Waveform generators deliver lowest jitter, harmonic and non-harmonic distortion

August 22, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Agilent Technologies has introduced the 33500B Series waveform generators, comprising eight one- and two-channel models, which generate waveforms up to 30 MHz, and incorporate exclusive Trueform signal-generation technology. Trueform enables these models to offer unmatched capabilities for generating a full range of signals for the most demanding measurements required when designing electronic devices.

The 33500B waveform generators provide the lowest jitter and lowest total harmonic distortion in their class, giving engineers the ability to generate the exact signals they need. With better jitter performance, engineers can place edges more accurately, helping them reduce timing errors in their circuit designs. With total harmonic distortion less than 0.04 percent and non-harmonic spurs less than 75 dBc, the waveform generators offer clean signals that don’t introduce noise, enabling users to get more accurate results.

The 8.4-ns rise and fall times and low jitter allow engineers to set trigger points more accurately as well. Further, 16 bits of resolution allows engineers to make output changes down to 1 µV – giving them the ability to test today’s low-voltage circuits and designs.

The 33500B Series also offers easy software upgrades to expand the instruments’ capabilities when, for example, bandwidth needs to increased or true point-by-point arbitrary waveforms and deeper waveform memory need to be added.

Over the past two decades, direct digital synthesis has been the waveform-generation technology of choice in function generators and economical arbitrary waveform generators. Waveform generators built with DDS offer good frequency resolution, convenient custom waveforms and a low price. However, DDS has intrinsic limitations as well. Engineers with exacting requirements have had to either work around the compromised performance or spend up to 10 times more for a high-end, point-by-point waveform generator.

“Trueform technology offers a new alternative that blends the best of DDS and point-by-point architectures, giving engineers the benefits of both without the limitations of either,” said Gary Whitman, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s System Products Division. “Trueform technology uses an exclusive digital sampling technique that delivers unmatched performance at the same low price customers expect with DDS.”

In addition to point-by-point arbitrary waveforms, the 33500B Series offers features not normally found on waveform generators in this class:-

Waveform summing and combining capability:
Allows engineers to easily add noise