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Arbitrary Function Generators

Today's designs are often complex, demanding a variety of stimulus signals during test. Tektronix function generators are best-in-class instruments that deliver uncompromised frequency agility and ensure signals are accurately reproduced every time.

With pre-loaded standard waveforms, arbitrary waveform capability, and signal impairment options, Tektronix function generators support a wide range of applications and provide an economical solution for applications that don’t require the advanced capabilities of an arbitrary waveform generator.

Find the right arbitrary function generator for your application or explore all Tektronix signal generators.

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Compare Tektronix Arbitrary Function Generators

Compare Model Analog Channels Sample Rate Bandwidth Vertical Resolution Record Length Output Frequency Range Base Price

1 - 2

250 MS/s - 2 GS/s

25 MHz - 250 MHz

14-bit

16 MSa/ch

25 MHz - 250 MHz

US $2,840

2

125 MS/s - 300 MS/s

25 MHz - 60 MHz

14-bit

8k points - 1M points

25 MHz - 60 MHz

US $1,150

1

250 MS/s

20 MHz

14-bit

128k points

20 MHz

US $2,630
 

How to choose an arbitrary function generator

Though there are a number of factors to consider when choosing the right arbitrary function generator for your bench, here are a few of the most important considerations.

Consideration Description
Sample rate This affects the frequency and fidelity of the main output signal. The sampling frequency must be more than twice that of the highest spectral frequency component of the generated signal to ensure accurate signal reproduction.
Bandwidth The analog bandwidth of a signal generator’s output circuitry must be sufficient to handle the maximum frequency that its sample rate will support. In other words, there must be enough bandwidth to pass the highest frequencies and transition times that can be clocked out of the memory without degrading the signal characteristics.
Record length This determines the maximum number of samples that can be stored and plays an important role in signal fidelity because it determines how many points of data can be stored to define a waveform. Particularly in the case of complex waveforms, memory depth is critical to reproducing signal details accurately.
Output frequency range Perhaps one of the most important considerations—and often the biggest driver of price—is the frequency range. It’s essential to choose a function generator that can operate in a frequency range that supports your tests.
Noise and jitter These two characteristics are very closely related and are essentially undesired distortions of the signal, which you want to keep as low as possible.
Number of channels Depending on the application needs, a single output may be sufficient. But for IQ modulation for instance, two outputs are mandatory.
User interface A large, modern touchscreen with responsive feedback has become a key factor in labs where test time is essential.
 

Resources

types-of-signal-generators-banner
Blog

Types of signal generators

There are many different types of signal generators with diverse features and applications. This blog highlights the most common types of signal generators and differentiates the unique capabilities of waveform and function generators.

capacitance
Application Note

Capacitance and Inductance Measurements Using an Oscilloscope and a Function Generator

Choose the best DC bench power supply for your application. Tektronix and Keithley offer a comprehensive portfolio of bench power supplies to address your power sourcing needs.

tek afg3252c
Primer

25 Common Things You Can Do with an Arbitrary Function Generator

DC Bench power supplies are a staple of every engineer’s bench. Here are six things you should know about bench power supplies.

A setup for performing double pulse testing of SiC semiconductors includes a function generator for driving the gate of the MOSFET and an oscilloscope with analysis software for measuring VDS and ID.
Application Note

Double Pulse Testing for Power Semiconductor Devices with an Oscilloscope and Arbitrary Function Generator

Double pulse testing is useful for measuring switching parameters and evaluating the dynamic behavior of power semiconductor devices. Read this application note to learn how to perform a double pulse test with an Oscilloscope and Arbitrary function generator.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a function generator used for?

Block diagram of a function generator

A function generator is a piece of electronic test instrument used to generate and deliver standard waveforms, typically sine and square waves, to a device under test. It can be used to test a design or confirm that a piece of electronic equipment is working as intended.

What’s the difference between a function generator and a signal generator?

A signal generator is any device that creates electronic signals. A vector signal generator specializes in creating RF signals with analog and digital modulation schemes in formats such as QAM, QPSK, FSK, BPSK, and OFDM.

A function generator is a specialized piece of test equipment that has a preset list of waveforms or patterns that it can play. Function generators are known for their ability to rapidly switch from one frequency to another and are a more economical option than other more advanced waveform generators. 

How do function generators work?

Diagram showing how a function generator creates signals that feed to oscilloscopes and other test and measurement equipment

A function generator connects to a device under test (DUT) via test leads and creates voltage waveforms at a desired frequency to the DUT. Using the instrument’s front panel, the operator can change the parameters of a waveform, such as how fast it’s played, the amplitude and offset, or add basic distortion or modulation.

What is the difference between a function generator and an arbitrary waveform generator (AWG)?

A function generator primarily produces standard waveforms like sine, square, and triangle waves, while an arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) can create more complex and custom waveforms based on user input. AWGs are often used for advanced applications like high-speed signal testing.

What types of waveforms can a function generator produce?

Function generators can produce a wide range of waveforms, including sine waves for AC circuit testing, square waves for digital signal testing, triangle waves for waveform analysis, and arbitrary waveforms for custom signal generation.

Can I synchronize multiple function generators?

Yes, many function generators allow synchronization through various methods such as external triggers or synchronization inputs/outputs. This is particularly useful for generating complex waveforms or multi-channel setups.