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Test and Measurement: NI joins OpenRF

NI announced this week that it’s joining OpenRF, a group of chipmakers and other ecosystem players that want to see an “open and interoperable ecosystem” between chipsets and the radio-frequency front end (RFFE).

OpenRF was founded in October 2020 by Broadcom, Intel, Mediatek, Samsung, Quorvo, Murata and Skyworks. Other chip vendors — notably, Qualcomm — have taken a development path that emphasizes the value of chipset integration with the RF front end, particularly in light of increasing RF system complexity. Qualcomm’s RFFE line of business saw 60% year-over-year growth in 2020.

NI will lead OpenRF’s Compliance Working Group. Kevin Schoenrock, president of OpenRF, said that the test company’s expertise “will be an invaluable asset to the organization as we embark on developing a
robust compliance program improving the cost, efficiency and time-to-market of OEM wireless devices.”

In addition to gaining NI as a member, OpenRF recently signed an agreement with MIPI Alliance that will allow the two organizations to work together on projects related to RF front-end architecture, design, and technology. MIPI Alliance focuses on simplifying integration of components via standardizing hardware and software interfaces, and Schoenrock said that its RFFESM specification has “become the de facto interface” for control of the RF front end and will serve as a key component of OpenRF’s templates for register maps that will “maximize configurability and effectiveness of the RF front end.”

“This liaison agreement between MIPI Alliance and OpenRF facilitates collaboration that will benefit the entire industry,” said Peter Lefkin, managing director of MIPI Alliance, in a statement. “We’re looking forward to working with OpenRF to extend and enhance the ecosystem that has developed around MIPI RFFE, especially to support the growing implementation of 5G applications around the world.”

In other test news:

Viavi Solutions has bolstered its fiber-testing portfolio with some new additions: New optical power meters, fiber characterization modules, and an enhanced Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) solution. The OTDR 2.0 was redesigned to deliver faster and more reliable measurements and a better user experience, including a touch-gesture interface and guided, automated workflows to simplify operation. Viavi also added to its SmartPocket line with SmartPocket V2 optical power meters, light sources and loss test kits, which it says can help improve network technicians’ speed and accuracy in their deployment work.

“Service providers are under pressure to increase their fiber footprint, completing massive deployments – to homes, businesses, data centers and 5G cell sites – while striving to maintain quality of experience and reduce operational expenses,” said Koji Okamoto, VP of Viavi’s fiber and access business. “The ability to capture faster, more reliable fiber test measurements with simple to use, automated solutions means that service providers can reduce contractor costs without sacrificing deployment pace or quality of experience, improving performance and operational efficiency for the life of the network.”

Keysight Technologies has launched a portfolio of four lab bench instruments that use a single graphical interface for data management and analysis, aimed at academia, general test labs and small manufacturing businesses. The Smart Bench Essentials solutions include a triple-output power supply, an arbitrary function generator, a digital multimeter and an oscilloscope. Keysight described the tools as “reliable and capable instruments developed for the design and test of products in manufacturing and R&D” with a compact and stackable design.

Keysight also said this week that its M8040A 64 Gbaud high-performance bit error ratio tester (BERT) was approved by the PCI-Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) as a compliance test measuring instrument for PCI Express 4.0 testing at 16 gigatransfers per second (GT/s) and 8 GT/s. Keysight says it is the only test vendor with two BERT systems that have been approved by PCI-SIG for testing PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 technologies.

“PCI Express based I/O technology is expected to set the lead for high-performance I/O interfaces including accelerator interconnects like Compute Express Link,” said Jim Pappas, director of technology initiatives at Intel, in a statement on the approval. “Receiver and transmitter test solutions from companies including Keysight Technologies are critical to enabling the development, deployment and adoption of high performance I/O technologies on future Intel platforms and throughout the industry.”

-In related news, Synopsys said this week that it is offering the first complete IP solution for the PCIe 6.0 technology — including controller, PHY and verification IP, enabling early development of system-on-chip designs for PCIe 6.0.



Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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