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T&M double take!

Agilent has simplified its signal analysis proposition, with a message to customers to ‘pay for what you use’.

There’s a number of characteristics that make Agilent’s release of its EXA signal analyser stand out. Firstly, those familiar with Agilent’s signal analysis offering would be forgiven for doing a double take as, in its look, feel and key areas of performance, the EXA (pictured above) is exactly the same as the high speed MXA, launched nine months earlier.
Echoing the strategy of some of Agilent’s best customers in the mobile phone market, Phil Lorch, marketing manager for emerging communications and cellular applications within Agilent’s signal analysis division, says that the ‘X’ family is an example of the platform based approach. With Agilent currently investing heavily in signal analysis, he says this approach is resulting in an unprecedented number of new products in a timeframe that, again, mirrors those of its customers.
The EXA is an economy class instrument with a ticket price 30% less than that of its older sibling. But it has exactly the same measurement speed, application coverage and user interface as the MXA. Says Lorch: “The backend processing, operating software and cpu are identical. It is in the rf area that the difference lies.” The EXA supports frequency ranges from 9kHz to 3.6, 7.0, 13.6 and 26.5GHz, with an internal preamplifier option up to 3.6GHz, and standard analysis bandwidths of 10MHz. The MXA, meanwhile, supports 20Hz to 3.6, 8.4, 13.6 and 26.5GHz and has internal preamplifiers up to 26.5GHz and analysis bandwidths of 10MHz or 25MHz.
Adds Guy Sene, general manager of Agilent’s signal sources division: “Among our design goals for the ‘X’ family are to provide scaleability in performance and price. It’s about meeting the needs of customers that just want to pay for what they use today but are able to quickly expand for new technologies tomorrow.”
A key driver for such scaleability is the trend for design engineer’s and manufacturing test engineer’s needs to merge. With the EXA, Agilent is responding to a demand it sees for correlation of measurement between instruments used for R&D and those used in manufacture. Sene forsees customers of the EXA being ‘medium sized companies that are using it across R&D and manufacture, leveraging code compatibility from one environment to the other’. For more cutting edge applications, he envisages a design team would use the MXA and the manufacturing team, the EXA.
The good news is that some very sophisticated measurement capability is swiftly being transposed to the lower end of the budget scale. EXA customers will, for example, be able to use of Agilent’s 89600 vector signal analysis software, creating a software defined receiver that allows customers to take some 50 demodulation measurements and which provides a troubleshooting resource for the key rf transmission technologies.

Vanessa Knivett

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