Aeroflex takes PXI into the realm of
RF communications test
Aeroflex 3000 Series
Table of Contents
Aeroflex takes PXI into the realm of RF communications 3
Aeroflex strategic product development overview 4
Aeroflex PXI phase one development 4
PXI software architecture applied to Aeroflex modules 5
A brief overview of PXI 8
Instrumentation bus history 9
Instrumentation bus milestones (Chart) 9
Key points for standalone bus technologies (Chart) 10
Modular versus standalone instruments (Chart) 10
Benefits of PXI 11
Comparison of test platforms (Chart) 12
Markets addressed by PXI 12
Applications served by the Aeroflex 3000 series 13
The Aeroflex 3000 series highlights
3010 RF synthesizer 14
3020 RF signal generator 14
3020 software support 16
3030 RF digitizer 17
3030 software support 17
3060 RF combiner 18
3GPP1 mobile uplink code domain analysis 19
3GPP1 mobile uplink EVM analysis 19
3GPP1 mobile uplink ACLR analysis 20
GSM/EDGE burst profile 20
GSM/EDGE spectrum due to modulation 21
GSM phase error 21
Aeroflex takes PXI into the realm of RF communications
As part of its strategy to provide customers with flexible and cost-effective test
systems, Aeroflex has launched the Aeroflex 3000 series, a PXI-based modular test
suite for mobile phone and general-purpose wireless test.
Aeroflex is the first company to bring to market high-performance RF test
capability in PXI, an inherently flexible and cost-effective platform. With a long history
in systems development, Aeroflex is extending its vast systems experience into the
PXI instrumentation market.
The Aeroflex 3000 series encompasses four PXI modules and supporting
applications for signal generation and signal analysis that meet the specific
requirements for GSM/EDGE and UMTS/WCDMA mobile phone testing. Applications
include automated measurement of parametric performance of terminal transmitter
and receiver characteristics; terminal TX and RX alignment and performance
characterization for manufacturing; and research and development. In addition, the
Aeroflex 3000 series expands PXI’s speed and modularity into the realm of general-
purpose wireless testing—the new high-performance 3020 2.5 GHz signal generator
module can be used for general purpose continuous wave (CW) and digital signal
generation for wireless device testing and characterization.
The new Aeroflex PXI wireless test suite includes:
3010 3 GHz RF synthesizer (single-slot 3U)
3020 2.5 GHz RF signal generator (two-slot 3U)
3030 3 GHz RF digitizer (two-slot 3U)
3060 2.5 GHz RF combiner (single-slot 3U)
GSM/EDGE measurement suite
UMTS measurement suite
IQ Creator waveform creation tool
Aeroflex strategic product development overview
The Aeroflex PXI product development plan is the result of intensive
technology investigation and research into customer needs in the RF
communications test market. Aeroflex will develop modules and instruments using
PXI, not only out of recognition of the market growth opportunity, but also because
customer needs can be met in a timely and cost-effective way. Taking PXI into the
RF realm broadens the choices for system developers and accelerates the adoption
of PXI in a major test market segment.
The Aeroflex strategy calls for the phased introduction of a range of PXI
modules, software application libraries and test instrument configurations. Each
Aeroflex module has been carefully defined to maximize reuse potential for
development of future modules. Wherever possible, Aeroflex will produce customer-
specific solutions for wireless applications.
Aeroflex PXI phase one development
The focus for early phases of PXI module development is the digital
communications development and manufacturing test markets. Customers in this
segment are already familiar with Aeroflex standalone products. Aeroflex will expand
the PXI program internally and in cooperation with industry partners.
Phase one of the PXI development addresses the basic building blocks for RF
communications test systems. In order to exploit the benefits of PXI, RF test system
developers must first have their needs met for performance and functionality,
particularly in the areas of RF signal stimulus and RF signal analysis.
The RF synthesizer has been used by Aeroflex as a test bed for proving the
viability of using PXI for RF instrumentation based upon the patented fractional N
synthesizer. The 3020 RF signal generator module is used in conjunction with the
3010 RF synthesizer to provide modulation and waveform generation, RF levelling
and frequency tuning from 250 MHz to 2.5 GHz.
