As wireless communications networks look to a 5G future, the test and measurement industry faces significant challenges in meeting the revolution head on. To accommodate the huge array of devices and applications the market will require, 5G will be more a leap forward than a step up.
This new 5G ecosystem will be built on technologies that create faster connections with lower latency, while enabling the connection of far more devices than in previous generations. Implied by this breadth of use cases are new and challenging with component requirements that demand two critical capabilities from test and measurement equipment:
Measuring performance across a much wider frequency spectrum (including millimeter waves at 28 GHz and 39 GHz)
Conducting these measurements on previously unsurpassed bandwidths (>1 GHz) with an increased signal-to-noise ratio
Being Ready for 5G
Electronic test and measurement always needs to be ahead of the latest technology. And when that technology is as disruptive and impactful as 5G, getting and staying ahead often requires strong relationships with suppliers who can function as partners as well as parts providers. As wireless broadband technology has evolved from generation to generation, ETM manufacturers have often been able to rely on software-heavy upgrades to adapt to changes with lower risk changes to hardware given the well-known frequencies in use. The move to 5G will require much more advanced solutions as the industry moves to millimeter waves for radio transmission. “Rohde & Schwarz knew that the design would be challenging,” said Duncan Bosworth, general manager, instrumentation at Analog Devices. Rohde & Schwarz took advantage of its long relationship with Analog Devices to ensure it could maximize the performance of the critical parts.
“We shared our concepts with them early on in the design process,” added Bosworth. “We had frequent discussions and we routinely brought in our best people”. This partnership approach ensured both organizations were aligned on goals so that Rohde & Schwarz could be confident the ADI solution would meet the project’s very high performance requirements.
Bringing Test Innovation to Market
Rohde & Schwarz has developed the R&S®SMW200A vector signal generator and the R&S®FSW signal and spectrum analyzer. Both enable high frequency testing with a low noise floor, creating value for a versatile set of applications. And both instruments were designed to address the 5G challenge by generating and analyzing millimeter wave signals with up to 2 GHz wide modulation bandwidths, far surpassing the noise levels required by the end equipment requirements. These two pieces of equipment are testing the building blocks for the next generation of 5G equipment, both at millimeter wave frequencies and traditional sub-6 GHz cellular frequencies. Both products also use data converters and RF componentry from Analog Devices.
Helping Customers Help Their Customers
The need for Rohde & Schwarz’s equipment to handle higher frequencies and significantly more bandwidth meant the focus for ADI was on RF and converter performance.
With ADI converters and RF components, the R&S®SMW200A vector signal generator provides modulation bandwidth of up to 2 GHz with internal baseband to satisfy fourth- and fifth-generation standards. It is also designed to meet future requirements with a modular scalable architecture that allows users to optimize the generator to their applications and to upgrade it as required.
The R&S®FSW signal and spectrum analyzer uses the advanced high-speed converter technology that helps deliver IF/RF sampling with superior speed and linearity. It enables the R&S®FSW to natively meet the demand for increasing analysis bandwidth up to 2 GHz.
Testing the Future
For Rohde & Schwarz’s customers, bringing next-generation ideas to market starts with making sure they work. That means the testing equipment needs to be better than the devices being tested. Seeing the right specifications on a data sheet is just the start. Being able to work closely with a supplier who can help get the most out of their products makes a difference. “The strong collaboration and open communication were significant benefits for us,” said Christoph Pointner, vice president signal generators, audio analyzers, and power meters at Rohde & Schwarz. “Because of that, we were confident that the performance levels ADI promised would be delivered. And that’s what happened here.” All of which meant Rohde & Schwarz could focus its resources on creating more value for its end customers.
Different Solutions for Different Customers
Not all ETM manufacturers have the resources to develop every part of the signal chain. Instead, they may need to leverage both a supplier’s products and its know-how. Analog Devices has an extremely broad and complete portfolio of high speed converter and RF products for next-generation wideband instrumentation that enables bandwidths beyond 4 GHz. It also has deep expertise in the ETM market that it makes available to its customers. “We not only look to develop innovative technologies and products, we also look to find innovative ways to help customers use them,” said Bosworth. That can cover a wide range of help. “Our systems engineering teams can fill resource gaps through support, services, and the design of complete instrument-grade signal chains.”
Meeting the Future Together
For many, the 5G future is drawing near. As it gets closer, the focus turns to electronic test and measurement, so for ETM manufacturers, 5G has already arrived. The unprecedented technologies of the 5G ecosystem will heighten demands on ETM products to measure performance across a vastly wider frequency spectrum and to do so on far greater bandwidths.
For ETM companies, meeting the challenges of 5G will require not only new products with greater capabilities, it will also involve new relationships to leverage expertise and collaboration. Rohde & Schwarz has the knowledge, competence, and capability needed for the 5G market. It is also able to rely on its partnership with Analog Devices to supply the componentry and support. Working together with ADI, Rohde & Schwarz is creating leading products to make reliable measurements for the future building blocks of 5G.
About Rohde & Schwarz
The Rohde & Schwarz technology group develops, produces, and markets innovative information and communications technology products for professional users. Rohde & Schwarz focuses on test and measurement, broadcast and media, cybersecurity, secure communications, and monitoring and network testing, areas that address many different industry and government-sector market segments.
R&S® is a registered trademark of Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG.
About Analog Devices
Analog Devices designs and manufactures semiconductor products and solutions. We enable our customers to interpret the world around us by intelligently bridging the physical and digital with unmatched technologies that sense, measure, and connect. Visit analog.com.