New digitiser cards deliver 4.7GHz signal acquisition and analysis

20-09-2023 | Spectrum | Test & Measurement

Spectrum Instrumentation has expanded the M5i flagship series of high-speed PCIe digitisers, adding two new models with ultrawide bandwidths that go up to 4.7GHz for -3dB attenuation or even 5GHz for -5dB attenuation. The models M5i.3360-x16 and M5i.3367-x16 supply one and two channels, respectively. Each card can sample at rates up to 10GS/s, with 12-bit vertical resolution, particularly designed to deliver the most accurate acquisition and analysis of signals in the GHz range. The high bandwidth, incorporated with fast sampling, permits signals to be analysed for frequency content anywhere from DC to the Nyquist limit (half the sample rate, or up to 5GHz), making them excellent for working with extremely fast signals in laser systems, semiconductor testing, spectroscopy, reflectometry and a wide variety of RF applications.

Oliver Rovini, chief technical officer, said: "At 4.7GHz, these new digitiser cards offer our highest bandwidth capability to date. More bandwidth means less signal attenuation at higher frequencies. It also makes it possible to detect and measure faster pulses and signal edge speeds. As such, bandwidth is critical for any engineer or scientist who wants to measure and characterise high-frequency electronic signals. Our flagship digitiser line, that is based on 12-bit ADC technology, now has seven different models with sampling rates from 3.2GS/s to 10GS/s and bandwidths from 1GHz to 4.7GHz. The range lets our customers choose the performance level that perfectly fits their specific requirements."

The raw acquisition performance is complimented by flexible front-end circuitry with programmable full-scale ranges, from ±200mV to ±2.5V, and input offset to handle diverse input signals. Acquisitions can be stored in a generous 4GB (2GSamples) of onboard memory (16GB or 8GSamples optional) and transferred over the PCIe bus at the fastest speeds possible. All cards of the M5i series use 16-lane, Gen 3 PCIe technology, which enables the acquired data to be streamed at a staggering 12.8GB/s. The onboard memory can be employed as a ring-buffer, working like a conventional oscilloscope, or fully as a FIFO-buffer for continuous data streaming. The data can also be sent to PC memory for storage or directly to CPUs and CUDA-based GPUs for customised signal processing and analysis.

Acquisitions can be made in single-shot or multiple-waveform recording modes. Multiple-waveform recording permits capturing numerous events, even at very high trigger rates. Conventional edge triggering, which includes trigger time stamping, is enhanced by several sophisticated trigger modes that help capture the most elusive events. These include Window, Re-Arm, Delay and Software triggers, and the ability to use the cards inputs (channel, trigger and digital lines) to set up specific trigger conditions based on Boolean logic.

Perfect for automated testing systems, the cards arrive with all the tools required to use them on a PC running either a Windows or Linux operating system. An SDK allows the cards to be programmed with today's most popular languages, such as C, C++, C#, Delphi, VB.NET, J#, Python, Julia, Java, LabVIEW, and MATLAB. The SDK includes all the necessary driver libraries and numerous programming examples. Alternatively, for users who want to avoid writing their own code, the company offers SBench 6 Professional. SBench 6 is a powerful measurement GUI for full card control, with display, analysis, storage, and documentation capabilities. It also comprises processing techniques such as FFTs for frequency domain analysis and data interpolation for improved timing measurements.

The new data acquisition cards offer a five-year product warranty, with free software and firmware updates and customer support directly from the engineering team for the product's life.

By Seb Springall