The 3030 RF digitizer provides frequency down conversion and high dynamic
range analog to digital conversion for measurement and real time applications. The
3030 RF digitizer is used with the 3010 RF synthesizer, which provides the tuneable
local oscillator (LO).
Finally, the 3060 RF combiner module provides UUT interfacing to the 3020
and 3030 modules for mobile radio and RF component test applications.
Each Aeroflex PXI module will be supplied with VXIplugandplay (VXIpnp)
drivers for maximum compatibility with industry standard software development
PXI software architecture applied to Aeroflex modules
The software requirements of PXI modular instrumentation are largely defined
by the PXI software specification and the VXIplug&play specification. The PXI
software specification is managed by the PXI Systems Alliance. The VXIplug&play
specification is managed by the VXIplug&play Systems Alliance, which in turn is
managed by the Interchangeable Virtual Instrument (IVI) Foundation, a not-for-profit
organization. The goal of IVI is to maximize the interchangeability of test system
instrument hardware without the need for software redevelopment.
The PXI software specification defines standard frameworks for PXI systems.
The specification stipulates that the module device driver software must run within a
given framework, where the framework is based on the 32-bit Microsoft Windows
operating systems, covering Windows 9x, Me, NT, 2000 and XP. A recommendation
of the PXI software specification is for PXI module compatibility with well-established
development environments including National Instruments’ LabVIEW and
LabWindows/CVI, Microsoft Visual C/C++ and Visual Basic.
The PXI modular hardware is configured and controlled by a device driver
implemented using the Virtual Instrument Software Architecture (VISA). The VISA
architecture is an I/O software standard, defined by the VXIplug&play specification,
and adopted for PXI as well as GPIB, VXI, VME and serial instrumentation. National
Instruments’ NI-VISA is the version of VISA used in the Aeroflex PXI development. It
promotes interoperability of the software.
Each Aeroflex PXI module will be provided with a software driver as both a
DLL (dynamic link library) for use within the standard frameworks and software
development environments described above, and as a set of source code. Providing
source code for the drivers allows end-users to adapt device drivers to their own
specific needs. The drivers are developed using LabWindows/CVI, with some lower-
level driver libraries coded using Visual C/C++. In addition to the driver DLL and
source, a soft front panel will be provided for each module. The panel allows the end-
user to test the module and perform basic operations.
The 3010 RF synthesizer module and 3020 RF signal generator module
together form a digital RF signal generator; the 3010 and 3020 device drivers can be
integrated to provide an ActiveX control that offers signal generator functions and
properties. To this ActiveX control, a soft front panel can be attached to provide a
fuller range of signal generator capabilities of the combined modules.
Similarly, the 3010 RF synthesizer module and the 3030 RF digitizer module
can be integrated to form a RF signal analyzer. An ActiveX control can then provide
the relevant functions and properties for digitizing and analyzing the data. A soft front
panel provides the associated user interface capabilities.
Measurement analysis capabilities for various modulation types, such as
3GPP1, GSM, EDGE and cdma2000, can be developed in Visual C/C++ as ActiveX
Since many of the elements of the PXI software are developed as ActiveX
controls or DLLs, Aeroflex software provides an environment that offers modularity,
reuse and expandability.
A brief overview of PXI
PXI derives its name from the PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation specification
that defines a rugged personal computer-based bus as the basis for a common
platform for measurement and automation systems. PXI uses the high-speed
Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus combined with the rugged, modular
Eurocard mechanical packaging of CompactPCI and adds mechanical, electrical and
software features that define complete systems for test and measurement, data
acquisition and manufacturing applications. These extensions make it easy for end
users and integrators to quickly build open, multi-vendor measurement and
PXI was designed to bridge the gap between desktop PC systems and high-
end VXI and GPIB bus systems. While standard PCs offer a very low-cost option for
instrumentation systems, they fail to meet many of the needs of industrial and
embedded applications. VXI and GPIB systems meet the specific needs of
instrumentation users, but are often too large and expensive.
While PXI extends CompactPCI, it also maintains complete interoperability so
the user can deploy any CompactPCI-compliant product in a PXI system and vice
versa. PXI extensions also leverage off other standard technologies, such as
Windows software, VXI timing and triggering, VXIplug&play instrument drivers, and
international environmental testing standards to deliver a powerful and affordable
The PXI Systems Alliance (PXISA), formed in 1997, supports PXI. Its
membership of more than 50 suppliers offers around 800 different PXI products. If
CompactPCI modules are included, then the total number of products available is
closer to 1,100.
