May 4, 2014. Agilent Technologies Inc. has announced a series of enhancements for its MXA and EXA X-Series signal analyzers. The enhancements are useful for engineers performing wireless communications and general-purpose testing at various phases of the product life cycle, from R&D and design verification to manufacturing and installation.
Agilent said its MXA signal analyzer now offers best-in-class sensitivity, along with higher frequency stability and coverage—effectively raising the bar on the level of performance expected of traditional midrange instruments.
The MXA achieves best-in-class sensitivity through a new Noise Floor Extension (NFE) feature. With this optional capability, the analyzer yields up to a 9-dB sensitivity improvement over MXA models without NFE, without having to compromise the third-order intercept. This capability is based on the latest advanced noise modeling technology and can be accessed with just a license key. The higher sensitivity enables RF engineers to more accurately measure weak signals in the presence of larger ones. A set of new USB smart external preamplifiers, available for all X-Series signal analyzers, further improves sensitivity and noise figure.
The MXA and EXA achieve higher frequency stability with a new atomic frequency reference (AFR) option. The option builds on a previous improvement in the analyzers’ short-term frequency stability by offering a 100X improvement in long-term frequency stability. The increased frequency stability allows base-station installers to verify the synchronization of signals transmitted within a multiple antenna system at the highest precision, thereby providing the best possible quality of service.
Higher-frequency coverage for the MXA is possible via an external mixing option. The option covers frequencies beyond 26.5 GHz and up to 110 GHz with Agilent M1970 smart mixers, and to 1.1 THz with a Virginia Diodes Inc. (VDI) frequency extender. The option allows engineers to measure millimeter-wave signals and up to terahertz without having to buy a separate high-end analyzer. With carrier frequencies moving toward millimeter-wave and higher in modern applications like backhaul connections for wireless communications, this capability is now more essential for accurate signal analysis.
“Engineers are facing a number of challenges as they begin working in millimeter-wave and higher frequencies, including more accurately identifying and measuring weak or previously unknown signals, as well as achieving a higher level of frequency stability,” said Jim Curran, marketing manager for Agilent’s Microwave and Communications Division. “Each of the enhancements offered by Agilent provides engineers new insight to keep pace with evolving wireless industry requirements.”
The MXA and EXA signal analyzers also now support an option that enables the fastest-in-class power measurements. This fast power option speeds power measurements made by the MXA or EXA, such as adjacent channel power ratio (ACPR) and band density, by up to 4X, saving significant test time and increasing productivity.
Option prices range from $2,805 for external mixing for MXA to $13,000 for a 2- to 50-GHz USB preamplifier.