Software Shapes Next-Generation RF Instrumentation

Source: Keithley Instruments, Inc.
By Mike Millhaem, Keithley Instruments, Inc.

Software-defined radio architectures allow engineers to design flexible new instruments, giving end-users more versatility while reducing equipment costs.

The growth of RF technology in the wireless communication industry over the past few years has been astonishing. This year alone, more than 850 million cellular phones will be manufactured and sold around the globe. As production volumes rise, test engineers are being challenged to increase their test throughput and decrease their cost of test. The rapid development of new standards also requires new sourcing and measurement capabilities.

One way in which test equipment vendors have risen to the challenge is to design instruments that are more flexible. New technologies like software-defined radio (SDR) architectures let engineers design instruments that are flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the industry.

SDR Definition

The essence of an SDR implementation is that the modulation and demodulation functions performed on RF signals are done by digitizing the signals and using software and processing techniques, rather than dedicated hardware. This approach allows transmitting or receiving a wide variety of signals more economically than with dedicated, modulation- specific hardware.

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Article: Software Shapes Next-Generation RF Instrumentation