NI updates its Vector Signal Transceiver to 2nd-gen, 1-GHz b/w

July 12, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
When National Instruments introduced its VST – vector signal transceiver – it presented it as a completely new category of test instrumentation. Aimed at the “most demanding RF design and test applications” its updated VST has 5X the bandwidth, a 33% smaller footprint and larger user-programmable FPGA.

The NI PXIe-5840 module is presented as the first 1 GHz bandwidth VST, that gives engineers with more advanced software-designed instrumentation to stay ahead of complex and rapidly changing wireless technologies and requirements. 


The NI PXIe-5840 combines a 6.5 GHz RF vector signal generator, 6.5 GHz vector signal analyser, high-performance user-programmable FPGA and high-speed serial and parallel digital interfaces into a single 2-slot PXI Express module. With 1 GHz of bandwidth, the latest VST is suited for a wide range of applications including 802.11ac/ax device testing, mobile/Internet of Things device testing, 5G design and testing, RFIC testing, radar prototyping and more.


NI presents the VST as both an instrument that can be used for many test functions “as-delivered” - and also as a software-defined unit in which the signal path and test profile can be customised by configuring the embedded FPGA, which is now a Xilinx Virtex-7 class device. By programming the FPGA to carry out specific functions, it can act as an “accelerator”, speeding complex measurements. NI says, “Using the intuitive LabVIEW system design software, engineers can transform the VST into exactly what they need it to be at the firmware level and ultimately address the most demanding test and measurement challenges. This instrument is an unparalleled example of a product that delivers the RF performance required for traditional test and measurement and the flexibility of a software defined radio.”

The PXI unit features;

- 1 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth for advanced digital pre-distortion (DPD) test and wideband signals such as radar, LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G

- Measurement accuracy that enables systems based on the second-generation VST to measure 802.11ac Error Vector Magnitude (EVM) performance of -50 dB

- Measurement speeds up to 10X faster than traditional instrumentation using FPGA-based measurement acceleration and highly optimised measurement software

- Small size and tight synchronisation allowing for up to 8x8 multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) configuration in a single