Off-line analysis ideally has a transmitter and receiver, which can only split packets and see what is happening. Mohanram notes, “That is not a complete test that you are doing, because if you are trying to analyse a packet or trying to analyse communication protocol, you would want to do it as a different layer like physical or application layer, for instance. But if you just do splitting then you are not able to completely test the capabilities at every different layer. That drawback can be overcome by taking an analyser that can do in-line processing.”
For almost the same cost that people used to pay for box type analysers, the high-end FPGA-enabled analysers come in really handy. “I would say, at the same cost there is more and more functionality getting packed into these analysers and they are shrinking in size,” says Mohanram.
Using a PC to do the processing work for all manner of test and measurement equipment may not be feasible for the larger manufacturers, but it does serve the user very well. “PC-based processing for test equipment is here to stay,” says Bruce Devine, CEO, Test Equipment Plus, Inc. It puts pricing pressure on the traditional companies that build test equipment with the processor inside their equipment. He adds, “It is now difficult for many companies to justify the expense of buying anything but PC-based test equipment because of the cost savings, upgradability and extensibility of PC-based systems.”
Today’s analysers are a boon for engineers
Design engineers are supposed to spend time on designing their products rather than learning new instruments and spending time debugging instrument related issues. Today’s instruments cater to all the different issues generally faced by these engineers. They are reliable, can be easily automated and can be reused for different platforms. Various software tools support instruments covering different technologies. Thanks to these capabilities, they enable engineers to invest least possible time on measurement, be confident about the measurements and spend more time on designing efficient products.
The author is a senior correspondent at EFY