8 channel PCIe card enables 80 synchronized 16bit AWG channels in one PC

8 channel PCIe card enables 80 synchronized 16bit AWG channels in one PC

New Products |
By Nick Flaherty

Integrating eight AWG channels with cooling on a single PCIe-card that is 168 mm long provides new options for compact and affordable test systems.

The two new eight channel cards on Spectrum’s “65” series can be connected via a Star-Hub to provide up to 80 channels can be fully synchronized in a single PC. All the cards in the series support 512Msamples of on-board memory to store and replay waveforms from DC to 60 MHz. Using the PCIe-x4 platform, these AWGs provide a data transfer speed which is 5 to 10 times higher than in approaches, offering 700 MByte/s of FIFO streaming speed. This is suitable for automated testing to replay lots of different test signals over many channels to accurately recreate real world test conditions. Applications include component testing, automotive, robotics, aerospace, medical and industrial ultrasound, LIDAR, radar and sonar.

“This family of AWG cards has the lowest noise of any AWGs that we have so far designed, being more than 20% lower when compared to our predecessor AWG families,” said Oliver Rovini, Spectrum’s CTO. “In addition, these cards now have 16-bit resolution and a clock being twenty times more accurate at only ±1 ppm. We already have a university research department using an AWG to control the placement of individual atoms.”

The system cost of the card-based AWG architecture is also lower than dedicated, self-contained AWG solutions, even allowing for the cost of a PC to house the Spectrum cards. This opens up new application areas that were restricted due to the high costs of multi-point, dedicated AWG solutions.

The M2p.6533-x4 has eight 40 MS/s channels and the M2p.6568-x4 that can be configured with eight channels of 80 MS/s or four of 125 MS/s. Unlike the six previously released models that offer up to four channels, the new eight channel versions are equipped with an additional cooling system making them 2 slots wide.

All eight models of the M2p.65xx series are half-length PCIe cards and only 168 mm in length. The maximum output swing, even with the 8 channel versions, is ±6 V into 1 MOhm or ±3 V into 50 Ohms. The cards are shipped with Spectrum’s SBench 6 control software that allows out of the box operation for card control and signal generation.

“Spectrum’s card-based solutions provide the user with complete flexibility to have a perfect fit for current needs and then add or change cards as the test environment changes,” said Gisela Hassler, CEO of Spectrum. “Importantly, our API is universal across all our products so that the investment in developing test programmes is always protected. And our unique 5-year warranty as standard provides further protection for the longevity of test solutions based on our products. They are used in industrial, scientific and research projects with lifespans of many years and demanding the most reliable test and measurement instrumentation.”

For applications that require the connection of AWGs and Digitizers, such as stimulus-response or closed-loop applications, Spectrum’s Star-Hub piggy-back module synchronizes up to 16 different M2p class products. The new M2p.65xx AWGs match perfectly with the M2p.59xx 16-bit digitizers released in 2018. The M2p.59xx digitizers offer one to eight channels with sampling rates between 20 MS/s and 125 MS/s. The Star-Hub distributes a common clock and all trigger signals to each card ensuring fully synchronous operation. Star-Hub systems are also perfect for situations where multiple test points, or arrays of sensors, need to be stimulated by different test signals at the same time.

The cards are fully programmable and drivers are provided, free of charge, to support the most popular languages (such as C++, VB.NET, C#, J#, Delphi, Java or Python) as well as third party software tools like LabVIEW and MATLAB. Alternatively, users can simply run Spectrum’s own software, SBench 6 Professional.

Once installed in a PC, the AWG cards are easy to integrate with other test and measurement devices. The signal outputs as well as clock and trigger inputs are provided via front-panel SMB connectors. The front-panel also hosts four multi-function MMCX connectors, which can be used for different tasks such as additional digital output channels (marker channels), clock, trigger or status output as well as asynchronous I/O lines. This high level of connectivity allows the AWG cards to be easily adapted into most automated test system environments.

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