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53 No. 3 March 2010

S-Functions, Poly-
harmonic Distortion
Models, Waveform
Engineering, Hot S-22,
NonLin-S, Active Harmonic
Load Pull, NVNA, OpenWave Forum. MVP
Nonlinear Device Characterization
is heating up and everyone from test equipment Elektrobit
manufacturers to software developers are involved. MIMO-OTA
Founded in 1958
Will their efforts transform the microwave component industry? Emulation
Cover Feature

Fundamentally Changing
Nonlinear Microwave
Nonlinear: Of or relating to a device whose behavior is described by a set of
nonlinear equations and whose output is not proportional to its input.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

-parameters have been used to represent Why Change is Happening
linear networks for simulation and design Nonlinear devices perform critical functions
since the 1960s. Measuring S-parameters from frequency conversion to signal amplifica-
was made possible with the introduction of the tion. Under large-signal drive conditions, they
network analyzer. Designers could then inte- distort waveforms (time domain) or generate
grate S-parameter black-boxes along with harmonics, inter-modulation and spectral re-

other electrical components using linear fre- growth (frequency domain). Sometimes the
quency-domain simulators. The measure, mod- behavior is exploited, as in the case of a mixer
el and simulate triumvirate has proven quite or frequency doubler; sometimes it must be
successful for high frequency electronic design managed, as in the case of a linear amplifier.
of linear devices. Unfortunately, the nonlinear Market demands for more bandwidth
behavior of high-frequency semiconductor de- driven by the explosive growth of social media
vices cannot be represented by S-parameters. and smart phonesalong with the desire to
Nonlinear device characterization has always reduce telecommunications carbon footprint
been challenging and limited. To better serve is forcing our industry to deliver products that
designers, test equipment manufacturers, soft- are more linear (to increase capacity) and ef-

S-Functions, Poly-
ware providers and integrated device manu- ficient (to lower power consumption). As these
facturers would like to offer similar black-box demands become more stringent, the indus-
characterization for nonlinear devices. try faces an inflection point as to how to reach
Over the past two decades, developments in these goals. What is the most efficient way to
nonlinear measurement, modeling and simula- capture, portray and address nonlinear behav-
tion have been introduced in literature. This ior in the design process?
past year, Microwave Journal and others have

harmonic Distortion
published numerous articles describing prod- Representing Nonlinear Devices
ucts based on these efforts. In this article, we Microwave electronics are developed
take a glimpse at the history of development, through a variety of custom modeling/design
what is currently available, and how the future
of nonlinear characterization/simulation and
David Vye

Models, Waveform
the microwave electronics industry are inter-
twined. Editor, Microwave Journal


