Test Measurement World Staff- December 1, 2009
NIST automates verification of VNA calibrations
Engineers at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) report they have devised a new method for verifying the calibration of VNAs (vector network analyzers). The engineers have developed an electronic verification standard and accompanying software that automate the verification process and provide results in minutes rather than hours or days.
The new procedure replaces the method in which engineers verified a VNA's calibration by plugging a series of mechanical artifacts with different, known performance characteristics into the instrument, running tests on each artifact, and recording the results. Instead, engineers need only one computer-controlled electronic verification artifact that can switch to numerous predefined impedance and transmission states. NIST's VeridiCal software automates the process and enables users to log results to NIST servers over the Internet.
“Every time a vector network analyzer, a common electrical measurement instrument, took a measurement, it would measure eight different parameters at once and you were never sure if it was measuring them all correctly,” said NIST electronics engineer Dylan Williams in a prepared statement. “It has been a nagging problem for some time with no real way to check it. Now, you can verify the performance of your analyzer and cover the whole space of what the instrument can measure.” www.nist.gov.
Agilent acquires Keithley's RF line
Keithley Instruments has sold the bulk of its wireless test equipment product line to Agilent Technologies. The deal, which involved the transfer of Keithley's RF design center in Santa Rosa, CA, reportedly garnered Keithley $9 million. The facility employed about two dozen people, who were expected to be offered jobs with Agilent. Agilent will provide global sales, service, and support for the existing RF product line.
“Because we have placed a high emphasis on profitability in fiscal 2010 and beyond, we concluded that we could no longer continue to support our significant investment in RF measurement products, and should instead focus on growing our core business,” stated CEO Joseph Keithley. “The impact of the economic downturn changed the expected timing of the returns we were anticipating from our RF product line, extending them beyond a time frame that we were willing to continue to support. We are pleased that Agilent will be assuming this product line. Both Keithley and Agilent will work to provide high-quality service and support through the transition for our customers using these products.”
Keithley added, “We remain committed to supporting our customers in the semiconductor, wireless, precision electronics, and research and education industry segments, serving applications in research, development, and production. The divestiture of our RF product line enables us to increase our focus on our core technologies, and we intend to expand our efforts to leverage these strengths in support of new growth opportunities such as energy efficiency related devices and materials.” www.keithley.com; www.agilent.com.
Chartered enhances yield management
Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing reports that it has begun the next phase of expansion, equipment move-in, and installation for its most advanced manufacturing facility, Fab 7—a 300-mm wafer fab. The equipment will support the planned ramp of capacity for the company's leading-edge process offerings of 65-nm and 45/40-nm technology.
Chartered Semiconductor plans to approach a production level of approximately 50,000 wafers per month by the time the equipment is completely installed and operational. The current expansion phase will add an additional 50,000 ft2 of clean-room space to Fab 7, an increase of 23%.
Fab 7 benefits from comprehensive yield management and defect detection systems. The fab uses intelligent computer-integrated manufacturing systems, advanced process control, fault detection, and classification and recipe management systems. www.charteredsemi.com.
NI targets semiconductor test
National Instruments has introduced 10 products that expand the capabilities of PXI for mixed-signal semiconductor test. The NI PXI Semiconductor Suite includes four HSDIO (high-speed digital I/O) instruments, two digital switches, two RF instruments, an SMU (source-measure unit), and digital-vector file-importing software. It incorporates 200-MHz single-ended digital I/O, 10-pA current resolution, multiband RF measurements, and DC/digital switching. The tools target semiconductor characterization, addressing ADCs, DACs, power-management ICs, wireless ICs, and MEMS devices.
The NI PXIe-654x HSDIO instruments offer single-ended clock rates up to 200 MHz and data rates to 400 Mbps. The NI PXI-4132 SMU delivers current sensitivity down to 10 pA. The NI PXI-2515 and NI PXIe-2515 digital switches help users multiplex DC instrumentation onto HSDIO lines. The NI PXIe-5663E and NI PXIe-5673E 6.6-GHz vector signal analyzer and vector signal generator offer increased measurement speed through deterministic changes in RF configurations. The new suite also permits the importing of WGL and STIL digital-vector formats to streamline design-to-test integration when using NI PXI high-speed digital products.
Base prices: $2499 for a high-speed digital signal insertion switch to $23,999 for a 6.6-GHz RF vector signal generator. National Instruments, www.ni.com.
BERT reaches 25-Gbps data streams
Synthesys Research has expanded the speed and bandwidth of its BERTScope to let you make physical-layer measurements on 25-Gbps lanes for IEEE 802.3ba, 100-Gbps Ethernet. (802.3ba specifies four 25.781-Gbps lanes for 100-Gbps operation.) The BERTScope 25000A ($250,000) and BERTScope Si 25000C ($300,000) let you measure BER (bit-error rate) and perform jitter analysis on 100GBASE-LR4/ER4 transceiver modules, boards, and systems.
The Si model adds stress-receiver testing to the base model. That lets you stress receivers with sinusoidal jitter, random jitter, bounded uncorrelated jitter, and phase modulation.
The BERTScope is capable of testing data streams up to 26.781 Gbps, providing a measurement safety margin. To reach that speed, Synthesys engineers had to design a custom SiGe chip. With that technology, Synthesys has also increased the speed of its BERTScope CR clock-recovery unit to 26 Gbps.
The BERTScope 25000A and Si 25000C include a linear equalization feature that removes distortion from an incoming data stream. With that feature, the instrument's clock-recovery unit can restore the clock embedded in the data.
Synthesys Research, www.bertscope.com.
OFCNFOEC, March 21–25, San Diego, CA. Optical Society of America. www.ofcnfoec.org.
Measurement Science Conference, March 22–26, Pasadena, CA. Measurement Science Conference. www.msc-conf.com.
APEX, April 6–9, Las Vegas, NV. IPC. www.goipcshows.org.
SAE World Congress, April 13–15, Detroit, MI. SAE International. www.sae.org.
To learn about other conferences, courses, and calls for papers, visit www.tmworld.com/events.