in 100G lab test: An OFC/NFOEC 2012 Reporter's Notebook

With all the new technology developments on display at OFC/NFOEC 2012 in Los Angeles, it’s no surprise that test equipment companies also touted the results of their efforts to keep pace. And equally unsurprising given the ubiquity of new products related to 100-Gbps, much of the action in the booths of the test instrument vendors revolved around this topic as well.

With all the new technology developments on display at OFC/NFOEC 2012 in Los Angeles, it’s no surprise that test equipment companies also touted the results of their efforts to keep pace. And equally unsurprising given the ubiquity of new products related to 100-Gbps, much of the action in the booths of the test instrument vendors revolved around this topic as well.

For example, Agilent Technologies showed off its newly announced N4392A optical modulation analyzer. This instrument represents a significant advance because it combines the optical modulation analyzer with a companion real-time oscilloscope in a single, portable platform. The product offers a direct path toward getting optical modulation analysis on more lab benches – as well as production floors and, who knows, maybe even the field.

While Southern Photonics’ IQScope optical modulation analyzer still needs a separate oscilloscope, it pairs with the equivalent-time variety – which also may make such measurement capabilities more accessible to a wider range of engineers and applications. The concept is potentially attractive enough that Tektronix – which bought Optametra and now offers that company’s optical modulation analyzer in combination with its own real-time scopes – demonstrated a version of the Optametra product that would work with Tektronix’s equivalent-time scopes. This was something of a test case rather than the definite signal of a new product direction, a Tektronix staffer told me.

Meanwhile Southern Photonics scored when it announced a partnership with LeCroy. LeCroy had been left on the outside of the optical modulation analysis space looking in at Agilent, EXFO, and Tektronix when Optametra was taken off the market. Since LeCroy specializes in high-bandwidth real-time oscilloscopes – it showed off the latest version of its LabMaster 10 Zi Modular Oscilloscope System, which can deliver 60 GHz of bandwidth through its Digital Bandwidth Interleave technology – it would not be surprising if a new version of the IQScope optimized to work with real-time scopes was unveiled in the future.

To complement the IQScope, Southern Photonics also announced a 34-GS/s arbitrary waveform generator. The AWG-34G uses Micram’s VEGA DACII ultrafast signal converter to deliver what Southern Photonics asserts is the fastest AWG performance available.

Meanwhile, Tektronix offered new modules for its DSA8300 Digital Signal Analyzer sampling oscilloscope that support optical compliance testing of Ethernet at speeds up to 100 Gbps. That would be the 4x25G version of 100 Gbps, which also got its share of attention at the show.

For example, Discovery Semiconductors displayed its recently announced 25-Gbaud Lab Buddy optical receiver with integrated CDR functionality. The platform uses the GN2426 CDR device from Gennum Corp. (a company that Semtech recently purchased) to enable the O/E and CDR functions to be combined in the same box; thus, the receiver’s linear output and the CDR data can be delivered directly to an oscilloscope or bit-error-rate analyzer from the same source.




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