Modular sampling scopes reveal 20-GHz signals

July 02, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
At a price point of $15k, Pico's latest series of PC-based oscilloscopes uses sampling-scope techniques to characterise repetitive waveforms in high-speed serial protocols.

The PicoScope 9300 Series Sampling Oscilloscopes can perform pre-compliance tests, fault-finding, design, debug and margin testing on serial communications signals such as 10 Gb Ethernet, SONET/SDH STM64 and FEC1071, 10x Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand and PCI Express, for $14,995. These two-channel oscilloscopes will replace traditional, full-sized bench-top instruments without compromising on usability, analysis features or accuracy. Pico says they are the only compact, full-featured PC-based sequential sampling oscilloscopes on the market, and offer a unique combination of portability, price and performance. Their small size allows you to position them right next to the device under test, minimising cable losses and removing the need for expensive active probes or pull-out sampling modules. There is a built-in signal generator with 4 nsec minimum bit interval in PRBS mode and 8 nsec minimum period in pulse mode. The devices have LAN and USB interfaces, and advanced display features such as colour and density profiling, multiple trace windows, histograms and statistics.

Specifications include: an effective sample rate of over 15 Tsample/sec, 17.5 psec input rise time, dual 16-bit, 60-dB dynamic range inputs, 5 psec/div dual timebase, 14-GHz prescaled trigger bandwidth, clock recovery up to 11.3 Gbit/sec and time interval resolution of 64 fsec. The sampling rate of 1 MHz, the industry’s fastest, builds waveforms and persistence displays faster than any other sampling scope. Signal quality is characterised by typical noise of 1.5 mV RMS at full bandwidth, external trigger jitter of 1.8 psec RMS, and recovered clock jitter of 1 psec RMS.

PicoSample software has been updated for the new oscilloscopes. The range of controls has been revised and extended, with intuitive graphics, click-and-drag operations and measurement labels to simplify and speed up operation. A flexible layout allows you to devote as much of the screen as possible to your signal while displaying the controls and menus that you need. The software includes a comprehensive suite of measurement and analysis functions: 61 math functions,