Over the last few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has morphed into the trademark for a monumental shift in the field of electronic design, with processors and wireless components now routinely finding their way into analog technology. As this shift introduces new layers of complexity into the design process, test equipment has followed suit, rising to new heights of customization and integration.
Tektronix Inc., for instance, recently expanded its family of mixed-domain oscilloscopes, which can provide a synchronized view of the analog, digital, and spectral signals within IoT devices. The MDO4000C features an oscilloscope with bandwidth ranging from 200 MHz to 1 GHz, and can be upgraded with up to five other testers. These include an arbitrary waveform generator, spectrum analyzer, logic analyzer, protocol analyzer, and digital voltmeter.
Varun Merchant, a technical marketing manager at Tektronix, says that the oscilloscope was built around the growing expectation for highly integrated equipment. He adds that oscilloscope users not only want to save time using fewer instruments but also want the option to upgrade their test equipment based on changing product requirements. The average oscilloscope replacement cycle is estimated around 5 to 7 years, according to Tektronix research.
As design projects gain new dimensions, the testing requirements naturally grow. For instance, engineers building an audio speaker will require additional testers as the product evolves from analog to battery-power and through to a wireless speaker. According to data gathered by Tektronix, about 95% of engineers currently using oscilloscopes are also using digital multimeters, 76% function generators, 59% spectrum analyzers, 59% arbitrary waveform generators, and 47% logic analyzers.
Like the previous generation of mixed-domain oscilloscopes from Tektronix, the primary targets for the new MDO4000C are embedded design and debugging, power design, and EMI troubleshooting. Since it incorporates both frequency domain and time domain measurement hardware, it can also be used for testing wireless integration. With the built-in spectrum analyzer, the oscilloscope does not depend on math functions like Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) to perform frequency-domain measurements.
The core oscilloscope within the MDO4000C features a 20-Mpoint record length and up to 5 GS on the four analog channels. The more than 340,000 waveforms/s capture rate helps to find glitches quickly and mark how often they occur. The oscilloscope can be combined with the 50-GHz arbitrary function generator to load, edit, and replay captured signals, enabling engineers to recreate margin tests by adding noise to their signals.
The optional spectrum analyzer has a measurement bandwidth between 9 MHz and 3 GHz in the standard configuration, but can be enhanced to 6 GHz with an upgrade kit from Tektronix. The instrument supports capture bandwidth up to 3 GHz, while the spectrogram display offers a glimpse into slowly changing RF phenomena.
The final three options provide capabilities for testing mixed-signal designs. These include a 16-channel logic analyzer with timing resolution down to 60.6 ps and the ability to simultaneously capture multiple logic families. Also supported is an optional protocol analyzer that can measure up to three buses simultaneously with triggering up to 500Mb/s. Finally, the digital voltmeter provides 4-digit ACRMS, DC, and AC+DCRMS voltage measurements, along with a 5-digit frequency counter.
The price of the MDO4000C ranges between $7,300 and $17,400, depending on the analog bandwidth of the oscilloscope and additional options. All models include mixed-signal hardware and can be upgraded to make these measurements with a software upgrade. The frequency range on the spectrum analyzer and the analog bandwidth on the oscilloscope can also be upgraded.