Phase noise test system debuts at IMS 2019

Posted By : Mick Elliott

A phase noise measurement system for "power users", which enables them to optimise and prove performance of new designs, meet operational requirements, as well as remain on schedule and on budget has been introduced by Keysight Technologies.

Phase noise is an unwanted phase modulation noise that emerges in nearly all radio frequency and microwave devices including oscillators, mixers, dividers, multipliers and amplifiers.

Power users, including professionals responsible for developing high-performance aerospace and defense applications as well as cutting-edge device characterization for 5G and other wireless communication systems, need to validate the phase noise performance of their designs. 

Keysight's N5511A phase noise test system (PNTS) models are available in three frequency ranges - from 50kHz and going up to 3, 26.5, or 40GHz with offsets from .01Hz to 160MHz internally.

It can be configured for either single or dual-channel operation and offers the following key technology features:

  • Flexible architecture for easy integration of external reference sources enabling users to select from a variety of commercially-available low-noise sources
  • Phase detector (quadrature) technique maximises dynamic range
  • Absolute and residual measurements on both continuous wave and pulsed signals
  • Cross spectral averaging (cross-correlation) to measure noise approaching the limits of physics, down to the kT (–177 dBm/Hz) thermal noise floor, by removing uncorrelated noise between two channels and enabling users to see the real performance of their device under test

The flexible and scalable architecture of Keysight's N5511A PNTS enables power users to:

  • Quickly solve specific challenges in phase noise by removing uncorrelated reference noise, system noise and any additional uncorrelated noise from signal conditioning devices such as attenuators and amplifiers
  • Generate faster measurements using hardware acceleration with fast Fourier transform (FFT) and cross-correlation in a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), rather than software on a CPU
  • Simplify set-up of residual measurements using the phase noise measurement interface (PNMI) accessory
  • Stay ahead of the leading edge in metrology and calibration and adapt to future needs by upgrading from single channel to dual channel (for cross-correlation) and integrating other PXI modules for new functionality

Consisting of phase detector and data conversion modules housed in a custom, low-noise single PXIe mainframe four units (4U) high, the N5511A occupies minimal rack space. The system software included runs on an integrated PC controller using the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system.

Keysight will demonstrate the N5511A Phase Noise Test System at the International Microwave Symposium in Boston (June 4 - 6).


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