Historically, test and measurement instruments have been developed primarily with their own operating systems. In fact, many late model conventional test equipment devices contain embedded PCs running Windows or Embedded Windows. Unlike such conventional instruments, modular or PC-driven instruments contain no operating system. This architecture supports numerous advantages: it enhances instrument lifetime and stability by avoiding operating system and computer hardware obsolescence; it provides a single step to data purging by powering down the machine; it enables easy sharing of the instrument among users in a lab since all calibration and state files are saved on PC; and it greatly reduces the size, weight, power and cost of the instrument for the user.
In this paper, Copper Mountain Technologies describe the benefits of modular test equipment in the particular category of USB Vector Network Analyzers (VNAs), including increased measurement speed, ease of automation, and enabling of advanced measurement scenarios such as pulsed and high power measurements.