by Joe Rickert, Vice President, Radio Frequency R&D and Product Management, Keysight Technologies
MPD: Please describe what you consider to be your company’s most significant technological achievements in 2022.
The new M9384C VXG signal generator is Keysight’s most significant hardware technological achievement in 2022. It is the culmination of deep development from our research laboratory and solution designers.
The new proprietary ASIC in the VXG provides powerful digital signal processing (DSP) for digital upconversion to generate RF signals directly. The direct digital synthesis (DDS) eliminates signal impairments caused by an analog I/Q modulator, such as gain imbalance.
We have also developed new measurement techniques to address early work in 6G, allowing for accurate testing of components under wideband modulated signals with up to 40 GHz of bandwidth and to a carrier frequency of 330 GHz. These techniques leverage Keysight’s performance vector network analyzers (VNAs) as well as our PathWave Vector Signal Analysis software.
MPD: Many technologies are driving RF and microwave technologies today. Which ones do you feel are the most important as it concerns your company’s work?
One of the key technologies influencing the way we define new test and measurement solutions is millimeter-wave beamforming. The final device under test is often an active array in which beamformer ICs are integrated with an antenna array, requiring complex over the air (OTA) testing. This requires more complex test solutions that coordinate DUT-specific control with RF parametric testing.
Another key trend is the digital twin, as system designers strive to accurately predict complex network performance in simulation. These simulations need to account not only for RF and digital baseband hardware, but also the environment including channel modeling, user mobility, and varying meteorological conditions.
MPD: How is your company preparing for 5G Advanced with 3GPP Release 18?
Keysight is actively participating in the 3GPP to help define test methodologies. One example of this is the study item on artificial intelligence and machine learning in Release 18 for the 5G New Radio (NR) air interface. Specifically, Keysight is actively contributing to the requirements and testing frameworks to validate AI/ML-based performance enhancement.
Another focus of Release 18 is network energy savings as network providers are large consumers of electricity. The first step to improving device energy efficiency is being able to accurately measure it. We are also actively contributing to the 5G Security Assurance Specification (SCAS).
MPD: Technology appears to have advanced to the point where millimeter-wave deployment on a wide scale is possible. What is your perspective on this?
While millimeter-wave technology has made foundational strides, there are still significant technological and economic hurdles that must be overcome before its wide-scale deployment. The most obvious of these is cost because adding millimeter-wave capabilities to user equipment is still ten times that of adding a new sub-6 GHz band. For broad adoption in mobile applications, power consumption must be significantly improved.
However, for fixed wireless access applications, millimeter-wave deployment is looking very promising. This eliminates issues with user mobility that are being addressed in Release 18. Nevertheless, the supporting backhaul infrastructure needs to be in place to fully realize the potential of millimeter-wave communications.