Technology

USB architecture based new Tektronix RSA306 sets a new price/performance threshold for spectrum analyzers

In an interview with Techspirit, Naresh Narasimhan, Country Marketing Manager of Tektronix said that Tektronix is moving aggressively to address the changing customer requirements across multiple market segments with innovative test and measurement solutions:

TS: How do you foresee the evolution of wireless/ RF Test Equipments Market?

Ans. Products catering to evolving end-user needs win customers’ confidence. Customer’s increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices (mobile phones, tablets, notebooks) results in more complex devices under test (DUT), the need for radio frequency test equipment will only intensify. The best way forward in a competitive market is to offer a balance between price and performance. Modular GP test equipment will be particularly effective in this scenario as they reduce the cost of tests by increasing throughput and scalability, while simultaneously lowering power consumption and space requirements.

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TS: Can you brief us on your product leadership position in wireless test & measurements market?

Ans. Over last 68 years, Tektronix has been a leading supplier of test and measurement products, solutions, and services for a wide range of industries worldwide, including wireless test and measurement market. Based on the evolving technology requirements, the company has developed products that enable customers to design, manufacture, and manage next-generation communication networks and advanced technologies.

Tektronix focuses on a growth strategy that is based on increasing its market share in its core product categories including network monitoring systems, and concentrating on high-growth sectors such as next generation network and RF testing, which have tremendous long-term growth potential.

Based on its recent market analysis of the global wireless network monitoring systems market, Tektronix has established itself as a leader in the global wireless network monitoring systems market with various operations, manufacturing sites, development centers, and distributors strategically located in more than 19 countries worldwide, to support its global customer base.

Currently, we are the only major supplier of test and measurement instrumentation offering a USB spectrum analyzer. Other suppliers do offer a faceless instrument, but still include a PC within the instrument.

We always listen to our customers and industry requirements. If there’s a need of cutting edge test and measurement solutions for path breaking future innovations then we will meet the need as we have been doing it since our inception. With new RSA306 spectrum analyzer we will be meeting growingRF test needs of our customers. From a business perspective, these instruments give us access to a new markets and customers who otherwise could not afford a traditional spectrum analyzer.

TS: How are the market challenges and how Tektronix is feeling these gaps?

Ans. Spectrum analyzers are inherently expensive and often there are not enough instruments for everyone to use in many labs, field organizations and universities.The new Tektronix RSA306 sets a new price/performance threshold for spectrum analyzers and features a broad 9 kHz to 6.2 GHz frequency range, 40 MHz real time bandwidth and weighs in at just 1.2 pounds. When used with Tektronix SignalVu-PC software, it offers advanced analysis capabilities for such applications as budget-conscious research and development, mobile radio network installation, interference hunting and university level lab classes.

The RSA306 puts the power of a Tektronix real-time spectrum analyzer within reach for the entire technical team. In addition, Tektronix is providing its SignalVu-PC software at no cost, giving open access to powerful signal analysis tools that have previously been only available with the purchase of expensive bench instruments.

TS: Can you brief us on your new highly portable RSA306 spectrum analyzer and why customers should adopt this? Why is Tektronix going the USB route for spectrum analyzers?

Ans. Tektronix delivers the signal generation and analysis capabilities required to overcome the most challenging microwave and RF design challenges with confidence. As with nearly all areas of electronics design and test, requirements for RF and microwave test are changing quickly leading to the need for new instrumentation approaches. The introduction of RSA306 demonstrates, Tektronix is moving aggressively to address these changing requirements across multiple market segments with innovative, industry leading test and measurement solutions.

The RSA306 is Tektronix’ first USB spectrum analyzer and will be joined by similar instruments taking advantage of the availability of affordable desktop computers and laptops with sufficient processing power to handle complex test and measurement analysis along with high-speed USB 3.0 interfaces.

At its introductory price point, the RSA306 is a fraction of the cost of a conventional spectrum analyzer while offering comparable or even superior sensitivity, accuracy and dynamic range. There are number of use-cases for spectrum analyzers that are not well-served with traditional instrumentation. In talking to these customers, it was very clear that pricing and portability were important considerations, but they also didn’t want to sacrifice frequency range, sensitivity or analysis functionality. We saw a way to meet these needs with USB instrumentation combined with our SignalVu-PC software. With USB instrumentation we can deliver better pricing and a smaller form factor with performance more than sufficient for most applications today.

The new RSA306 is filling a number of unmet needs or “white space” in the market. In our analysis, a USB-based spectrum analyzer provided to be best way to address these opportunities. We are constantly evaluating changing market needs and will develop the best and most appropriate solution to those needs. We are not in a position to discuss additional opportunities related to other segments at this time.

For users who depend on these physical controls, we are continuing to offer standalone spectrum analyzers, and plan to continue to offer them for the foreseeable future. That said, initial feedback about the usability of the RSA306 has been very positive. Users are able to work in their familiar PC environment and have full access to the controls and settings they need via the SignalVu-PC software.