Cover Feature
methods. Currently, the more com- systems makes additional tests a vi- ments is that they do not simply scale
mon approaches include: able solution for a reasonable num- with the stimulus. Unlike the micro-
1. Empirical and Physics-based ber of operating variables. As a direct wave network analyzer, which mea-
compact models such as Materka, design tool, active harmonic load-pull sures the ratio between the stimulus
Curtice Cubic, or Gummel-Poon use systems can overcome losses between and the response in order to charac-
physical knowledge of the device and the load and device and provide inde- terize the linear DUT, a large-signal
an array of measured data such as S- pendent control of impedance values VNA must measure absolute values
parameters and current-voltage (I/V) at harmonic frequencies in order to in order to fully represent nonlinear
data (DC and pulsed). Model pa- achieve optimum device performance DUT behavior. The response is of-
rameters are empirically adjusted to in the lab. Furthermore, load-pull ten at a different frequency than the
fit this measured data, extracting the plays an important role in the efforts stimulus.
model parameter values that replicate to develop the measurement-based Measured nonlinear behavior can
the device response to given stimuli. A black-box models described below. be expressed by a series of equations
data file of these parameters is gener- 3. Lastly, designers may use a hy- in time or frequency domain using
ated by the modeling team and deliv- brid of S-parameters, load-pull and voltages/currents or waves. The volt-
ered to the designer for use with the behavioral models based on nonlinear age-current or wave combination at
appropriate circuit simulation model. FOMs such as conversion gain, satu- all ports define the state of the device
The extracted compact model aims to rated power, the 1 dB compression in a unique way. If one performed an
provide a reasonably accurate repre- point, two-tone third-order intercept infinite number of measurements by
sentation of the device, which is scal- point, etc. This method is most com- changing the environment (i.e. power
able (i.e. transistor size/gate periph- mon in system development where levels, biases, load impedances, etc.),
ery) and applicable for the intended block integration is the main focus the resulting infinite table of realiza-
operating range. and critical impedance matching will tions would describe this device com-
New transistor technologies and occur at the circuit level using one of pletely. Clearly, this is not an option.
demand for greater accuracy leads to the approaches mentioned previously. However, performing a limited set of
an increase in device and model com- Nonlinear behavioral models do experiments, which then can be inter-
plexity, driving the need for enhanced have some noteworthy limitations. polated with confidence, is practical.
characterization techniques and spe- For instance, they only work in the Such a model would be valid within
cialized test equipment. New model forward direction, might only assume a well defined set of operating condi-
development can take years and often a single tone input, and may not ac- tions, including the excitation signals.1
requires the skills of PhD level tech- count for impedance mismatch at the This measurement based black-box
nologists. Their expertise is needed device ports. This leads to unaccept- would offer certain benefits over the
to ensure that the model adequately able simulation errors when cascad- compact model, load-pull or FOM be-
predicts behavior for the intended ap- ing nonlinear devices, like mixers and havioral models. Such a model could
plication and that the measurement amplifiers. In addition, these behav- accurately replicate the signal distor-
system itself does not introduce er- ioral models require multiple instru- tion currently addressed by compact
rors. Good models are expensive to ments and configurations to obtain models, without the intensive extrac-
develop, contain sensitive device in- the various FOMs that define them. tion process. It would only require
formation and are often proprietary. To streamline the design process, a that the black-box was obtained with
Such models do not address larger measurement-based nonlinear behav- a measurement system under similar
networks, such as an RFIC function- ioral model would have to overcome conditions as the intended applica-
al block. For that, a detailed circuit these FOM behavioral model inaccu- tion, calling for closer collaboration
block or behavioral model is needed. racies. It would also need to be easily between characterization and design.
2. Load-pull measures figures of extracted from a single measurement
merits (FOM) such as output power system developed to generate such a Early Nonlinear Efforts
or power-added efficiency versus the model for the intended software simu- Hewlett-Packard (now Agilent) be-
load or source impedance. The data lation environment. gan research in nonlinear modeling
is collated into constant performance Due to the complexity, lead time and measurement technology back in
contours on a Smith chart, providing and cost of developing a compact the 90s. In 1990, the company started
the impedance target for a matching model, the limited information offered a small research group called the HP
structure. Since no device model is by load-pull and FOM black-boxes, - Network Measurement and De-
developed, sensitive device informa- technologists have been pursuing an scription Groupor HP-NMDG. The
tion is protected and parameter ex- alternative that is easier to implement, group, which included J. Verspecht,
traction is no longer required. While sufficiently generalized and provides E. Van Damme, F. Verbeyst and M.
easier to obtain than compact models, reliable accuracy. The effort to develop Vanden Bossche (who was finishing
load-pull information limits the un- measurement-based nonlinear black- his PhD thesis on Measuring Non-
derstanding of device performance to boxes, similar to S-parameters, dates linear Systems: A Black-box Approach
