Analyzer recognized  by magazine; pushes  size, power boundaries

[caption id="attachment_17438" align="alignleft" width="375" caption="Agilent Technologies' PNA-X Vector Network Analyzer is winning recognition and swelling revenues."][/caption]

SANTA ROSA –  An advanced measurement platform developed by the Component Test Division at Agilent Technologies in Santa Rosa got a seal of approval from Microwaves and RF magazine, which named it one of the top products of 2009.

The PNA-X platform has already contributed significantly to the Agilent Test and Measurement revenues and will earn a mention in the company's upcoming annual report, said Component Test Division Vice President Greg Peters.

According to Mr. Peters, the network analyzer is so advanced that many engineers have yet to catch on to its capabilities, although that is changing rapidly.

"We've applied Moore's Law in its development: it's faster, smaller, uses less power and offers more measurement options," he said.

What the team at Agilent did is compress electronic measurement components usually located in a 20-inch-by-6-foot rack into a 20-by-7-inch box, and then added more components to increase the instrument's capabilities.

A commercial application of the piece of equipment would be the measurement of cell phone amplifiers.

"It's hard to design an amplifier that will work reliably between a base station and wherever the phone might be in a car or on a metal table, for example," said Mr. Peters. "Sellers of amplifiers have to characterize to phone manufacturers the instances in which their products can perform. Our platform gives them an edge over their competition."

For the aerospace and defense Industry, the platform measures radar transmission and reception, among other applications.

"We give them more measurement capability in a smaller unit, freeing component engineers from taking the time to develop their own network analyzers and validate the measurements," said Mr. Peters.

The Agilent units can cost anywhere from $80,000 to $400,000, "putting us in the Maserati category of test instruments," he said.

Two competitors, Anritsu in Morgan Hill and Rodhe & Schwarz in Munich, make similar boxes, but without the range of capabilities gathered into Agilent's, Mr. Peters believes.

"The level of integration achieved by our team of globally recognized engineers is hard to duplicate," he said.

Orders for the device have already outpaced Agilent's forecasts, "and they were high," he said.

In addition to its award from industry magazine Microwaves and RF, the device will be featured in Agilent's annual report, another feather in the cap of the Test and Measurement Group in Santa Rosa.