TS: What’s your strategy for USB instruments?

Ans. The new RSA306 is filling a number of unmet needs or “white space” in the market. In our analysis, a USB-based spectrum analyzer provided to be best way to address these opportunities. We are constantly evaluating changing market needs and will develop the best and most appropriate solution to those needs.

TS: Aren’t you cannibalizing your higher end products and revenue?

Ans. The RSA306 is a new addition to our product line. USB instrumentation isn’t for everyone and we will continue to offer our industry leading standalone real-time spectrum analyzers. Ultimately, it’s up to customers to decide what type of solution works best for their needs. As has been demonstrated many times in consumer and industrial segments, decreasing prices almost always lead to increasing volumes. We expect the same effect here. Lower prices open up new opportunities. For instance, a development lab might decide to give every engineer a personal spectrum analyzer rather than forcing them to share. Or universities might purchase enough RSA306s for an entire class. And since the units are portable, students can even put them in a backpack and conduct experiments at home.

Lastly, given the significant price-performance advantages over offerings from our major competitors,we are well-positioned to disrupt the spectrum analyzer market, further increasing volume. Consider this: if you want 6 GHz frequency range in a spectrum analyzer, you will need give one of our competitors $8,000. We’re offering the same capability for $3,500.

TS: What are the benefits to Tektronix for making an USB Spectrum Analyzer?

Ans. There are numerous benefits to us and our customers. For one, we no longer need to design and build a PC for every instrument. This will greatly accelerate the development time for future products. This means we will be able to increase the speed of innovation, which will help to keep us at the forefront of the industry and to increase the value we can bring to customers. From a business perspective, these instruments give us access to a new markets and customers who otherwise could not afford a traditional spectrum analyzer.

TS: There are very specific PC requirements; doesn’t that impact price for total cost of ownership?

Ans. It’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of engineers and field technicians today already have a suitable PC or laptop available to them. Customers are in fact free to use whatever PC they would like. A new PC that will work satisfactorily can be obtained for about $700 at today’s prices.Plus, when they do buy a new PC, they also enhance the performance of their instruments. PCs continue to get more powerful as time goes on, so the potential need to obtain a suitable PC will be less and less of a concern as time goes on.

TS: Aren’t there inherent performance disadvantages to using a USB-based Spectrum Analyzer?

Ans. In general, there are no disadvantages to using a USB-based analyzer without an integrated PC. In the specific case of the RSA306, the RF performance is limited by the power supplied thought the USB 3.0 connection, and the speed of the USB 3.0 connection limits bandwidth. However, a higher performing USB-based spectrum analyzer could be designed through use of a separate power supply.

The bandwidth limitations can be overcome by using a faster interface than USB 3.0, like USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt, or even multiple connections. One advantage to removing the PC from the instrument is that it frees up test equipment manufacturers to focus on the instrument, and leave building a PC to the PC companies.

TS: Standalone spectrum analyzers have a lot of handy controls like dials and buttons. Won’t usability suffer without these controls?

Ans. For users who depend on these physical controls, we are continuing to offer standalone spectrum analyzers, and plan to continue to offer them for the foreseeable future. That said, initial feedback about the usability of the RSA306 has been very positive. Users are able to work in their familiar PC environment and have full access to the controls and settings they need via the SignalVu- PC software.

TS: What is your focus on portability and pricing?

Ans. The RSA306 is a new addition to our product line. As has been demonstrated many times in consumer and industrial segments, decreasing prices almost always lead to increasing volumes. We expect the same effect here. Lower prices open up new opportunities. For instance, a developmentlab might decide to give every engineer a personal spectrum analyzer rather than forcing them to share. Or universities might purchase enough RSA306s for an entire class. And since the units are portable, students can even put them in a backpack and conduct experiments at home.

Lastly, given the significant price-performance advantages over offerings from our major competitors,we are well-positioned to disrupt the spectrum analyzer market, further increasing volume. Consider this: if you want 6 GHz frequency range in a spectrum analyzer, you will need give one of our competitors $8,000. We’re offering the same capability for INR 2,58,000.00.

TS: What are the best features and applications it will target?

Ans. Spectrum analyzers are inherently expensive and often there are not enough instruments for everyone to use in many labs, field organizations and universities. The RSA306 puts the power of a Tektronix real-time spectrum analyzer within reach for the entire technical team. In addition, Tektronix is providing its SignalVu-PC software at no cost, giving open access to powerful signal analysis tools that have previously been only available with the purchase of expensive bench instruments.

There are numerous benefits to us and our customers. For one, we no longer need to design and build a PC for every instrument. This will greatly accelerate the development time for future products. This means we will be able to increase the speed of innovation, which will help to keep us at the forefront of the industry and to increase the value we can bring to customers. From a business perspective, these instruments give us access.

TS: What about pricing and availability?

Ans. The RSA306 is available now through the global network of Tektronix distributors and partners. The range starts at INR 2,58,000.00.

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