NI Unveils New RF Vector Signal Analyzer and Two IF Digitizers

National Instruments today announced three new products that extend high-speed data acquisition and data streaming into RF and communications applications. With the new RF vector signal analyzer and two new IF digitizers that include advanced FPGA-based signal processing, engineers can continuously stream high-bandwidth RF data across high-speed buses, such as PCI and PXI, directly to a PC for processing and analysis. With PC processing and open software tools, engineers can create systems with unprecedented flexibility to address emerging standards or to prototype next-generation RF systems. RF streaming is ideal for a variety of applications such as software-defined radio, record and playback of spectral communication signals and real-time spectral monitoring.

The National Instruments PXI-5661 2.7 GHz RF vector signal analyzer features 20 MHz of real-time signal or modulation bandwidth, frequency-selective burst triggering and onboard signal processing for streaming data to a PC at full bandwidth. The new analyzer implements an onboard quadrature digital downconverter in an FPGA to significantly reduce the amount of data to transfer to the host PC so that high-bandwidth RF signals can directly transfer across the high-speed PXI backplane. After the data is on the host PC, engineers can manipulate it in open software tools to make custom measurements, or even to emulate emerging communications standards as a software-defined radio. The new module also includes a built-in burst trigger that engineers can use to trigger RF acquisitions based on a user-programmable power level and bandwidth.

NI 5142 communications digitizers are the IF components of the NI PXI-5661 analyzers and are available separately in PXI or PCI for addressing a broad set of IF applications. NI 5142 digitizers feature dual 14-bit, 100 MS/s simultaneous-sampling channels with onboard signal processing. Onboard processing features include a 40 MHz programmable digital downconverter and general-purpose alias-protected decimation, which tracks with the sample rate to protect sample data from higher-frequency aliases. Engineers can combine the digital downconverter with third-party RF-to-IF downconverters for RF streaming applications.

“These new RF and IF products represent a shift in the way communications systems are designed and tested,” said Tim Dehne, NI senior vice president of engineering. “By streaming RF or IF data across high-speed buses directly to a PC for processing, the challenge of developing a communications system now falls on software. Users can define their communications systems with open software, such as National Instruments LabVIEW.”

Using tools such as NI LabVIEW graphical development software, engineers can use the new RF and IF hardware to perform user-defined measurement and analysis. LabVIEW tools, such as the Modulation and Spectral Measurements toolkits as well as the new MathScript node, offer a powerful platform for building next generation test systems or building a complete software-defined radio for designing emerging standards. Engineers also can program the new hardware in many other programming environments such as National Instruments LabWindows/CVI for ANSI C development and Microsoft Visual Studio. The new modules complement a variety of NI modular instruments including arbitrary waveform generators and digital waveform generator/analyzers to build a complete custom mixed-signal application.

About NI Modular Instruments
NI offers essential technologies for test, which combine high-performance hardware, flexible software and innovative timing and synchronization technology for test and design applications. NI modular instruments offer accurate, high-throughput measurements from DC to 2.7 GHz. The product family includes:

  • Digitizers/PC-based oscilloscopes (up to 24 bits, up to 2 GS/s, up to eight channels)
  • Signal generators (up to 16 bits, 200 MS/s)
  • Digital waveform generator/analyzers (up to 400 Mb/s)
  • RF signal generators and analyzers (up to 6.6 GHz)
  • Digital multimeters (up to 7½ digits, LCR)
  • Programmable power supplies (up to 20 W, 16 bits)
  • Dynamic signal analyzers (up to 24 bits, 500 kS/s)
  • Switching (multiplexers, matrices, general-purpose and RF)

About National Instruments
For 30 years, National Instruments has been a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation – a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists in industry, government and academia approach measurement and automation. Leveraging PCs and commercial technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs for test, control and design applications through easy-to-integrate software, such as NI LabVIEW, and modular measurement and control hardware for PXI, PCI, PCI Express, USB and Ethernet. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 4,000 employees and direct operations in nearly 40 countries. For the past seven years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.