specific metrics, test conditions and back to the late 1980s and early 90s. for Instrument Implementation with
device criteria (gate periphery, bias, sponsorship from HP), was tasked
packaging). A change to any of these The Challenge of Nonlinear with developing a nonlinear network
invalidates the load-pull information. Characterization measurement system (NNMS). Initial
Fortunately, automation in load-pull A key issue for nonlinear measure- efforts were on extending S-parame-
Cover Feature
These efforts signal state. These small perturbation
ultimately led to tones are injected at ALL the termi-
A1m the Poly-harmonic nals of the device in turn and at each
Distortion (PHD) harmonic of the fundamental drive.
modeling approach, The harmonic superposition principle
which is the basis asserts that the magnitude of the small
B2k for todays com- test signals is such that the perturba-
B1k mercial nonlinear tion can be viewed as a linear process
measurements, analogous to mixer theory whereby
B1k = F1k (A11, A12,, A21, A22,) modeling and simu- only the LO signal is large enough to
B2k = F2k (A11, A12,, A21, A22,)
lation. In June 2003 bring a nonlinear device into a time
s Fig. 1 The concept of describing functions. 5 Marc Vanden Boss- dependent linear operating mode.
che would leave By introducing a complex phase
HP/Agilent and reference point (2) set by the phase of
created a separate company, Net- the large-signal A11, the spectral map-
work Measurement and Description ping function of (1) can be re-written
Group (NMDG). NMDG continued as (3) so that the mapping between in-
developing a software architecture put and output is time invariant.
B2 and framework called the Integrated
Component Characterization Envi- P = e+ j( A11 ) (2)
s Fig. 2 The harmonic superposition ronment (ICE) and S-function mod- j
Substituting e by P-1 in (4) results in
principle. els. Agilent continued its research
and investment on PHD modeling. Bpm = Fpm ( A11 , A12 P 2 , A13P 3 ,...
ters to weakly nonlinear devices us- In 2005, Agilents Loren Betts began
ing Volterra series (VIOMAP). Over research into the nonlinear measure- A 21P 1 , A 22 P 2 ,...)P + m (3)
the years internal HP prototypes ment and modeling problem while
were given different names when pursuing his Agilent-sponsored PhD A linearization of this equation re-
presented at conferences or industry through the University of Leeds (UK) sults in a PHD model (4).
tradeshows including the Vector Non- under Professor Roger Pollard.6 Betts
linear Network Analyzer (VNNA) and PhD research brought him together
the Large-Signal Network Analyzer Bpm = Spq , mn ( A11 )P + m n A qn
with Verspecht and Root, whose com-
(LSNA).2 qn
bined work, along with others at Agi-
lent, led to enhancements to the PHD + Tpq , mn ( A11 )P + m + n conj(A qn ) (4)
The Poly-harmonic modeling approach and ultimately the qn
Distortion Model X-parameter model and the Nonlin-
Limitations of the VIOMAP ap- ear Vector Network Analyzer (NVNA) The basic PHD model equation
proach led to new modeling efforts by on the Agilent PNA-X platform. (4) simply describes that the B-waves
HP through Jan Verspecht and David Meanwhile, other companies have result from a linear mapping of the A-
Root in the early 1990s. HP funded also used the PHD modeling approach waves, similar to classic S-parameters.
Verspechts PhD work at the Univer- as a starting point including NMDGs That the right-hand side of (1) con-
sity of Brussels (VUB) on a multi-fre- S-functions. Basically the approach tains a contribution associated with
quency Describing Function con- defines mappings of the input signal the A-waves as well as the conjugate
cept to address the limitations of the to the spectral components appearing of the A-waves is significantly differ-
Volterra theory in accurately describ- at all the device ports, generated by ent from S-parameters, where the
ing hard nonlinear behavior (see device nonlinearity. Under nonlinear conjugate part is not present at all.
Figure 1). Unlike the Volterra theory, operating conditions, the superposi- That is the case since, with S-param-
this new mathematical framework tion principle is not valid. However, in eters, the contribution of an A-wave
described very hard nonlinear behav- many practical cases, such as a power to a particular B-wave is not a func-
ior as encountered in comparators, amplifier stimulated with a narrow- tion of the phase of that A-wave. Any
harmonic mixers, samplers and other band input signal, there is only one phase shift in A will just result in the
hard clipping devices.3 The DUT dominant large-signal input compo- same phase shift of the contribution to
could be represented by a spectral nent present (A11) whereas all other the particular B-wave. This is no lon-
mapping function, Fpm (1) that cor- input components (the harmonic ger the case, however, when a large
relates all of the relevant input spec- frequencies) are relatively small. In fundamental signal (A11 wave) is pres-
tral components Aqn with the output that case, the harmonic superposition ent at the input of a nonlinear DUT.
spectral components Bpm, whereby q principle for the relatively small input In that case, the large-signal A11 wave
and p range from one to the number components can be applied, as illus- creates a phase reference point for all
of signal ports and whereby m and n trated in Figure 2. During the mea- other incident A-waves, and the con-
range from zero to the highest har- surement, several small-signal tones tribution to the B-waves of a particu-
monic index.4 that are harmonically related to the lar A-wave depends on the phase re-
fundamental drive are used to perturb lationship between this particular A-
Bpm = Fpm (A11 , A12 ..., A 21 , A 22 ...) (1) wave and the large-signal A11 wave.4
the device under test at each large-
Cover Feature
The PHD modeling approach re- A known golden
quires nonlinear measurement sys- standard diode
tems that can capture the absolute was used as a phase
amplitude of signals at the ports of reference to cali- nf
a device as well as the relative phase brate phase errors.
between frequency components. This A major drawback f PORT 1 PORT 2

