The Solve: Debug Infrequent Events with R&S MXO 4 ‘Scopes

By Taryn Engmark

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

January 20, 2023


The Solve: Debug Infrequent Events with R&S MXO 4 ‘Scopes

Failure to identify infrequent events when debugging waveforms can cost engineering teams a lot of time and money later in the development cycle.

Unfortunately for these development teams, oscilloscopes that are capable of delivering the sampling rates and resolutions needed to capture these intermittent waveform anomalies often come at price tags in the tens of thousands of dollars — not something you’re likely to find on your average engineer’s workbench.

Currently, the typical oscilloscope with bandwidths greater than 1 GHz, 12-bit or higher resolution, and sampling rates greater than 1 GS/s have an average price tag of over $20,000. This price point is a high barrier to entry for many engineering organizations.

Signal Debugging: A Closer Look

The Rohde & Schwarz MXO (Mixed Signal Oscillator) 4 series of oscilloscopes attempts balances performance capabilities with cost efficiency by delivering a number of industry firsts, according to the company, at a price point of just under $8,500. The 16-channel, 5 GS/s ‘scopes have bandwidths of 200 MHz – 1.5 GHz and are built around a 200 Gbps processing ASIC, 400 Mpts simultaneous standard acquisition memory on each of four channels, and a 12-bit ADC that provides 18-bit vertical resolution across all an instrument’s sample rates.

There’s also a digital trigger with a sensitivity of 1/10,000 division that isolates subtle physical layer anomalies hiding amidst signals.

These building blocks support MXO 4 series capabilities, such as:

  • 4.5 million+ acquisitions per second update rate that lets development teams identify infrequent events in physical layer signals quickly.
  • +/- 5V offset range with a 500uV/div scaling provide test flexibility and low noise.
  • 45,000 FFTs (Fast Fourier Transforms) per second help engineers debug and test in both frequency and time domains.

For ease of usability, the MXO 4 series includes a full-HD, 13.3” capacitive touchscreen, VESA mounting, and a rackmount kit.

Oscilloscope Comparison

For embedded systems engineers, the biggest benefit of the MXO 4 series may be the ability to capture longer time periods during testing while maintaining a high sample rate. You can see this in action with an RF bursted pulse with a 50ms capture rate.

The precision of the digital trigger in the MXO 4 reveals events and anomalies that simply aren’t captured on other leading scopes. The ability to acquire, process, and display signals at speed simplifies the debugging of complex workflows, including math, long acquisitions, measurements, or spectrums.

When it comes to precisely debugging waveforms, here’s how the MXO 4 series stacks up against the competition:

  • 16x resolution of 8-bit oscilloscopes at all sample rates
  • Up to 100x the standard memory versus competitors allows retention of more time and bandwidth information
  • Visualization of DC and other signals with greater precision
  • 45,000 FFTs per second versus fewer than 10 FFTs per second on comparable oscilloscopes

If your engineering team requires the ability to see infrequent events over long capture periods during the testing and debug phase of your product development lifecycle, the Rohde & Schwarz MXO 4 series oscilloscopes are worth a look. They start at $8,435, or you can go here to get a quote for custom configurations.

Happy debugging!