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New test products at DesignCon 2016

-January 27, 2016

Measurement at DesignCon takes several forms. From a signaling perspective, oscilloscopes displaying eye diagrams are all over the exhibit hall, in demonstrations, and in technical papers. In addition, VNAs play a big part because engineers need to characterize transmission paths such as PCB traces, connectors, and cables.

Here are some of the new test products on display at DesignCon 2016.

Keysight Technologies
PAM4 is changing the game when it comes to BER (bit-error ratio) measurements. Because the raw BER (before error correction) on a PAM4 signal runs about 10E-6, real-time oscilloscopes with deep memory can now measure BER and analyze errors. With NRZ signals, the raw BER is so low that errors were too infrequent for real-time oscilloscopes to analyze.

Keysight Technologies has added PAM4 signal analysis to its Infiniium-class oscilloscopes. In the video below, Keysight's Brig Asay demonstrates how the oscilloscopes can capture and trigger on PAM4 bit errors.

The company also demonstrated its test capabilities for USB Type-C, which combines high-power delivers with high-speed signals. In the video below, Brian Fetz explains a measurement application for USB Type-C.

National Instruments
VirtualBench, NI's five-in-one bench instrument, now has two models. The latest model VB-8034, has four 350-MHz channels as where the original model (VB-8012) has two 100-MHz channels. In addition, you can now control either model over a wireless connection from a PC, tablet, or smartphone. VirtualBench can now connect to your Wi-Fi network where you can get control them or they can operate an access points. The VB-8034 also adds wired Ethernet connectivity.

Both models come with 34 logic inputs, a 5½-digit DMM, a 20-MHz function generator, and DC power supply.

Prices: VB-8012 remains at $1999. VB-8034 is priced at $5999. See a live demonstration of the VB-8034 at DesignCon 2016 in the video below.

See my hands-on review of the two-channel, 100-MHz VirtualBench.


Teledyne LeCroy
The oscilloscope and protocol-analyzer company had several products on display at DesignCon 2016. The company introduced the HDA125 ($20,900) digital acquisition system captures 18 channels of digital data at 12.5 GS/s. The system adds mixed-signal data capture to the company's oscilloscopes, letting you view activity on buses such as DDR memory.

I was also treated to a demonstration of a PCI Express compliance test. A Python script, running in an oscilloscope, controls the test and produces a test report.

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