High precision arbitrary waveform generators

June 17, 2015 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Spectrum has released three M4i series arbitrary waveform generators (AWGs) that set new standards in speed and precision.

The latest models of the M4i.66xx series offer one, two and four channels with each channel capable of outputting electronic signals at rates of up to 625 MSamples/s with 16 bit vertical resolution. The combination makes these arbitrary waveform generators ideal for generating high frequency signals up to 200 MHz with the best possible accuracy and fidelity.

The frequency range and dynamic performance of these instruments makes them ideal for communications, radio, radar, semiconductors, nano-technology, media testing, automation, ultrasound, optics, medical and biological science.

Based on the company's proven M4i series PCI Express (PCIe) platform the products are much smaller than conventional instruments and can be used in most modern PCs. Simply install the AWG cards into a vacant PCIe x8 or x16 slot, install the driver, load Spectrum's software and start generating waveforms. The AWGs are fully programmable and work with the company's own SBench 6 control software as well as third party software tools such as LabVIEW, LabWindows and MATLAB.

To allow the generation of long and complex waveforms, the AWGs include a generous 2 GSamples of on-board memory and a number of operating modes such as Single-Shot, Loop, FIFO, Gating and Sequence Replay. The Sequence Replay mode allows to store different waveform segments in memory and concat and loop them in a sequence. Furthermore users can switch between stored waveforms by software command or overload waveforms in run-time.

In FIFO mode, the cards use an ultra-fast PCIe x8 Gen2 interface to stream data continuously from the PC memory to the AWG at speeds in excess of 1.5 GB/s. If two or four channels are used, the outputs are fully synchronized and share a common clock to ensure minimal phase error. If more channels are needed then up to 8 cards can be connected together with Spectrum's Star-Hub clock and trigger system. Star-Hub enables instruments with up to 32 fully synchronous channels to be created.