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Agilent Technologies' New Gain Compression Application Optimizes Accuracy, Speed of Amplifier Test

Dec 11, 2007

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced the availability of a new Gain Compression Application (GCA) for its premier-performance PNA-X network analyzer. Its ability to provide fast, accurate compression data, at multiple frequencies and with a simple setup, makes this new measurement capability ideal for engineers and technicians characterizing, measuring and testing amplifiers during R&D and manufacturing.

Agilent's GCA measurement capability is an option for the PNA-X network analyzer for single-connection active-device measurements from 10 MHz to 26.5 GHz. Providing automated and simple gain compression over a wide power-sweep range, it enables engineers to measure many frequencies easily and with extreme speed and accuracy. Faster data acquisition is possible with fewer sweeps, using just one channel. Additionally, a guided calibration with compression, power and mismatch correction ensures highly accurate results, creates tighter guard bands and enables more accurate system simulations.

Engineers today use various methods to characterize the compression of amplifiers, including the use of a traditional network analyzer with power sweep at a single CW frequency. Unfortunately, this method has inaccuracies such as mismatch errors and, when used to characterize a wide frequency range with many frequency points, can be slow and inconvenient. These slow test times, coupled with the time it takes to set up the measurement process, translates into higher test costs. Agilent's new GCA measurement option for the PNA-X eliminates the problems associated with lengthy test times and inconvenient setups by providing a single connection solution with a unique SMART Sweep capability that is easy-to-use, fast and accurate.

SMART Sweep uses an optimized algorithm to find the desired compression points. Using fewer data points -- selected based on a proprietary algorithm -- it yields a very accurate characterization of the DUT over the desired range. Because this approach is much faster than measuring all the finely spaced points on the power curve that are normally needed for the same level of accuracy, SMART Sweep can significantly reduce the overall test time and improves manufacturing throughput.

The GCA also offers a 2-D sweep capability in which engineers can specify the frequency range, power range, and number of frequency and power points. The GCA gathers the data for the entire range and finds the specified compression point. The 2-D data array can then be saved to an external file. This capability, and the choice of sweep frequency per power or sweep power per frequency, enables complete device characterization.

GCA can provide the user with standard S-parameters at the linear power level and the compression parameters at the compression level. Available compression parameters are input and output power at compression, and gain and phase at compression. Additionally, GCA's compression algorithm is very flexible. It offers engineers the choice of many compression methods, including X/Y compression, compression from back off, compression from linear gain and compression from maximum gain.

U.S. Pricing and Availability

Agilent's new Gain Compression Application, Option 086, for the premier-performance PNA-X network analyzer is available now. Pricing is as follows:

N5242A, PNA-X network analyzer, $92,000

Option 086, Gain Compression Application, $6,800

More information about Agilent's Gain Compression Application is available at A photo of the new measurement capability is available at

About Agilent Technologies

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is the world's premier measurement company and a technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 19,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenues of $5.4 billion in fiscal 2007. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

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