information is necessary to study the of this initial ap- nf

phase of the distortion and ultimately proach was the as- POWER METER
the nonlinear behavior of the DUT. sumption that the
Therefore, new measurement systems input signal was
had to be developed to generate the a spectrally pure dn
model. sine wave. This is DUT
not often the case
Milestones in Nonlinear since nonlinear BIAS1 BIAS2
Measurement Development microwave sys-
Measuring nonlinearity in the time tems often distort s Fig. 3 Simplified schematic of Lotts VNNA prototype.
or frequency domain is driven largely the input signal
by the state of technology. Measure- through source-
ment systems have used a variety of pull resulting in the CH 2 TEST
instruments, including oscilloscopes presence of har- OSCILLOSCOPE ANALYZER
(both real-time and sampling), vec- monic excitation CH 1 REF
tor signal analyzers (VSA), real-time components on
signal analyzers (RTSA), large-sig- the incident wave
nal network analyzers (LSNA) and of the DUT.8 Fu- REF TEST
nonlinear vector network analyzers ture developments RF INPUT ANALYZER
(NVNA) based on VNAs. Different would address this PORT 1 PORT 2 TEST SET
architectures capture signal distortion source of error and SOURCE
through a variety of techniques. Fre- much of Lotts ini-
quency based solutions must maintain tial concepts are
or reconstruct the phase relationships found in nonlinear DUT
between frequency components to network analyzers s Fig. 4 Gunther Kompa, et al VNNA prototype.
achieve faithful waveform represen- today. took into account the phase distortion
tation. If the instrument measures Other early nonlinear measure- of the transition analyzer, applying
multiple port devices, the phase rela- ment systems included that of M. an analog to Lotts approach of using
tionships between signals measured at 9
Sipil, K. Lehtinen, V. Porra in 1988 a reference generator to precisely
each port must be maintained as well. and G. Kompa and F. van Raay10 in obtain the phase relationship between
Since a nonlinear DUT creates ad- 1990 (see Figure 4). Both efforts fundamental and harmonic tones.8
ditional spectral components different were based on microwave digitiz- The development of a traceable har-
from those applied at the input, char- ers using digitizing sampling oscil- monic phase calibration process was
acterizing a nonlinear device requires loscopes (DSO) to measure the fast the enabling technology for all subse-
an instrument that can measure this RF time domain waveforms by an quent NVNA work. In the mid-90s,
complete spectrum in a single mea- equivalent time sampling. Kompa, researchers at NIST measuring the
surement take. This is not possible et al extended the set-up of Sipil, et phase dispersion of a broadband re-
with the heterodyne measurements al with the use of a VNA to calibrate ceiver developed an ingenious elec-
of standard linear network analyzers the test set. Two switches directed tro-optic sampling set-up capable of
where the device response is obtained the REF and TEST signals to either characterizing harmonic phases up to
through successive excitation at one the broadband sampling oscilloscope 100 GHz with a NIST-traceable error
single spectral point. A fast way to (triggered by the fundamental) used of less than one degree.11 All the har-
reuse the heterodyne principle was to measure the harmonics coherent- monic phase standards used in todays
first proposed by Urs Lott. ly, or to the network analyzer used to NVNAs are traceable to this set-up.
In 1989, Lott published Mea- measure the fundamental behavior HP built its first LSNA proto-
surement of Magnitude and Phase of and calibrate the system. This con- type in 1992 based on four cou-
Harmonics Generated in Nonlinear figuration provided greater accuracy plers to detect the incident and
Microwave Two-ports.7 The tech- through the VNA calibration and scattered waves at both ports using
nique successively measured each addressed the trigger drift problem. a 20 GHz bandwidth sampling os-
harmonic generated by the non- But it was still slow, vulnerable to cilloscope for the data acquisition.
linear DUT (excited by a pure sine phase distortion errors introduced by Requiring a few hours to calibrate
wave) by synchronizing the linear the oscilloscope sampling heads and and about three minutes for each
VNA to the corresponding harmon- limited to one port excitation (DUT data acquisition, this prototype was
ics generated by an auxiliary genera- input). much too slow for practical use. It
tor, which was phase coherent with The calibration procedure used also had trigger drifting problems.
the excitation source (see Figure 3). by Kompa, et al and Demmler, et al
Cover Feature
A faster solution was found in 1993 teristics of a component. The RF I/V
by replacing the oscilloscope with a Commercial curves can be superimposed on the
sampler-based instrument leveraged Nonlinear DC I/V curves providing the designer
from two HP Microwave Transition Measurement Systems important information on the compo-
Analyzers, a commercial instrument The following is a brief description nent behavior under various DC bias
introduced in 1991. With four fully of the various large-signal or nonlin- and RF conditions.
synchronized RF data acquisition ear vector network analyzers, time- The Agilent instrument can also
channels, it supported the phase sampling oscilloscope-based sys- measure the multi-tone and inter-
and amplitude measurements of the tems, and load-/source-pull systems modulation products at the funda-
fundamental and harmonics at both available today. mental and harmonic frequencies.
input channels for frequencies up to The NVNA can be used to analyze
40 GHz. Since it was based on the Agilent Technologies and Partners complex signals such as those present
harmonic mixing principle, rather Agilent continued nonlinear re- with a device operating under fast RF
than on equivalent time sampling, search with a mixer-based architec- and/or DC pulses. To measure and
the instrument allowed data acqui- ture, which resulted in an early nonlin- analyze memory effects, a multi-enve-
sition about 100 times faster than ear vector network analyzer (NVNA) lope measurement can be performed
what was possible with a sampling prototype based on the Agilent PNA- where the component is stimulated
oscilloscope for the same or even a L in 2005.6 Today, Agilents PNA with a pulsed signal (RF and/or DC
better dynamic range (typically bet- firmware transforms the linear vector bias) and the resulting envelope a
ter than 50 dB).2 network analyzer into an NVNA to and b waveforms are measured at
By 1995, HP used high-precision measure the vector corrected abso- the fundamental and harmonics fre-
analog-to-digital convertors to re- lute amplitude and cross-frequency quencies. The envelope amplitude
place the MTAs internal ones, re- phase stimulus/response of a device. and phase can be analyzed versus time
sulting in a somewhat faster instru- A new Agilent phase reference, based at each of the spectral components.
ment with more dynamic range and on an active IC, provided the capabil- More recently, the NVNAs measure-
increased linearity. In 2003, Agilent ity to measure the vector corrected ments were extended to include dy-
licensed the LSNA IP to Maury Mi- cross-frequency phase out to 50 GHz namic envelopes resulting in the new
crowave who continued to offer this with very narrow grid spacing. Since multi-envelope measurement do-
sampler-based architecture. Agilent the amplitude and cross-frequency main.13 The multi-envelope measure-
continued nonlinear research with phase of all the frequency spectra is ment domain is currently being uti-
a mixer-based architecture, which accurately known, an inverse Fourier lized to measure X-parameters with
resulted in an early nonlinear vec- transform can be applied to the fre- enhanced time-varying dynamics.
tor network analyzer (NVNA) proto- quency domain data to generate the Agilent along with Maury Micro-
type based on the Agilent PNA-L in time domain waveforms. wave extended the X-parameter mea-
2005.6 These vector corrected stimulus/ surement capability by adding arbi-
Using microwave transition analyz- response measurements lay the foun- trary load-dependence X-parameters
ers for signal detection was also be- dation for the automated X-parameter (fundamental and harmonic frequen-
ing pursued by Demmler, Tasker and measurements. Figure 5 illustrates cies) to the NVNA. This capability has
Schlechtweg at essentially the same the PNA-X mixer-based NVNA archi- also been extended to the load-pull
time (1994). Professor Tasker and oth- tecture. Since the X-parameter mea- system from Focus Microwave. The
ers at Cardiff University developed the surements for a two-port component full, complex Gamma dependence
table-based Cardiff model and its as- require two sources, the PNA-X hard- of a device under large-signal oper-
sociated measurement system. Unlike ware architecture utilizes integrated, ating conditions is captured and can
the PHD modeling approach, which spectrally pure sources, internal be exported into simulation software
is based on amplitude/phase informa- combining network, internal pulse allowing devices to be accurately rep-
tion of a DUTs spectral response, the modulators/generators, and flexible resented using X-parameter models
Cardiff measurement system captures signal routing. in cascaded multi-stage, Doherty or
the current/voltage waveform at the The NVNA can be used as a vec- other complex amplifier circuit simu-
device ports with a test set-up based on tor corrected time domain scope by lations. Additionally, the load-pull
a sampling oscilloscope. The resulting measuring the absolute amplitude option lets researchers account for
model uses four table-based nonlin- and cross-frequency phase of the sig- arbitrary load mismatches, measure
ear functions: Ic, Qc, Vbe and Qb, all nals with error correction applied. dynamic load-lines and optimize per-
defined versus Ib and Vce (based on a The NVNA with the N5244A PNA-X formance. The system does not cur-
non-uniform bias grid) to define device can sweep from 10 MHz to 50 GHz rently support direct independent
behavior for a given input stimulus, creating a time domain scope with 50 control of harmonic impedances;
bias and terminating impedance. The GHz of detection bandwidth for a dis- however, the uncontrolled harmonic
system can employ single or multiple- crete point resolution of 1/(50 GHz) impedances presented by the load
tone large-signal measurements in- 20 ps. This time domain data can be tuner are captured through calibrated
cluding harmonic load-pull. The look- used to examine the I/V waveforms at measurements and corrected for in
up table approach forces the designer the device terminals in order to ana- the exported X-parameters. Although
to stay within the measurement space lyze the linear and nonlinear charac- the system itself does not support op-
to avoid extrapolation errors.12 timization through harmonic tuning
Cover Feature


