This section provides an overview for network analyzers as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 14 network analyzer manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked network analyzer companies as of June, 2023: 1.Anritsu, 2.National Instruments (NI), 3.RIGOL Technologies Co., Ltd..
Table of Contents
A network analyzer is a test instrument that evaluates the network characteristics of a device under test (DUT). This is done by measuring certain key S-parameters on multi-port networks.
Specifically, it can measure the attenuation and impedance of the input signal to the DUT. In particular, it can evaluate the high-frequency characteristics of electronic components, etc., and has a wide range of applications, including the ability to perform measurements on transmission devices. Such measurements can be conducted on microwave systems, common WIFI networks, corporate networks, basic computer-to-computer connections, and even on large-scale cell phone networks.
The output of a network analyzer is represented by the S-parameter (scattering parameter), which defines the physical quantities known as forward reflection (S11), forward transmission (S21), reverse transmission (S12), and reverse reflection (S22). This is typically the case with a 2-port network, but the devices or connections being tested may have more than 2 ports. Whatever the network situation, the correct Network Analyzer must be chosen to match the number of ports present. This is a basic premise but an important one if the reflection and loss parameters are to be accurately calculated.
Network analyzers are broadly classified into scalar network analyzers and vector network analyzers (VNA), of which vector network analyzers (VNA), which provide not only amplitude information but also phase information, have a wider range of uses.
The advantages of network analyzers for high-frequency applications are used in the development of matching circuits for high-frequency amplifiers. Here, the design is based on accurate S-parameters for each amplifier, antenna, and/or filter.
In many cases, a network analyzer is also used to evaluate impedance matching. This is because impedance mismatch in transmission lines of each device or cable in a high frequency handling circuit network can cause power loss or signal distortion.
A network analyzer is equipped with a signal source, a signal separator, a directional coupler, and at least three receivers.
The output of the DUT is measured at a third receiver (transmission signal B). Evaluation is performed by comparing the signals (e.g., S11 is defined by A/R and S21 by B/R).
Accurate measurement of the network analyzer is ensured by precise calibration. For calibration, a standard device with known characteristics is used. A commonly used calibration method is the SOLT method, in which a short-circuit, open-circuit, and the load-capable standard is coupled to a reference plane in a direct connection (thru).
Since this is a very precise measurement, care must be taken to avoid measurement errors in various aspects such as connector tightening torque, ambient temperature, input signal, cable stability, etc.
There are two types of network analyzers: vector network analyzers (VNA) and scalar network analyzers. Vector network analyzers are widely used these days.
Network analyzers have a method of measuring amplitude changes in transmission and reflection measurements called S-parameters. S-parameters are also called S-matrices, and there is a numbering system for their definition. The numbering scheme is "Sij i=output port, j=input port," where S11 represents the coefficient of a signal incident at port 1 that has been transmitted to port 1, S12 represents the coefficient of a signal incident at port 2 that is transmitted to port 1.
The S parameter can be measured by using a VNA measuring instrument. However, the VNA must be calibrated using several calibration methods before measurement.
The basic method of VNA calibration is to use three standard instruments. Widely known calibration methods include the SOLT calibration method, the UnKnown Thru calibration method, and the TRL calibration method described above.
Impedance is an important parameter used to characterize electronic circuits, electronic components, and electronic materials. It is the amount of opposition to an alternating current (AC) that interrupts a circuit or other device at a certain frequency. There are various types of impedance measurement methods, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
The measurement method must be selected in consideration of the frequency range required for the measurement and the resistance and reactance conditions of the impedance measurement range. Measurement methods include the bridge method, resonance method, I-V method, network analysis method, time domain network analysis method, and automatic balanced bridge method.
The bridge method is explained as an example. The advantages of the bridge method are its high accuracy (around 0.1%), its ability to cover a wide frequency range with multiple measuring instruments, and its low cost. On the other hand, one demerit of the bridge method is that it requires a balance operation, and a single unit can cover only a narrow range of frequencies. The bridge method's measurement frequency range is approximately 300-MHz DC.
The maximum frequency extension of network analyzers now extends into the sub-THz band (220 GHz). This is because it is predicted that the next generation communication standard, 6G, will most likely use the 140 GHz band, known as the D-band.
However, because of its high frequency, the sub-THz band is susceptible to electrical length errors, parasitic elements, and other measurement discontinuities, making total calibration accuracy, including that of the RF probe tips and cables, extremely important.
