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Functional Overview

This chapter provides the overview of the features provided by the HDAWG Instrument. The first section contains the description of the graphical overview and the hardware and software feature list. The next section details the front panel and the back panel of the measurement instrument. The following section provides product selection and ordering support.


The HDAWG Instrument consists of several internal units that process digital data (light blue color) and several interface units processing analog signals (dark blue color). The front panel is depicted on the left-hand side and the back panel is depicted on the right-hand side. The arrows between the panels and the interface units indicate selected physical connections and the data flow. Information indicated in orange is linked to options that can be either ordered at purchase or upgraded later. The HDAWG Arbitrary Waveform Generator comes in two model variants, the HDAWG4 (4 channels) and the HDAWG8 (8 channels). Ordering Guide details the available upgrade options for each instrument type and whether the corresponding option can be upgraded directly in the field.

Figure 1: HDAWG instrument functional diagram

The Arbitrary Waveform Generator (AWG), consists of Sequencer to define pulse sequences, and a Waveform Player that selects which waveforms should be played from the Waveform Memory. The output of a single Arbitrary Waveform Generator connects to two analog front-ends. Before the signals are being played, the may be digitally modulated by numerical oscillators that generate sinusoids, or pre-distorted in real-time with the HDAWG-PC option before. Hardware trigger signals and experiment data, e.g. to realize timing synchronization within the instrument or communicate with external equipment, can be accessed through shared communications (32-bit DIO, ZSync).

Wave outputs

  • 2.4 GSa, 16 bit
  • 2 marker bits per channel (1 output on front panel)
  • Direct and amplified output
  • Dynamic sampling rate
  • Switchable output filter

Arbitrary Waveform Generator

  • Efficient Pulse-level Sequencing
  • LabOne® AWG Sequencer and Compiler
    • Flexible channel grouping 1x8, 2x4, 4x2
  • Parametric pulse description
    • Pulse description in Command Table
    • Waveform-independent amplitude, frequency and phase control
  • Up to 500 MSa waveform memory per channel
  • Waveform memory saving features
    • Flexible digital modulation
    • Modulation at multiple frequencies (with MF-option)
  • Digital pulse predistortion through programmable IIR and FIR filters

High-speed Connectivity

  • LAN 1 Gbit/s interface
  • USB 3.0 high-speed host interface
  • 32-bit Digital Input and Output (DIO) port
  • ZSync connection for clock synchronization and fast data transfer


  • LabOne Graphic User Interface: Web-based with multi-instrument control
  • Zurich Instruments LabOne Q software for high-level programming of quantum computing experiments.
  • Data server with multi-client support
  • LabOne APIs, including Python, C, LabVIEW, MATLAB, .NET
  • Turnkey software and firmware features for fast system tune-up

Front Panel Tour

The front panel SMA connectors and control LEDs are arranged as shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3 and listed in .

Figure 2: HDAWG4 Arbitrary Waveform Generator front panel

Figure 3: HDAWG8 Arbitrary Waveform Generator front panel

Table 1: HDAWG Instrument front panel description
Position Label / Name Description
A power button with incorporated status LED
  • steady glow: the instrument has an active connection over USB or Ethernet
  • blinking slowly (<1/sec): the instrument is ready to connect
  • blinking rapidly (>1/sec): the instrument firmware is starting up or shutting down, or a firmware upgrade is in progress
  • dim glow: the instrument is shut down and can be poweredoff using the rear panel switch, or restarted using the soft power button/li>
B Trig TLL trigger input
C Mark TTL marker output
D Wave single-ended waveform signal output
E n/a this multi-color LED indicates that the associated Wave output is actively driven by the instrument.
  • output enabled, amplified output
  • output enabled, direct output
  • running pattern: the instrument firmware has started up correctly
  • blinking pattern: indicator used by the Identify Device functionality, or to signal a device error

1 On some instruments, the color of the soft power button LED is blue in these states.

Back Panel Tour

The back panel is the main interface for power, control, service and connectivity to other ZI instruments. Please refer to Figure 4 and for the detailed description of the items.