R1 R3 R4 R2



s Fig. 5 Agilent PNA-X NVNA.

on the test bench, the information a big advantage in determining what measurement, waveform analysis and
captured in the X-parameters enables (load) makes the device work best at control of the system including active
performance optimization via har- the time of the measurement rather harmonic load-pull.
monic tuning during simulation. than by capturing its behavior as a The use of an oscilloscope pro-
black-box and optimizing the perfor- vides a measurement whose speed
Mesuro/Tektronix mance during simulation. Indepen- is fixed, regardless of the complex-
An alternative measurement/mod- dent control of harmonic impedances ity of the signal. These instruments
eling approach is offered by Mesuro is critical to optimizing performance measure over a broad bandwidth and
Ltd., a commercial entity with ties to through waveform engineering. For are not limited to acquisition around
the longstanding developments taking design work that goes beyond a single harmonics of the excitation. There is,
place at Cardiff University (Tasker, DUT, such as a multi-stage amplifier, however, a corresponding reduction
Benedikt, et al). Their waveform a simulation model is still required. in dynamic range when compared to
engineering measurement system For these instances, the Mesuro sys- systems based on harmonic mixing
includes a test set similar to the VNA tem can produce the I/V table-based or sampling downconversion tech-
and a sampling oscilloscope instead model that was developed at Cardiff niques. The measurement accuracy of
of samplers or mixers. The system University. the oscilloscope can also be affected
(MB20 and MB150) can optimize per- The system modules include the by both time-base distortion and jit-
formance directly on the test bench following: A wideband receiver based ter, although these can be corrected
via active harmonic tuning and gener- on a Tektronix sampling oscilloscope using methods to compensate for ran-
ate a measurement-based model. capable of simultaneously capturing dom and systematic timing errors, as
The measurement solution enables all signal components from DC to 67 described in Reference 11.
emulation of realistic signal conditions GHz with effective 12 bit accuracy
at the DUT. Calibration removes the NMDG, Rohde & Schwarz, Maury
and a dynamic range of up to 50 dB;
package or test fixture behavior, plac- Microwave and Focus Microwave
an arbitrary waveform generator (also
ing the measurement reference plane from Tektronix) that synthesizes fully Starting in 2003, Maury Micro-
directly at the DUT ports. Designers synchronous waveform shapes for the wave and NMDG worked together on
gain direct access to current and volt- input and output of the DUT up to 6 the first commercially available large-
age waveforms to study their shape GHz, when using both outputs sepa- signal network analyzer, the MT4463.
and optimize the device performance rately, or up to 10 GHz in interleave This Maury/NMDG LSNA, using
through control of the harmonic im- mode; an RF and baseband test-set technology licensed to Maury by Agi-
pedances at the device ports. For the that allows for the contactless detec- lent Technologies, was configured
case of designing a single-stage am- tion of the current and voltage wave- largely from Agilent test equipment
plifier, the benefit to waveform engi- forms and an interface with the active and NMDG developed hardware/
neering is that real-time visualization source and load-pull system while software. It was released in March
and control of I/V waveforms at the providing bias to the DUT; and inte- 2005 and measured the complete volt-
device terminals will give the engineer grated software tools for calibration, age and current or incident/reflected


Cover Feature
tive loop tuner is capable of providing
gamma values to 1.0 at the DUT port.
Alternatively, any type of impedance
EXCITATION tuner from any vendor can be used in
SOURCE REFLECTOMETER the load-pull system.
SYNCHRONISER Nonlinear data is available direct-
ly from the software in a number of
formats. This solution can provide
nonlinear figures of merit for use in
a system-level behavioral block or
load-pull information for designing an
20 dB

