What’s New In Mixed-Signal Oscilloscopes

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“Designers are typically forced to decode the acquired serial data by hand or export the data from the oscilloscope for post-processing and decoding. Having the oscilloscope decode the serial data can save an embedded design engineer countless hours of debugging by allowing the engineer to see the effects of both the hardware and the software in real time,” explains Saivenkat.

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“The embedded engineers often require to monitor analogue and digital signals and some protocol analysis. Rohde & Schwarz MSO offer serial protocol analysis on digital channels, which enables viewing of analogue and digital signals and protocol analysis. What’s more, RTO’s intuitive user interface helps engineers to observe all these signals easily with drag-and-drop, gestures, etc,” adds Appalla.

Faster architecture
In order to make sure that jitter, rare and infrequent events, and small signal details are visible to the engineer, a fast architecture is required that can keep up with the processing demand. This also ensures that the system gives almost immediate response.

“One way the potential of faster architecture is immediately realised, is the massive reduction in test time. With most of the processing offloaded to the onboard FPGA, and data transfers occurring over the high-throughput PCI Express bus, measurement times are faster than with traditional instruments. In either scenario, software-designed instruments that incorporate an FPGA, such as the vector signal transceiver, can result in cost and time savings,” says Shoebahmed Latif Shaikh, marcom specialist, NI India.

Appalla adds, “Application such as high-speed serial and digital RF increasingly require full system visibility to understand bus contention and other timing related issues. With Rohde & Schwarz RTC ASIC, it is now possible to view all-analogue, digital and spectrum view of signals with high responsiveness due to its hardware-accelerated processing power.”

Software-designed approach
Software-designed approach is an-other way in which things are being taken forward. Siddiqui points out, “The latest oscilloscopes give users working on mixed signals a couple of more advantages like DSO-to-MSO upgradability, wherein a mere software licence key is all that is required to go from a digital signal oscillo-scope to a mixed-signal oscilloscope. This makes it investment-friendly and saves time as well.”

“With a software-designed approach, engineers no longer have to ask “How do I make this box perform what the vendor intended?” Instead, they start asking “What do I need this instrument to do?” and easily make it happen,” adds Shoebahmed.

Combination
Instruments are being combined even further. While the MSO was initially conceived by combining the DSO and logic analyser, Agilent has further combined the function generator into some of its oscilloscopes so that an extra function generator is not required while testing. This serves to reduce the time spent on the test process.

“Many a times test engineers need to do some stress testing or check the response of the device under test by pumping some standard waveforms or arbitrary waveform signals. A function generator is normally required to perform these tasks. But with the latest Agilent InfiniiVision 2000 and 3000 X Series oscilloscopes, it gives users an optional in-built arbitrary waveform generator,” adds Siddiqui.


The author is a tech correspondent at EFY

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