In reality, the frequency range that can be calibrated at one time is often limited, and manufacturers are competing to develop easy-to-use measuring instruments, including the handling of data between calibrations and the addition of frequency extenders dedicated to the millimeter wave band.
Generally speaking, Network analyzers are used to evaluate the impedance of DUTs and S-parameters, which are small signals. Therefore, models that enable network analyzers to perform modulation analysis, which is mainly handled by conventional spectrum analyzers, are gradually being released. With wireless technologies on the increase, the ability to examine complex RF (Radio Frequency) bands is an essential feature, one worth integrating into a Network Analyzer.
In the future, network analyzers will be used not only for impedance and S-parameter evaluation but also for evaluating switches, filters, high-frequency (RF) amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers (LNA), and other RF front ends, including large-signal analysis and modulation analysis.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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Founded in 1976 and headquartered in Austin, TX, National Instruments Corporation provides a software-centric platform and systems to engineers and scientists worldwide. NI’s software is used for automated test and measurement applications in manufacturing environment for configuring real-time testing application, sensor configuration and data logging of mixed signals, and monitoring ancillary rotating equipment. NI’s software also enables the mass coordination of connected devices, software deployments, and data communications throughout distributed systems. Recently, NI has begun to develop test systems and solutions for autonomous driving software and hardware validation.
Spanawave is a manufacturer of radio frequency and microwave solutions for the Test and Measurement needs of Military, Aerospace, Telecom, Industrial, and Scientific Research organizations. The company was founded in 2002 and is based in Roseville, California, with manufacturing facilities in San Ramon, CA. Their products are: various of RF and IF, Assemblies, Transceivers, Test & Measurement Microwave Components, and Test Fixtures from DC to 26GHz. Spanawave also produces the whole line of: Giga-tronics Microwave Power Amplifiers, Power Meters, Sensors, and Network Measurement equipment after purchasing Giga-tronics' Test and Measurement product line.
Keysight Technologies, Inc. was founded in 1939 and headquartered in Santa Rosa, California. Keysight is a global developer and manufacturer of electronic design and test solutions to communications, networking, aerospace, defense, and government, automotive, energy, semiconductor, electronic, and education industries. Keysight’s communications solutions group solutions include electronic design automation software; radio frequency and microwave test solutions, hardware and virtual network test platforms and software applications, as well as optical laser source solutions. Keysight’s electronic industrial solutions group offers various design tools and verification tools. Keysight offers product support, technical support, and training and consulting services. It sells its products through direct sales force, distributors, resellers, and manufacturer's representatives.
Copper Mountain Technologies designs and manufactures equipment for Radio Frequency testing and measuring solution devices for engineers universally. The Organization was incorporated in Indianapolis, USA with offices and service centres located around the globe. The company has an international client base in around hundred countries with more than thousands of customers.They primarily supply vector network analysers for their clients.Their Vector Network Analysers include a Radio Frequency measurement module and a software application which can be used in an external personal computer, laptop or tablet and connects to the measurement hardware via USB interface.
Calnex Solutions (based Linlithgow, Scotland) founded in 2006, develops, manufactures, and sells test equipment and solutions for network synchronization and network emulation, allowing customers to verify the functionality of the vital telecom network infrastructure. The company, with sales staff in China and India and global partners, provides a worldwide distribution capacity from over 600 customer sites in 68 countries. They supply laboratories, network infrastructure, and telecom network operators and providers worldwide. They received the "Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade" and "Exporter of the Year."
Ranking as of June 2023 in United States of AmericaDerivation Method
|2||National Instruments (NI)||18.8%|
|3||RIGOL Technologies Co., Ltd.||8.8%|
|9||Digital Signal Technology (DST)||3.8%|
|10||Softing Industrial Automation||2.5%|
|11||Copper Mountain Technologies||2.5%|
Ranking as of June 2023 GloballyDerivation Method
|2||National Instruments (NI)||15.8%|
|3||RIGOL Technologies Co., Ltd.||8.9%|
|5||Digital Signal Technology (DST)||5%|
|9||Copper Mountain Technologies||4%|
|12||Softing Industrial Automation||3%|
Derivation MethodThe ranking is calculated based on the click share within the network analyzer page as of June 2023. Click share is defined as the total number of clicks for all companies during the period divided by the number of clicks for each company.
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