PORT 1 PORT 2 PORT 4 optimum impedance matching net-

work in a separate EDA tool. Anritsu
and HFE are exploring exportable
nonlinear model formats as members
s Fig. 6 Block diagram of standard ZVxPlus configuration. HF Technik
wave behavior under small- (S-param- multi-harmonic source- and load-pull Started in 2004 by researchers
eters) and large-signal conditions. systems utilizing computer controlled from XLIM Laboratory in France,
Since June 2008, NMDG has part- electro-mechanical wideband and har- AMCAD provides a modeling tool
nered with Rohde & Schwarz to en- monic tuners with VSWR performance with pulsed I/V RF characterization
able its VNAs with the ability to char- ranging from 10:1 to over 200:1. and load-pull system. Their associated
acterize nonlinear devices in time and software platform (IVCAD) controls
Anritsu/HFE these test benches, manages mea-
frequency domains. NMDGs NM300
ZVxPlus (see Figure 6) is a combina- Anritsus VectorStar Nonlinear sured data and model extraction with
tion of software and hardware that System stems from collaboration direct links to RF EDA tools (ADS,
runs on top of the Rohde & Schwarz between Anritsu and High Fre- MWO). They are currently among the
ZVA and ZVT series Vector Network quency Engineering Sagl of Switzer- few independent companies provid-
Analyzers (VNA), supporting a fre- land (HFE). The system includes an ing X-parameters characterization and
quency range from 600 MHz up to 20 HFE test set, various components PHD model extraction services.
GHz. The measurement system can for load-pull analysis and the HFE Other firms offering nonlinear de-
be calibrated to measure the incident software. Anritsus MS4640A family vice characterization include Mod-
and reflected waves or voltages and of VNAs can control as many as four elithics (DC and pulsed I/V, load-/
currents at the ports of a component independent signal sources for multi- source-pull, compact model and X-pa-
under test, under realistic conditions tone measurements and direct-access rameter extraction), which was found-
using a periodic harmonic-related loops for source and receiver moni- ed in 2001 by Lawrence Dunleavy and
stimulus and supports analysis of non- toring. Applications include built- Thomas Weller, and Auriga Measure-
linear harmonic behavior in the fre- in programmable power sweeps for ments Systems LLC (DC and pulsed
quency domain, harmonic measure- gain-compression analysis at multiple I/V, load-/source-pull, compact model),
ments including phase, fundamental frequency points, inter-modulation which was founded in 2004 by Yusuke
and harmonic tuning, time domain distortion (IMD) measurements and Tajima. Auriga also manufactures and
representation and non 50 ohm mea- harmonic measurements. sells custom Automated Test Equip-
surements. The Anritsu/HFE nonlinear system ment (ATE) for device modeling.
The R&S VNA features inde- inserts a low-loss coupler between In 2008 Jan Verspecht co-founded
pendent synthesizers to support the DUT and load-pull tuner, achiev- the company Verspecht-Teyssier-De-
measurements on amplifiers and ing improved measurement accuracy Groote SAS. The company, also known
frequency-converting DUTs such of the source and load impedances as VTD, uses the sampling architec-
as mixers and front-ends. The high at the DUT. This approach makes it ture of the LSNA in order to build
spectral purity of the source signals possible to monitor the impedance in the SWAP-X402, an affordable mea-
as well as the high intercept point real time while also monitoring the surementinstrument dedicated to the
and high sensitivity of the receiv- performance of the DUT. The VNA time-domain load-pull characterization
ers eliminate the need for external provides immediate display of the of power transistors (not optimized for
filters in multi-tone measurements DUTs performance in response to behavioral modeling). It has the capa-
and measurements on frequency- changes in impedance, allowing real- bility to measure the phase and ampli-
converting DUTs. Rhode & Schwarz time tuning. Pre-calibrated tuners are tudes of harmonics (and as such the
ZVA can also be used to perform not required since the impedance can time domain waveforms), even under
hot-S22 measurements. be monitored while the DUT is be- pulsed operating conditions.
NMDG is also partnered with Fo- ing measured. This configuration also Heuermann HF-Technik GmbH
cus Microwaves, extending their so- eliminates the importance of tuner (HHF) is a spin-off of the Aachen Uni-
lution to include fundamental and repeatability. The Anritsu/HFE ac- versity of Applied Sciences. Founded


