16GHz real-time oscilloscope cuts cost of time-domain sampling

21st August 2019
Posted By : Mick Elliott
16GHz real-time oscilloscope cuts cost of time-domain sampling

Pico Technology has introduced the PicoScope 9404-16 SXRTO, a 16 GHz sampler-extended real-time oscilloscope at what it describes as “an even more compelling low price point”. The new model joins the 5GHz 9404-05 model launched earlier this year.

It is suited to repetitive or clock-derived signals, both models feature four high-resolution 12-bit channels, each supported by real-time sampling to 500MS/s per channel and up to 5TS/s (0.2ps) equivalent-time sampling.

These are voltage and timing resolutions that match or more typically exceed the best available amongst broadband real-time oscilloscopes today. 

The wide-band inputs, and fine timing and voltage resolutions, display and accurately measure transitions as fast as 22ps, pulses and impulses down to 4 ps wide, and allow clock performance and eye diagram analysis of up to 11Gb/s gigabit signals (to third harmonic).

Less than 2ps RMS trigger jitter and 5GHz trigger support margin analysis and characterisation of today’s high-speed serial data systems, whilst integrated clock and data recovery to 11Gb/s and an external prescaled trigger input extend the SXRTO trigger capability to the full bandwidth of the 16GHz model.

In addition the real-time broadband sampling modes can support, for example, capture of carrier envelope, baseband modulation and other envelope tracking signals around amplify, route and transmit paths; including major wireless communication frequency bands such as 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.5GHz and upwards.

Pico’s SXRTO instrument architecture vastly reduces the cost of broadband time-domain sampling for repetitive signal or clock-related applications.

Mark Ashcroft, RF Business Development Manager at Pico, observes that the principal cost drivers within the traditional real-time oscilloscope (RTO) are data and memory bandwidth. High-speed real-time sampling requires data bandwidth far in excess of the analogue system bandwidth, which drives up the cost of those instruments.

Constrained by cost, existing RTOs use ETS (random equivalent time sampling) to extend sampling density when repetitive signals are available.

Pico’s SXRTO architecture samples at a more cost-effective lower rate of 500MS/s and instead develops the ETS technique to achieve a sample rate multiplication of x10,000 to 5TS/s. The vastly lower-cost SXRTO architecture recognises that many high-bandwidth signals are or can be repetitive; allowing the expense of high sampling rate instruments to be avoided. 

In contrast to “sampling oscilloscopes”, the ETS technique supports trigger and pre-trigger capture and the familiarity, convenience and ease of real-time oscilloscope operation.

Pico’s SXRTO technology transitions to single-event waveform capture at sampling rates at and below 500 MS/s and both sampling modes capture to memory of 250,000 samples (single channel); particularly valuable for the capture of slower system signals, modulation envelopes and repeating pulse or data patterns, for example.

This USB-controlled instrument is supplied with PicoSample 4 software. The touch-compatible GUI controls the instrument and presents waveforms, measurements and statistics on your preferred size and format of display.

There is full support for available Windows display resolutions, allowing the inspection of waveform detail or presentation of measurements, for example on 4k monitors or projection, or across multiple monitors.  Additionally, up to four independent zoomed trace views can fully reveal 12-bit, 250 kS waveform detail.

A wide range of automated and user-configurable signal integrity measurements, mathematics, statistical views and limits test facilities are included for validation and trending of pulse and timing performance, jitter, RZ and NRZ eye diagrams.

Industry-standard communications mask tests such as PCIe, GB Ethernet and Serial ATA are included as standard. 

While most users will use the PicoSample 4 software in their workplace, for OEM and custom applications the PicoScope 9404 can operate under ActiveX remote control.

Programming examples are provided in Visual Basic (VB.NET), MATLAB and LabVIEW, but any programming language or standard that supports the Windows COM interface standard, including JavaScript and C, can be used. 

PicoConnect 900 Series gigabit and microwave passive test probes are recommended for use with the 9404, offering a range of bandwidths, division ratios and AC and DC coupling for diverse applications. The PicoScope 9404 has an active SMA interface to support future configurations and accessories on this new product architecture.

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