The role of the PXISA is to promote the PXI standard, ensure interoperability
and maintain the PXI specification. The PXI specification is currently released at
version 2.1 – February 4, 2003.
Instrumentation bus history
Instrumentation bus technology has evolved over the past 30 years. It falls into
two main categories, standalone and modular. The main standalone bus technology
during this time has been General Purpose Interface Bus (GPIB) and, to a lesser
degree, RS-232, with more recent emergence of Ethernet, Universal Serial Bus
(USB) and IEEE-1394 (Firewire).
Modular bus technologies have evolved from VME into VXI and more recently
from PCI into CompactPCI and now PXI. Modular bus technology offers many
advantages over older bus standards. However, they must overcome an enormous
installed base of users worldwide.
Instrumentation Bus Milestones
Hardware Milestones Software Milestones Comments
1975 GPIB (HPIB) Later to Approx 5-10
become 488.1 million GPIB
Defines Parallel Bus cable
physical, mechanical, instruments
electrical parameters are currently
1987 GPIB 488.2. Software structure
defined and formalized
1987 VXI Modular architecture
based on VME
1990 SCPI, Standardized Command
Set for Programmable
1993 Formation of VXI plug&play
Alliance to standardize
instrument driver software
1995 Emergence of
instrumentation with USB
and ENET connectivity
1997 Formation of PXI Systems
Alliance to standardize and
1998 Formation of IVI foundation
2003 HS488. Higher speed
GPIB increasing data rates
to 8 Mbyte from 1.5 Mbyte
Key Points for Standalone Bus Technologies
GPIB RS-232 Ethernet USB IEEE-1394
Speed 1.5 Mbyte to 28.8 kByte 1.25,12.5 1.5 Mbyte 100 Mbyte
8 Mbyte and USB V1.0
(HS488) 125 Mbyte 12 Mbyte
Products >100,000 >10,000 <100 <100 <10
Latency Low Low/Medium High High High
Max number of 14 1 No limit 127 63
Max cable 20m 15m No limit 30m 4.5m
Connectors Industrial Industrial/ Consumer Consumer Consumer
Triggering Minimal Minimal Minimal Minimal Minimal
Modular versus standalone instruments
Modular instruments offer many advantages over standalone instruments—all
of which are relevant to automated measurement applications associated with design
validation and manufacturing test.
Modular Instruments Standalone Instruments
Open/multi-vendor Closed / Proprietary
Easy integration Limited integration
Scalable Limited expandability
Standard SW model Proprietary SW model
Pay for what you NEED Pay for what you GET
Reconfigurable Fixed configuration
Benefits of PXI
PXI is the fastest-growing standard in test. Not since the introduction of GPIB
has there been such a surge of industry activity and market adoption. According to
Frost and Sullivan, the PXI market grew by 38 percent during 2001. PXI modular
instrumentation delivers a PC-based, standardized, high-performance measurement
and automation system at an affordable price.
Open standard, multiple vendors: PXI is an ideal platform for automated
test systems. Multiple vendors provide a wide array of instrumentation
modules, with more than 50 suppliers providing around 800 PXI products.
Small, compact, rugged package: For industrial applications that require
embedded control, PXI and a real-time operating system provide a perfect
solution. PXI delivers high performance in small, rugged packaging, making
PXI an ideal deployment platform for in-vehicle applications.
Large selection of PXI instruments and modules: Oscilloscopes, multi-
meters, waveform generators, RF analyzers and switch multiplexes are just
some of the many instrumentation modules available in PXI today.
Tight integration: You can achieve a higher degree of integration between
your test instruments than ever before with PXI. PXI offers simple ways to
integrate GPIB, VME, VXI, and serial instruments into your system.
Low cost: Because of their small size and tight integration, PXI modules and
systems are often lower in cost than alternative technologies.
Aeroflex views PXI as the ideal architecture for rapid product and custom
solution development. This has become an essential requirement to remain
competitive and satisfy market needs in fast evolving communications development
and manufacturing applications.