Figure 4: HDAWG Instrument back panel

Table 2: HDAWG Instrument back panel description
Position Label / Name Description
A Reference Clk In reference clock input (10 MHz) for synchronization with other instruments
B Reference Clk Out reference clock output (10 MHz) for synchronization with other instruments
C Sample Clk In sample clock input for external control of the DAC sample clock
D Sample Clk Out sample clock output
E ZSync inter-instrument synchronization bus connector
Attention: this is not an Ethernet plug, connection to an Ethernet network might damage the instrument.
F LAN 1GbE 1 Gbit LAN connector for connection to the host computer
G DIO 32bit / Marker 32-bit digital input/output connector
H AC 100 - 240 V power inlet, fuse holder, and power switch
I 4 mm banana jack connector for protective earth (PE) ground, electrically connected to the chassis and the earth pin of the power inlet
J MDS 1 bidirectional TTL port for multi-device synchronization
K MDS 2 bidirectional TTL port for multi-device synchronization
L USB Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.0 port for connection to the host computer

Ordering Guide

Table 3 provides an overview of the available HDAWG products. Upgradeable features are options that can be purchased anytime without need to send the Instrument to Zurich Instruments.

Table 3: HDAWG Instrument product codes for ordering
Product code Product name Description Field upgrade possible
HDAWG4 HDAWG4 Arbitrary Waveform Generator base 4-channel arbitrary waveform generator -
HDAWG4-CNT HDAWG4-CNT Pulse Counter option for HDAWG4 yes
HDAWG4-MF HDAWG4-MF Multi-frequency option for HDAWG4 yes
HDAWG4-ME HDAWG4-ME Memory Extension option for HDAWG4 yes
HDAWG4-PC HDAWG4-PC Real-time Precompensation option for HDAWG4 yes
HDAWG4-SKW HDAWG4-SKW Output Skew Control option for HDAWG4 no1
HDAWG8 HDAWG8 Arbitrary Waveform Generator base 8-channel arbitrary waveform generator -
HDAWG8-CNT HDAWG8-CNT Pulse Counter option for HDAWG8 yes
HDAWG8-MF HDAWG8-MF Multi-frequency option for HDAWG8 yes
HDAWG8-ME HDAWG8-ME Memory Extension option for HDAWG8 yes
HDAWG8-PC HDAWG8-PC Real-time Precompensation option for HDAWG8 yes
HDAWG8-SKW HDAWG8-SKW Output Skew Control option for HDAWG8 no1
HDIQ IQ Modulator 4 channel IQ modulator, accessory for HDAWG4 and HDAWG8 yes

1 The HDAWG-SKW option can not be upgraded in the field. It is only available at the time of purchase of the HDAWG instrument.

Table 4: Product selector HDAWG
Number of AWG channels 8 8 8 8
Amplitude Modulation mode yes yes yes yes
Sequencing yes yes yes yes
Direct and amplified output modes yes yes yes yes
Variable sampling rate yes yes yes yes
Sine generators1 8 32 32 32
Oscillators1 4 16 16 16
Multi-device synchronization yes yes yes yes
Multi-frequency modulation no yes yes yes
Digital IQ modulation yes yes yes yes
Waveform memory per channel 64 MSa 64 MSa 500 MSa 500 MSa
Number of pulse counters1 - - - 8
Sampling rate 2.4 GSa/s yes yes yes yes
Marker bits1 16 16 16 16
Vertical resolution 16 bit yes yes yes yes
Frequency range 750 MHz 750 MHz 750 MHz 750 MHz
USB 3.0 yes yes yes yes
LAN 1 Gbit/s yes yes yes yes

1 Numbers in these lines are divided by 2 in for the HDAWG4 4-channel model variant.

When using the HDAWG and the UHFQA in a Zurich Instruments Quantum Computing Control System, the two instruments need to be connected with a VHDCI cable between their respective DIO ports. Due to the different voltage levels of the DIO connectors on the HDAWG and UHFQA, a passive voltage level shifter needs to be placed in series with the VHDCI connection. It is furthermore recommended to use a mechanical stabilization of the VHDCI connection on the HDAWG side in order to prevent damage to the DIO connector due to cable pull. A set of a VHDCI cable, a level shifter, and a mechanical stabilization part are available as DIO Link Set from Zurich Instruments upon request under

The DIO Link Set is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: DIO link set

Please follow the instructions below in order to install the DIO Link Set between the HDAWG and the UHFQA.

  1. Fix the DIO level shift fixture anchor to the DIO connector on the UHFQA using the screws already installed on the UHFQA DIO port.
  2. Fix the DIO level shifter fixture to the anchor using the two M3*10 mm screws.
  3. Clamp the DIO fixture (slider and body) lightly to one of the connectors of the VHDCI cable using the two M4*10 mm screws. This side of the cable is to be connected to the HDAWG.
  4. Connect the VHDCI cable between the DIO level shifter fixture and the DIO port on the HDAWG and tighten the manual screws on both VHDCI connectors.
  5. Push the DIO fixture (slider and body) firmly towards the HDAWG casing and tighten the two M4*10 mm screws to increase the mechanical stability of the VHDCI cable connection.