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RF attenuators vs RF Switches-Difference between RF attenuators and RF Switches devices

This page compares RF attenuators vs RF Switches and mentions difference between RF attenuators and RF Switches.

Both RF attenuators and RF switches are RF components developed with specific applications of use. Following sections compare these RF devices with respect to their features, functions and technical specifications.

RF Attenuators

• RF Attenuators are devices which provide attenuation in the RF signal path.
• They are used to maintain appropriate power levels wherever required in the RF circuits.
• The RF attenuators are of two types viz. fixed and variable.
• Fixed RF attenuator provides fixed value of attenuation.
• Variable RF attenuator provides variable value of attenuation with step size as designed.
Refer Fixed RF attenuator➤ and Programmable RF attenuator➤.

RF Switches

• The RF switches are devices which open one RF path and close the other path based on detected faulty condition.
• They are used to avoid any downtime condition in the system by introducing healthy system in place of faulty system in the circuit path.
• RF Switches normally operate in hot standby mode. In cold standby, they are not needed as manually systems are replaced.
Refer RF Switch applications and manufacturers➤.

Following table compares both RF attenuators and RF switches and mentions difference between them.

Specifications RF Attenuators RF Switches
Frequency range From DC to >10GHz, multi-octaves From DC to >10GHz, multi-decades
Level Maximum Input power is typically between 10 to 30 dBm Maximum Input power is typically between 10 to 30 dBm
Insertion Loss Min. attenuation is typically in the range 1 to 6 dB. Attenuation in ON state is typically in the range 1 to 3 dB.
Isolation Signal transmission at max. attenuation is typically between 30 to 80 dB. Signal transmission in OFF state to output (for SPST type switch) or to unselected port (for SPDT) is typically between 25 to 80 dB.
Dynamic range Limits of available attenuation range is typically between 30 to 80 dB. -
Switching time - Min. time needed to turn the device ON/OFF is typically > 5ns.
Flatness Attenuation variation over frequency range at fixed control voltage is typically between 1 to 3 dB. -

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