RFIC White Paper Series: Fundamentals of Power Amplifier Testing


The power amplifier (PA) – as either a discrete component or part of an integrated front end module (FEM) – is one of the most integral RF integrated circuits (RFICs) in the modern radio. In this two-part series, you will learn the basics of testing RF PAs and FEMs through interactive white papers with multiple how-to videos.

Part 1: Basics of Power Amplifier and Front End Module Measurements
When characterizing the performance of an RF PA, engineers can use a wide range of measurements and test techniques to understand the gain, linearity, and efficiency of the device.


Part 2: Testing PAs under Digital Predistortion and Dynamic Power Supply Conditions
To address these linearity and efficiency requirements, system designers frequently use linearization techniques such as digital predistortion (DPD) to improve linearity, and dynamic power supply (DPS) techniques such as envelope tracking (ET) or direct polar (DP) modulation to improve efficiency.


Part 1 Contents

Part 1 Contents:

  • Gain and Output Power
  • Calibrating Power Measurements with a Power Meter
  • Measuring Gain with a Vector Network Analyzer
  • Return Loss and Reverse Isolation
  • Noise Figure
  • Noise Unit Conversion
  • Noise Figure Measurements
  • Y-Factor Method Using a Calibrated Noise Source
  • Harmonics
  • Intermodulation Distortion
  • Theory of Intermodulation Distortion
  • IMD Measurement Configuration
  • Efficiency
  • Drain Efficiency
  • Power Added Efficiency
Part 2 Contents

Part 2 Contents:

  • Behavioral Characteristics of Power Amplifiers
  • AM-AM and AM-PM Measurements
  • Memory Effects
  • Understanding the Effects of Nonlinear Distortion
  • Digital Predistortion (DPD)
  • Effects of DPD on a Modulated Transmission
  • Memoryless Look-Up Table (LUT)
  • Digital Predistortion for PAs with Memory
  • Memory Polynomial Model (MPM)
  • Generalized Memory Polynomial Model (GMP)
  • Testing PAs under DPD Conditions
  • Dynamic Power Supply Transmitters (Envelope Tracking)
  • Introduction to Dynamic Power Supply Techniques
  • Efficiency at the Transistor Level
  • Testing Dynamic Power Supply PAs
  • Addressing Synchronization and Alignment Challenges



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