AMCAD Engineering has announced the release of the 1.7 version of IQSTAR, the most advanced RF Circuit Characterization Software.

This major release includes new features to address the industry’s additional applications and measurement requirements. It also showcases enhancements of the capabilities of the existing modules to increase user experience satisfaction.

The growing popularity of IQSTAR brings its share of customer requests to include new software capabilities, allowing them to characterize their power amplifiers. The latest release of IQSTAR includes three new modules.

IQSTAR 1.7 Main New Features and Software options

To improve the test engineer’s measurement efficiency and to provide an appropriate tool for a thorough analysis of the amplifier performances, multiple features were added to the IQSTAR modules.

Hardware Monitoring feature

The major improvement of version 1.7 of IQSTAR is the hardware monitoring capability. This feature allows the user to monitor the behavior of the device for a predefined time. Meaurements such power, volatge, current, temperature, pressure are enabled with IQS100B-10 module of IQSTAR.

The monitoring purpose is to observe a characteristic of the DUT at regular time intervals to detect and record any variation. For amplifier measurements, it is a powerful tool to study the deviation of the specifications after different characterizations.

The monitoring can handle up to 13 power meters, up to 32 IV measurements and up to 30 thermal and pressure detectors, defined in the setup.

In order to integrate the monitoring in the automation procedure of a PA characterization, the related script functions were created in the software and the sweep plan was updated with the associated commands, including:

  • Thermal management and thermal optimization
  • RF source controller
  • RF Power meter manager
Hardware Monitoring Features

New Hardware added to the setup editor

The setup editor was enhanced with additional hardware to support the customer demands, increasing the versatility of the characterization setups. Therefore, two hardware were added to the setup editor:

  • Power meter matrix, allwing a full control of different paths and allowing multiport measurements.
  • Pressure sensor added to the thermal station hardware to measure and monitor the pressure in the vicinity of the DUT.

S-Parameters-based Calibration method

Scalar calibration is usually based on power meter without prior knowledge of the characteristics of the different modules of the setup. However, in some configurations, having the S-parameters of the setup blocks can speed up the calibration process and overtake any power meter dynamic range limitation. Therefore, the new 1.7 release of IQSTAR includes the ability to perfom a scalar calibration using S-parameters.

New Sweep Plan capabilities

Step by Step execution mode

The sweep plan is a powerful tool for measurement automation. More and more customers are taking advantage of this feature to perform different measurement sequences with minimal interaction with the test engineer. The increasing popularity of the Sweep plan leads to a complexity increase of the test plans, which requires some careful verifications before launching the measurements on a DUT.

The 1.7 release of IQSTAR upgraded the Sweep plan with a step by step executions functionality using breakpoints. The action currently being executed is highlighted for a better comprehension of the sequencing process. This new feature allows the test engineer to program and validate any measurement sequence with high level of confidence, protecting both the instruments and the DUT.

Sweep Plan Capabilities

Semi-automatic mode

The semi automatic mode allows running a measurement from the setup editor during a sweep plan pause. This feature allows the test engineer to pause and verify a configuration or a meaurements before continuing the automation sequence to ensure a safe and adequate measurement process.

IQSTAR 1.7 Software General Improvements

Improvement were added to the IQSTAR release 1.7 at different levels:

  • Measurement curve
    •  New Variable: thermal station measurement (temperature command, temperature measurement and pressure measurement)
    • New Data: Time and Praw
  • Export
    • S2P files: added wafer information (X,Y and sub-die) in the header
    • S2P files: added thermal station measurement (temperature command, temperature and pressure measurements) in the header 
  • Updated the default settings “delta tone powers”: dBm instead of dBc
  • Added index data in real-time viewer
  • New option for the IQSTAR Measurement action: Switch to measurement tab

The drivers development for a software like IQSTAR represents a non-negligible coding time for our software engineers. With new instruments comes new measurement capabilities and features that need to be supported by our software. Our team is also putting all the necessary efforts into supporting our Instrument vendors’ partners by updating any driver when a new instrument firmware is released.

We thank our increasing number of customers worldwide for their feedback, allowing us to improve IQSTAR at every release. A more detailed list of all the new modules, features, enhancements, drivers, and bug fixes is available in the product manual of IQSTAR, available with the software installer.