Comparison of Test Platforms
GPIB VXI PXI
Speed 1 Mbyte (488.2) 40 Mbyte to 132 Mbyte
to 8 Mbyte 80 Mbyte
Timing and None Defined
Product >10,000 >1,000 ~1,000
Form Factor Large Medium Small /
Standard None VXIplug&play
Modular NO YES
EMI Shielding Optional Defined Module
System Cost High Medium – Low - Medium
Markets addressed by PXI
The PXI architecture is primarily suited to automated measurement systems
used in design validation and manufacturing test. The Aeroflex PXI modules are a
direct fit for these markets—they have functionality and performance tailored to the
needs of mobile terminal measurement where speed, good RF performance,
repeatability and accuracy are key drivers.
The Aeroflex PXI modules have been designed to cater to the broadest
possible range of mobile terminal markets including private mobile radio (PMR),
cellular, WLAN, cordless telephone and military radio systems.
Applications served by the Aeroflex 3000 series
Applications for the Aeroflex 3000 series include automated measurement of
parametric performance of terminal transmitter and receiver characteristics. This
includes power analysis, spectral analysis and modulation analysis of analog and
digital transmitter signatures, together with various wanted and unwanted stimulus for
receiver sensitivity measurement. The 3000 series also services the needs of
component testing, whether it is a simple RF component or a highly integrated RF
integrated circuit (RFIC).
In manufacturing, the 3000 series will be used for terminal TX and RX
alignment and performance characterization prior to final assembly.
In R&D, the 3000 series modules will serve as RF transducer functional blocks
in full-blown system simulators. By utilizing the power real-time input/output features
of both the 3020 digital RF signal generator and 3030 RF signal analyzer with
external PXI-based DSP/FPGA modules, full Layer 1 coding and decoding can be
performed and then used in conjunction with system protocols to test terminal
The Aeroflex 3000 Series Highlights
3010 RF synthesizer
The 3010 RF synthesizer module is an industry first for PXI. The 3010 is a
high-performance frequency synthesizer covering the range 1.5 GHz to 3.0 GHz.
Using Aeroflex patented technology, the module provides 1 Hz frequency resolution,
combined with rack-and-stack phase noise performance and frequency agility, all in a
single-width 3U module.
Low Phase Noise: The 3010’s phase noise of typically –120 dBc/Hz at 20
kHz offset and floor noise below –150 dBc/Hz make it ideal for use in radio
communications test applications.
Frequency Agility: Frequency settling times of typically 200 s make the
3010 suitable for use in high-volume RF component test systems or in the testing of
High Stability Frequency Reference Variant: The 3010 RF synthesizer is
supplied for use with either an internal VCXO frequency standard or an external 10
MHz frequency reference. A high stability variant, 3011 is also available fitted with an
OCXO; a front panel connector allows connection to other equipment. A selectable
settling time of either 2 ms or 200 µs enables the user to optimize the 3010
performance for switching speed or phase noise, dependant upon the application.
The 3010 RF synthesizer is used in conjunction with other Aeroflex modules to
form PXI instruments such as a digital RF signal generator or a RF digitizer. It may
also be used in conjunction with other third-party modules as the core synthesizer.
3020 RF signal generator
The 3020 RF signal generator together with the 3010 RF synthesizer form a
compact precision digital RF signal generator occupying just three slots in a 3U PXI
chassis. For the first time, system engineers can fully integrate RF source
requirements into their PXI test systems and by doing so, save space, cost and
improve system performance. Previously, engineers could not use PXI because RF
signal generator modules were simply not available. Now they can have confidence
that their entire precision RF signal generator needs can be met in PXI.
The versatile two-slot wide 3020 RF signal generator produces IQ modulated
or CW signals from 250 MHz to 2.5 GHz with an IQ bandwidth of up to 15 MHz. The
single-slot 3010 RF synthesizer provides a low noise, agile local oscillator input.
The performance of the 3020 RF signal generator makes it ideal for
generating the complex modulated signals for digital radio communications test
applications. Modulation linearity for UMTS W-CDMA signals is better than 55dB—a
comfortable test margin for measuring mobile transmitters. The 3020’s level
accuracy, repeatability and switching speed make it a tough act to follow for high-
volume automated production test.