Cover Feature
in 2008 by Professor Heuermann, the lent, the files are open, documented, speed advantage for solving the linear
companys NonLin-S product performs non-encrypted and human readable portions of the network, which may
calibrated complex nonlinear measure- to enable broad industry adoption include dispersive elements such as
ments with a multi-port-VNA from and to encourage others to join in the transmission lines. The nonlinear
R&S, Agilent or Anritsu (ZVA, ZVB, development of the technology. The time-domain solution is converted
ENA, PNA, or Anritsu). The system company asks for direct collaboration into the frequency-domain via dis-
supports IM measurements, mixer with companies interested in support- crete or fast Fourier transform (DFT
measurements, harmonic measure- ing X-parameters in order to provide or FFT) and the spectra of the cur-
ments, sampling oscilloscope measure- updates to the standard as it evolves rents at the linear-nonlinear interface
ments and spectrum analyzer measure- and ensure quality. According to Agi- are compared. The spectra used in the
ments. lents website, the company is cur- algorithm is defined by the RF source
rently providing additional support to (or sources) placed in the schematic to
Designing with key customers and strategic partners drive the DUT and the simulation set-
Nonlinear due to the rapidly developing state up specified by the user and includes
Measurement Models of the technology, as well as finite re- the number of harmonics and inter-
For further analysis and circuit sources. modulation tones for the simulation
design, the X-parameters, S-functions, engine to solve.
The OpenWave Forum The continuity equation requires
Cardiff models, etc. from the mea- Evolving concurrently alongside
surement system (Agilent, NMDG/ that the nonlinear currents equal the
Agilents X-parameters approach is linear currents. The technique seeks
R&S, HFE/Anritsu and/or Tektronix/ the effort spawned by AWR, Anritsu,
Mesuro) must operate with a simula- a solution to this steady-state nonlin-
HFE, Mesuro, NMDG, Rohde & ear problem by iteratively solving for a
tor that supports RF/microwave mod- Schwarz and Tektronix last fall to form
els and analyses, i.e. Agilent EEsof set of variables such as the voltages at
an industry alliance (www.openwave the linear-nonlinear interface. This it-
ADS, Genesys or AWRs Microwave with the goal of establish-
Office (MWO). With four different erative process of balancing the cur-
ing an open standard for exchanging rents between the linear and nonlinear
measurement systems extracting mod- nonlinear behavioral modeling data
els based upon different techniques, network nodes can be responsible for
across multiple vendor tools. lengthy simulation times and in cer-
there is a need for a common model This group, known as the Open-
file format support that reaches across tain cases, a failure to converge. This
Wave Forum (OWF), also wishes can occur when the spectral content is
measurement and simulation plat- to create and promote a unified and
forms. This well-recognized need has high (highly nonlinear conditions) or
transparent data exchange format for many nonlinear elements exist.
spawned two approaches. large-signal nonlinear simulations, As a frequency defined device,
measurements and models. The yet- PHD models are not solved in the
to-be-finalized open standard will time domain, obviating the Fourier
Since Agilent produces both ensure that data from any compliant
measurement system and design transform and iterative solving of the
measurement system would be com- harmonic balance algorithm. Essen-
software, they have developed the patible and transportable to any EDA
capabilities of both simultaneously, tially, large-signal VNAs and the PHD
environment that recognizes the stan- modeling approach do in measure-
leading to the NVNA/X-Parameter dard. The alliance believes their col-
solution. The Agilent NVNA firm- ments and modeling what Harmonic
lective approach is necessary to facili- Balance (and Circuit Envelop) algo-
ware allows a user to define the tate an open standard that represents
saved data as A and B waves, volt- rithms do in simulation. This results
a mutually agreed upon flexible, non- in reduced memory requirements and
ages, currents, or X-parameters. The proprietary MDIF data format for
data is saved in the Microwave Data fast simulation run times.
nonlinear systems. Model accuracy is ensured by the
Interchange Format (MDIF), a file
format initially developed for behav- Simulation fact that the PHD model is directly
ioral modeling of nonlinear devices Microwave nonlinear simulators derived from measurements (or mod-
in ADS, which has become a de-fac- such as ADS, Genesys, Microwave els derived directly from circuit simu-
to standard supported by other tools Office and Ansoft Designer use the lation). The models accuracy holds as
as well. In ADS, the X-parameter Harmonic Balance algorithm, which far as the DUT is stimulated under the
simulation component is a native splits the circuit/system into two sub- conditions for which the assumed har-
compiled simulation element that circuits, a linear sub-circuit and a monic superposition principle holds.
directly interfaces with the spectral nonlinear sub-circuit. This technique, The simulation stimuli and load con-
Jacobian of the nonlinear simulator which has been in use for decades, ditions must also reflect those of the
and can be used with all other ADS allows the simulator to solve the lin- measurement. Load dependent PHD
components in a circuit design. ear portion in the frequency domain models from load-pull measurements
Agilent wants to establish X-pa- and the nonlinear portion in the time (or simulation) are required when the
rameters as an industry standard, domain. The time domain is required terminal impedances in the simulation
publishing the equations (IEEE for addressing the time variant signal are different than those of the mea-
Explore) and the underlying X-pa- distortion due to device nonlinear- surement system (typically 50 ohm)
rameter theory. According to Agi- ity. The frequency domain provides a as would be the case with mismatched
cascaded black-boxes (i.e. multi-stage
Cover Feature
amplifier or front-end module). three-port devices, such as mixers and as the industry is adopting this new
converters, is also underway. approach. While less general than a
Multi-tone Analysis At IMS last year, Verspecht, Horns, compact model, these measurement-
X-parameters are a complete de- Betts, Gunyan, Pollard, Gillease and based models and measurement sys-
scription of steady-state multi-tone Root reported an extension of the X- tems are poised to bring relief to what
nonlinear component behavior. They parameter model to include dynamics had been a persistent bottleneck in
scale with number of ports and large- identified from multi-envelope X-pa- the design process. n
