Thursday, August 12, 2010

Waveform Sequencing Capability is now in the GP Realm

As Moore’s law continues to chug along FPGAs, memory, ASICs, and the like continue to get faster and cheaper. This has led to a steady trickle down affect of features, speeds, and specifications that in the past were only found in high price instrumentation move into general purpose (GP) instrumentation. One recent example being waveform sequencing capability. Waveform sequencing is the ability to seamlessly transition (no discontinuities in the output) from one waveform in memory to another waveform somewhere else in memory. Waveform sequencing allows you to create complex easily reconfigurable waveforms by pasting together other simpler waveforms in memory. It is analogous to creating a custom playlist on your MP3 player. Some of Agilent’s recent product releases that provide waveform sequencing capability include the N6705A DC Power Analyzer (see image) and the just released 33521A and 33522A 30 MHz function / arbitrary waveform generators. The N6705A has a high power current or voltage arbitrary waveform generator in it with waveform sequencing capability. The 33521A and 33522A sequencing ability allow you to transition from one waveform to another using either cycle counts or triggers. For example let’s say I have waveform A, B, and C stored in my 33521A’s memory. I could create a complex waveform using a sequence that repeated waveform A 27 times, then runs waveform B continuously until a trigger is received, and then runs waveform C 2 times. Below is a link to a video staring yours truly that demonstrates the waveform sequencing capability of the 33521A and 33522A.

33521A and 33522A Sequencing Demo