The internal arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) has a capacity of 32
Msamples. This flexible AWG can be used to store either a single long waveform or a
collection of smaller waveforms up to the limit of the sample memory. Transfer of
waveforms between the controller and the AWG is fast by virtue of the wide
bandwidth of the PXI backplane.
For real-time measurement or system emulation applications, the 3020 RF
signal generator supports a LVDS digital IF interface. Digital IF samples can be
directly modulated onto the RF carrier. By preserving the waveform information as
digital IF data, no analog impairments are added to compromise signal quality.
The 3020 RF signal generator is supported by optional software applications
for waveform design for common radio systems such as GSM, EDGE, UMTS, IS136,
IS95 and cdma2000 as well as custom waveforms for FSK, PSK and QAM
3020 software support
The instrument driver software is supported by a soft front panel user interface
to permit manual control of the 3020 and 3010 to aid system development and code
The 3020 is compatible with Aeroflex’s IQ Creator software for waveform
creation. This WindowsTM application enables the design of complex modulation
3030 RF digitizer
The 3030 RF digitizer is the most compact digitizer of its type available in PXI.
It also boasts higher performance than any similar PXI product available today.
Consequently, it extends the range of PXI RF measurement possibilities further than
It is a precision broadband RF digitizer module in a compact 3U high, two-slot
wide PXI package. Used in conjunction with the 3010 RF synthesizer, the 3030
frequency down-converts and digitizes RF signals of up to 15 MHz bandwidth from
330 MHz to 3 GHz. It offers high linearity and low noise performance. It is ideally
suited for the analysis of radio signals—including 3G WCDMA. The combined
package of 3030 and 3010 occupies just three slots in a 3U-high PXI rack. The
nearest equivalent PXI product occupies 33 percent more space.
The 3030 RF digitizer outputs a set of amplitude- and phase-corrected digital
IF or IQ data samples with an amplitude accuracy of <0.5 dB. These samples are
processed in the system controller using application software in conjunction with the
3030 VXIpnp driver.
3030 software support
The instrument driver software is supported by a soft front panel user interface
to permit manual control of the 3030 and 3010 modules to aid system development
and code debugging.
Signal analysis application libraries for GSM/EDGE, UMTS and cdma2000
system personalities are available for use in conjunction with the 3030 RF digitizer.
These software applications are supplied as Active X components for use in a variety
of development environments including LabVIEW, LabWindows, Visual Basic and
C++. Each application library is supplied with a demonstration application. These
libraries include measurement of power, modulation quality and spectrum
measurement in accordance with the relevant standards for mobile terminal testing.
Additional libraries are available for spectrum analysis and amplifier characterization.
3060 RF combiner
The 3060 RF combiner is the first PXI module of its type designed specifically
for RF component and radio terminal system test. It is a high-performance four-port
RF combiner with a frequency range of 300 MHz to 2.5 GHz in a compact single-slot
3U PXI package.
The module is designed for use in RF test systems in conjunction with
Aeroflex’s 3020 RF signal generator and 3030 RF digitizer modules and equivalent
instruments. Together these modules enable the development of compact, high-
performance, low-cost, modular RF test systems. The 3060 RF combiner averts the
need for extraneous RF combiner and signal routing development in the test fixture,
thereby simplifying test system design.
The 3060 provides a single combined port (UUT port D) from any combination
of 3020 RF signal generator modules and 3030 RF digitizer modules connected to
ports A, B and C. To maximize flexibility, each port is bi-directional—allowing a wide
variety of system configurations to be supported.
The 3060 combiner module is supplied fully calibrated with frequency
response data stored internally. This data can be read by the test system and used to
offset stimulus input level in the 3020 RF signal generator and correct measurement
results in the 3030 RF digitizer. In this way, calibration to the plane of the DUT
connection point is maintained. The module also provides direct switch connection
between input ports to enable test system end-to-end calibration.
3GPP1 Mobile Uplink Code Domain Analysis
3GPP1 Mobile Uplink EVM Analysis
3GPP1 Mobile Uplink ACLR Measurement
GSM/EDGE Burst Profile
GSM /EDGE Spectrum Due To Modulation
GSM Phase Error