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National Instruments Introduces Solution for Phase-Coherent RF Measurements

National Instruments Introduces Solution for Phase-Coherent RF Measurements


National Instruments introduced new RF vector signal generators (VSGs) and vector signal analyzers (VSAs) in two-channel, three-channel and four-channel versions for multichannel multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) RF design and test applications. The NI PXIe-5663E 6.6 GHz two-, three- and four-channel RF VSA and NI PXIe-5673E 6.6 GHz two-, three- and four-channel RF VSG versions, based on PXI Express, incorporate a shared local oscillator (LO) architecture to achieve true phase coherency between each RF port, which facilitates more accurate channel-to-channel phase measurements in a variety of RF test applications. Because of this and other advanced features, the instruments are ideal for prototyping and testing multichannel MIMO wireless devices such as those built for WiMAX, Long Term Evolution (LTE), 802.11n and other next-generation wireless communication standards.

Systems based on the new NI multichannel VSGs and VSAs combine NI LabVIEW graphical system design software with modular NI PXI instrumentation. These instruments complete an integrated software-defined, phase-coherent measurement system for MIMO, direction finding, radar test and beamforming applications that require channel-to-channel RF port synchronization. For engineers with existing NI PXI RF systems, the instruments’ software helps to configure NI PXI hardware to their individual prototyping requirements.

“The RF instrumentation from National Instruments has been an excellent, cost-effective solution for our four-channel record-and-playback system," said Steve Seiden, vice president of Cal-Bay Atlantic, a leading RF device manufacturer. "Using LabVIEW example code and PXI modular instruments from NI, we configured each channel to be completely phase-coherent. Our system, based on the NI PXIe-5663 6.6 GHz four-channel RF VSA, implemented a common local oscillator between modules to achieve better than 0.1 degree channel-to-channel jitter at a 1 GHz carrier frequency. We are very pleased with these results.”

NI multichannel RF VSGs and VSAs provide a commercial off-the-shelf solution to engineers seeking a flexible, cost-effective alternative to the high cost and high complexity of traditional MIMO instrument configurations. By combining LabVIEW software with PXI modular RF hardware into a single integrated system, multichannel PXI RF instrumentation delivers an ideal solution in a compact form factor. This system saves engineers time and money because it is preconfigured to meet advanced MIMO prototyping and test requirements, helps reduce power consumption and eliminates the time-intensive troubleshooting involved with configuring proprietary MIMO development and test systems.

The multichannel VSGs and VSAs are available with a wide selection of modular PXI Express instrumentation that engineers can customize for each application, providing the option to purchase only the instruments that meet their needs. The standard package includes a two-, three- or four-channel NI PXIe-5673 RF VSG or NI PXIe-5663 RF VSA. With the compact configuration of the PXI instrumentation, a standard 18-slot PXI chassis can accommodate both a four-channel VSA and a two-channel VSA. In addition, phase-coherent RF test systems are scalable, accommodating up to 16-by-16 MIMO configurations using multiple PXI chassis. The system also includes ready-to-use LabVIEW example code, which supports multichannel signal generation and acquisition in a ready-to-run experience.

To view a video about NI MIMO solutions, you can visit

Company profile:  National Instruments

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Current issue
#4 December 2021
KIPiS 2021 #4
Topic of the issue:
Modern instrumentation