Modular Digitizers, Arbitrary Waveform Generators (AWG's) and pattern generators are rapidly becoming instruments of choice for the automated testing systems used for semiconductor device characterization. Small and compact these multi-channel products are available from Spectrum in a variety of popular standards including PCI, PCIe, PXI, cPCI and LXI. They offer bandwidths from 50 kHz to 1.5 GHz, sampling rates from 100 KS/s to 5 GS/s, and resolution from 8 up to 16 bits. To enable easy integration into ATE systems Spectrum includes software and instrumentation drivers that work with 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows and Linux. Programming of the cards is possible using a wide range of languages such as LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, C++, MatLab, Borland Delphi, Visual Basic, VB.NET, C#, J# and IVI.
For applications demanding large dynamic range and maximum sensitivity high-resolution 14 and 16 bit digitizers are available that allow the capture and analysis of signals that go as high as 250 MHz in frequency. These high-resolution products deliver outstanding signal-to-noise ratio's (up to 72 dB) and spurious free dynamic range (of up to 90 dB) so that small signal variations can be detected and analyzed. For measurements on even higher frequency signals digitizers with sampling rates up to 5 GS/s and bandwidth over 1.5 GHz make it possible to capture fast pulses and edges down into the nano and sub-nanosecond ranges. To match the wide range of signals found in semiconductor testing Spectrum digitizers also include flexible front-end signal conditioning circuits. Computer control makes it easy to adjust key parameters such as input gain and offset or select the desired coupling and termination.
The digitizers are also equipped with ultra-fast trigger circuits, complete with trigger time stamping, so that the dead-time between acquisitions can be extremely small (down to as little as 16 ns). Together with large on-board memories (up to 4 Gsamples/card) and advanced streaming and readout modes this makes the digitizers suited to applications where long and complex signals need to be captured and analyzed. Data can be stored in the on-board memory or streamed in FIFO mode over a fast bus like PCIe to a PC. To help with data analysis and data reduction Spectrum's M4i series of digitizers also feature on-board FPGA based processing functions that can be perform on-the-fly Averaging and Peak Detection routines.
Digitizer cards can have from one to sixteen channels (up to four channels for AWG's) and the cards can be linked together with Spectrum's StarHub system to create instruments with hundreds of fully synchronous channels. The cards also offer additional analog and digital I/O capabilities as well as advanced triggering and clock options so that they can work together with a host of different test instruments making them perfect for high-density multi-channel applications.
For systems where remote monitoring and control is mandatory it's also possible to use Spectrum's digitizerNETBOX series of fully LXI compliant digitizers. The digitizerNETBOX products use Ethernet to connect to a PC or anywhere in a company LAN.
Spectrum AWG's and pattern generators can also be used to create the variety of analog and digital test signals that are typically needed to stimulate a device under test. High resolution 14 bit AWG's, clocked at 125 MS/s, allow the generation of high-purity wide dynamic range analog waveforms while digital acquisition and generation cards can be deployed whenever a high number of digital channels (up to 64 channels per card) are needed.
Typical applications in semiconductor testing include mixed signal measurements, amplifier testing, micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) devices, radio frequency IC's (RFIC's), power management IC's and components.
Matching Card Families
RF Measurements Using a Modular Digitizer
Modern modular digitizers, like the Spectrum M4i series PCIe digitizers, offer greater bandwidth and higher resolution at any given bandwidth than ever before. Although they are in the class of general purpose measuring instruments they are capable of many RF and lower microwave frequency measurements. This article focuses on some examples of common RF measurements that can be performed with these modular digitizers.
HybridNETBOX Source Responce Testing
In the world of electronic testing there are two classes of testing. Self-excited electronic devices such as power supplies, oscillators, transmitters, and signal generators are tested using data acquisition type instruments like digitizers, oscilloscope, or spectrum analyzers. The second class of testing involves testing devices like amplifiers, filters, receivers, and digital interfaces that must be externally excited by a signal source before the signal acquisition instruments can be used. This class of test is called source-response testing.
Signal Processing for Digitizers
Modular digitizers allow accurate, high resolution data acquisition that can be quickly transferred to a host computer. Signal processing functions, applied in the digitizer or in the host computer, permit the enhancement of the acquired data or the extraction of extremely useful information from a simple measurement.
Testing embedded microcontrollers using multiple types of modular instruments
Embedded systems, used in applications ranging from toys to advanced aircraft, use microcontrollers to execute specialized operations within a more complex system. Most microcontrollers are mixed signal devices using a combination of analog and digital signals. These embedded controllers need to communicate with other system components using complex serial interfaces and protocols that, while commonplace, can be difficult to verify and troubleshoot.
Application examples for the ultrafast digitizers of the M5i.33xx series
The five models of the M5i.33xx-x16 digitizer series, with 10 GS/s maximum sampling rate, over 3 GHz bandwidth and 12 bit resolution, are well matched to a broad range of RF and high-speed digital applications. This application notes describes three different examples: measuring of RADAR pusles, Analyzing quadrature-modulated communication-signals and Analysing DDR 2 memory data signals
Research into potential Semiconductor Materials
At the Department of Physics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in Germany, research into the properties of potential semiconductor materials is being made using Spectrum Instrumentation M4i.6622-x8 625 MS/s, 16-bit AWG, M4i.4411-x8 130 MS/s, 16-bit Digitizer and M2p.5913-x4 Digitizer cards. A thesis paper that discusses using unconventional tuning parameters of low temperature transport at strontium titanate interfaces can be found here:Thesis Paper
Transient Thermal Characteristics of SiC Power
The Division of Electrical, Electronic and Infocommunications Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, at Osaka University in Japan studies transient thermal characteristics of power modules with the aim to maximize the capability of SiC power semiconductor devices. A white paper discusses the work. A key feature is the use of an M2p.5933-x4 40 Ms/s, 16-bit, PCIe Digitizer card. Numerical calculations show that high-speed sampling and high resolution in measuring the time response of the junction temperature improves the
accuracy in identifying the transient thermal network model
Deep Neural Networks
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, they are studying ways to enable computing on a new generation of edge devices with speeds comparable to modern digital electronics and power consumption that is orders of magnitude lower. A paper that discusses advances in deep neural networks (DNNs) is linked below. It outlines the experimental setup, which includes the use of two M2p.5943-x4 80 MS/s, 16-bit Digitizers to make a 16-channel acquisition system for collecting photodiode signals.White Paper
Imaging of tiny Currents in Bilayer Graphene
At the Department of Physics, ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, they are creating images of microampere currents in bilayer graphene using a scanning diamond magnetometer. Research papers, which includes experiments that demonstrate the feasibility for imaging subtle features of nanoscale transport in two-dimensional materials and conductors, can be found here and here. The system is using a DN2.663-04 1.25 GS/s, 16-bit AWG as a signal source to generate all the necessary analog and digital control signalsResearch Paper