New Advances in Oscilloscope Technology

Question: What are some new advances in oscilloscope technology?

Answer: Besides making scopes faster, wider, deeper, there are many new capabilities in scope performance and time-saving features. For example digital storage oscilloscopes have traditionally been used for physical layer testing of AC/DC parametric measurements such as rise time, voltage swing, high/low values, etc. However with the wide adoption of mainstream buses like I2C and USB many scope now have built-in decode capability. In fact the new Tektronix MSO70000 mixed signal scopes have 20 GHz bandwidth across 4 channels as well as an integrated 16 high speed digital acquisition system. This allows for isolation of faults that occur only during specific bus cycles like a read or write cycle (DDR3 memory) or for monitoring of a wideband RF system that incorporates digital subsystems and controls like SPI or I2C.

Isolating faults during Read or Write cycles on a Mixed Signal Oscilloscope

Triggering on a Read Burst

Often, while monitoring signals in the digital domain, it’s important to be able to view the same signals in the analog domain as well. Maybe there is a glitch or some crosstalk that is causing an error on the bus or other digital problem. The next step would be to get an analog probe and probe the same point (double probe). While most new high bandwidth probes have lower loading than before this is inefficient and can still add some non-negligble loading to the bus. Some recent advances in scope architecture now allow for simultaneous signal acquisition in both the digital and analog domain, with a single probe. This is possible through an internal multiplexer technology called iCapture. Below are some examples of how this is done. For an interesting read check out the article “Twelve Things You Didn’t Know a Scope Could Do”  (please be patient–the PDF might take a few moments to download).

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Explore posts in the same categories: Ask Scope Guru Q/A, High Speed Buses

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