signal tones. The initial X-parameter rameter measurements on an NVNA
measurements on the NVNA were with a pulsed stimulus with variable Acknowledgment
supported for a single large tone on/off ratios. The model was shown to The author gratefully acknowledg-
stimulus on a two-port device. Infer- correctly predict the transient RF re- es the support and contributions of
ences about component behavior in sponse to time varying RF excitations the following individuals: D. Root, L.
response to continuous spectrum in- including the asymmetry between off- Betts, C. Plott, J. Civello and J. Smith
put envelope signals (digital modula- to-on and on-to-off switched behavior (Agilent Technologies); S. Reyes and
tion) can be made by leveraging the as well as responses to conventional K. Van Diepen (Anritsu); M. Vanden
AM-AM and AM-PM information in wide-bandwidth communication sig- Bossche (NMDG); M. Roth, T. Bed-
the one-tone X-parameters using cir- nals with the high peak-to-average norz, J. Fries and J. Wolf (Rohde &
cuit envelope analysis. Here the time- ratios that excite long-term memory Schwarz); and S. Hess and M. Ed-
varying input envelope is mapped, at effects such as self-heating, dynamic wards (AWR). Also, a very special
each instant in time, into the output bias effects and trapping phenomena. thanks to Jan Verspecht for his im-
envelope value at the same time using The approach was applied to an HBT pressive contributions to nonlinear
the static X-parameters. The results transistor and a commercial PA mod- device characterization and whose
are valid (indicative of the actual de- ule that exhibited significant memory timely and detailed responses to my
vice response) provided only that the effects and experimentally validated questions made this article possible.
modulation is narrow-band relative by two-tone NVNA measurements us-
to the carrier. ADS 2009 Update 1 X-Parameter is a registered trademark of
ing novel envelope transient measure- Agilent Technologies Inc.
now allows for an arbitrary number of ment techniques.
tones and arbitrary number of ports as References
well as built-in native support for X- Conclusion 1.
parameter simulation. Proprietary empirical models and che/nmdgvaria/LSNATechnologyTheory.pdf.
Prior to this availability there was extraction techniques for nonlinear 2. J. Verspecht, Calibration of a Measurement
System for High Frequency Nonlinear De-
no direct way to investigate multiple devices are a costly and time-con- vices, Doctoral Dissertation, Vrije Univer-
tones around the main drive tone. suming effort for integrated device siteit Brussel, Belgium, November 1995.
FDD models are also inherently manufacturers. Lack of model avail- 3.
steady state models, naturally support- ability represents a real bottleneck file.htm.
4. J. Verspecht and D. Root, Poly-harmonic
ing the discrete harmonic tones used for designers while uncertainty over Distortion Modeling, IEEE Microwave
in single-tone harmonic balance, and model quality is a leading cause of Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 3, June 2006, pp. 44-
not general or arbitrary waveforms. design failure. Recent breakthrough 57.
This limitation can be circumvented innovations in nonlinear characteriza- 5.
by coupling the Harmonic Balance tion (i.e. measurement, modeling and eng&cc=US&cname=AGILENT_EDITO-
solver with either circuit envelope or simulation) look to compliment com- RIAL.
complex envelope solvers when more pact models with measurement-based 6. P. Blockley, D. Gunyan and J.B. Scott, Mix-
complex drive waveforms are needed er-based, Vector-corrected, Vector Signal/
black-box models similar in nature to Network Analyzer Offering 300 kHz to 20
for EVM and ACPR analyses. Both S-parameters. For nonlinear devices, GHz Bandwidth and Traceable Phase Re-
methods, Complex Envelope and Cir- such models must accurately account sponse, 2005 IEEE MTT-S International
cuit Envelope, make use of the AM- for the amplitude/phase information Microwave Symposium Digest, June 12-17,
AM and AM-PM information in the 2005.
of the DUTs spectral components, 7. U. Lott, Measurement of Magnitude and
model and both assume that spectral which will in turn depend on mea- Phase of Harmonics Generated in Nonlinear
widening is such that inter-modula- surement parameters (i.e. stimuli, Microwave Two-ports, IEEE Transactions,
tion effects are narrow band centered load impedances, etc.). Current com- Vol. 37, No.10, October 1989, pp.1506-1511.
8. A. Barel, History of Nonlinear Microwave
about the carrier. mercial offerings are based on the Measurements, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
With the upcoming two-tone X- Poly-harmonic Distortion model, (Dept. ELEC); Pleinlaan 2; B-1050 Brussels,
parameter capability added to Agilents which takes advantage of the harmon- Belgium.
NVNA, the calibrated nonlinear cross- ic superposition principle. Such mod- 9. M. Sipil, K. Lethinen and V. Porra. High-
frequency Periodic Time-domain Waveform
frequency vector distortion informa- els are derived using a new genera- Measurement System, IEEE Transactions,
tion can be used for designing distor- tion of measurement systems known Vol. 36, No 10, October 1988, pp. 1397-
tion cancellation circuits and apply oth- as large-signal network analyzers or 1405.
er design principles, such as derivative nonlinear vector network analyzer. 10. G. Kompa and F. Van Raay, Error-correct-
ed Large-signal Waveform Measurement
superposition,9 that previously could Model accuracy is assured provided System Combining Network Analyser and
be applied only if there was confidence the simulation conditions reflect those Sampling Oscilloscope Capabilities, IEEE
in accurate nonlinear device mod- of the measurement. Both model and Transactions, Vol. 38, No. 4, April 1990, pp.
els. Extending the NVNA to measure measurement technology are evolving 358-365.


Cover Feature
11. D. Williams, P. Hale and K.A. Remley, The International Workshop on Integrated Non- posium Digest, June 2008.
Sampling Oscilloscope as a Microwave In- linear Microwave and Milimeter-wave Cir- 14. J. Verspecht, J. Horn, L. Betts, D. Gunyan,
strument, IEEE Microwave Magazine, Vol. cuits, Duisburg, Germany, October 1994, pp. R. Pollard, C. Gillease and D.E. Root, Ex-
8, No. 4, August 2007, pp. 59-68. 153-158. tension of X-Parameters to Include Long-
12. M. Demmler, P.J. Tasker and M. Schlech- 13. L. Betts, Vector and Harmonic Amplitude/ term Dynamic Memory Effects, 2009 IEEE
tweg, On-wafer Large-signal Power, S-Pa- Phase Corrected Multi-envelope Stimulus MTT-S International Microwave Symposium
rameter and Waveform Measurement Sys- Response Measurements of Nonlinear De- Digest, 2009, pp. 741-744.
tem, Conference Record of INMMC94-3rd vices, 2008 IEEE MTT-S Microwave Sym-
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Agilent Technologies, Inc. 2010
Printed in USA, March 22, 2010