Agilent Signal Generators – Arbitrary Waveform Generators
A function generator is usually a piece of electronic test equipment or software used to generate different types of electrical waveforms over a wide range of frequencies. Some of the most common waveforms produced by the function generator are the sine, square, triangular and sawtooth shapes. These waveforms can be either repetitive or single-shot (which requires an internal or external trigger source).
Digital pattern generators are sometimes referred to as ‘pulse generator’ or ‘pulse pattern generator’ which may be able to function as digital pattern generators as well. Hence, the distinction between the two types of equipment may not be clear. A digital pattern generator is a source of synchronous digital stimulus; the generated signal is interesting for testing digital electronics at logic level – this is why they are also called ‘logic source’. A pulse generator is of purpose to generate electrical pulse of different shapes; they are mostly used for tests at an electrical or analog level. Another common name for such equipment is ‘digital logic source’ or ‘logic source’
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Arbitrary Waveform Generators
An arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) is a piece of electronic test equipment used to generate electrical waveforms. These waveforms can be either repetitive or single-shot (once only) in which case some kind of triggering source is required (internal or external). The resulting waveforms can be injected into a device under test and analyzed as they progress through it, confirming the proper operation of the device or pinpointing a fault in it.
Unlike function generators, AWGs can generate any arbitrarily defined waveshape as their output. The waveform is usually defined as a series of “waypoints” (specific voltage targets occurring at specific times along the waveform) and the AWG can either jump to those levels or use any of several methods to interpolate between those levels.
Analog signal generators based on a sinewave oscillator were common before the inception of digital electronics, and are still used. There was a sharp distinction in purpose and design of radio-frequency and audio-frequency signal generators.
RF signal generators are available as benchtop instruments, rackmount instruments, embeddable modules and in card-level formats. Mobile, field-testing and airborne applications benefit from lighter, battery-operated platforms. In automated and production testing, web-browser access, which allows multi-source control, and faster frequency switching speeds improve test times and throughput.