Agilent Technologies introduces physical layer test system option with industry-first calibration wizards

February 9, 2009

3 Min Read

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today introduced a breakthrough advanced calibration option together with the release of its Physical Layer Test System (PLTS) version 5.0 software. This new option integrates a suite of industry-first wizards for automatic fixture removal, Thru-Reflect-Line calibration and differential crosstalk calibration. The Thru-Reflect-Line calibration cuts design time in half. The automatic fixture removal wizard saves weeks of nonrecurring engineering time and up to $10,000 of printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication costs. This "first of its kind" functionality is well suited for high-speed digital designers or signal integrity laboratories performing interconnect design, test and verification of high-speed connectors, cables, backplanes and PCBs.

The advanced calibration option, in conjunction with the PLTS version 5.0 software, can be used with Agilent's Vector Network Analyzers (VNA) to simplify signal integrity test. By extending the usability of the VNA, the option sets the standard for VNA-based signal integrity analysis by enabling a common platform for optimizing interconnect design, characterization and validation. The option's industry-first calibration wizards include:

  • Thru-Reflect-Line (TRL) Calibration Wizard - As the world's first software tool for the design and validation of a PCB-based TRL calibration kit, this wizard is designed to simplify the tedious, error-prone process of TRL fixture design. By reducing the number of board spins required, it effectively reduces design cycle time, from beginning to end, by at least 50 percent. Moreover, by comparing the TRL connector launch quality and line impedance variation for each TRL structure, the wizard is able to quickly verify the overall quality of the TRL calibration kit, including the critical high frequency performance.

  • Differential Crosstalk Calibration Wizard - Until now, differential coupling error has been an elusive phenomenon and one not easily corrected for in PCB-based TRL calibration kits. The differential crosstalk calibration wizard enables extremely accurate error correction by taking into account the coupling of differential transmission lines on the test fixture. The result is an improvement of 25 dB at a given frequency compared with other standard TRL methodologies.

  • Automatic Fixture Removal Wizard - This wizard enables quick and easy differentially coupled fixture de-embedding by requiring only a thru structure. Otherwise, it would be necessary to create a complex fixture model for S-parameter de-embedding. For the R&D engineer, the result is clear -- a time savings of anywhere from 1-2 weeks plus a $10,000 savings per project that results from the elimination of fabricating additional calibration standards. With such benefits, this wizard pays for itself after just one use and continues to save the engineer money on all subsequent projects. The automatic fixture removal wizard accomplishes the same goal as the Differential Crosstalk Calibration Wizard, but is used when the engineer has only a thru structure. If no thru structure is available, the engineer would instead use the TRL wizard to design and build a complete TRL calibration kit.

Also being released today is the latest version of the PLTS software, version 5.0. It features a number of new capabilities, including a probe calibration wizard containing specific calibration parameters for commonly used probes and a batch file converter for de-embedding many measurements at one time. Version 5.0 of the PLTS software also provides users with a DC point input for low-frequency accuracy for time domain excellence and the ability to import bit pattern files from either scope or BERT equipment for eye diagram synthesis. In addition, the new "refresh calibration" feature of PLTS version 5.0 allows for post-calibration corrections without completely re-doing the complete calibration cycle, thereby saving hours of valuable calibration time. Both the advanced calibration option and PLTS software version 5.0 will be showcased at DesignCon, in Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 3-5.

"We are excited to offer our customers such a powerful signal integrity toolset," said Gregg Peters, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Component Test Division. "Thanks to the breadth of functionality provided by PLTS 5.0 and the advanced calibration option, it virtually pays for itself after a single use. This is the first time such complex interconnect design capabilities have been so easy to use."

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A)

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