Tektronix emphasizes spectrum analysis for scopes

Tektronix is looking to upend the mainstream oscilloscope market with two significant announcements today. First, the company is cutting the prices of its MDO4000 mixed-domain oscilloscopes to bring them in line with the prices of comparable-bandwidth MSO4000 mixed-signal oscilloscopes, which will be phased out. At the same time, the company is introducing a new line of MDO3000 oscilloscopes, all of which include spectrum analyzers plus optional DVM, function generator, logic analyzer, and protocol analyzer. The upshot is if you buy a 100-MHz to 1-GHz mainstream scope from Tektronix, you get a spectrum analyzer at no extra cost.

Dave Farrell, general manager, Mainstream Oscilloscopes, at Tektronix, said the mixed-domain scopes represent the continuation of a trend that began in 1990 with the analog-to-digital oscilloscope transition. That transition was followed in the first decade of this century with the addition of mixed-signal and protocol-analysis capability and in this decade with the addition of spectrum analysis capability. Farrell said the MDO4000 has achieved double-digit year-over-year growth despite a weak market.

Mark Briscoe, a product planner at Tektronix, cited some figures illustrating the need for spectrum analysis and other functionality in a scope: 45% of the companies use a spectrum analyzer several times per month, while 15% use a protocol analyzer, 33% use a logic analyzer, 68% use a function generator, and 87% use a DVM (the MDO3000's DVM is free with product registration). Farrell added that over 40% of embedded design projects now include some form of wireless capability, a percentage that is likely to grow. In addition, even designs that don't may require spectrum analysis to troubleshoot EMI problems.

The new prices for the MDO4000 scopes range from $9,500 for a 100-MHz, 2.5-GS/s model with a 3-GHz spectrum analyzer to $25,700 for a 1-GHz, 5-GS/s model with a 6-GHz spectrum analyzer. (All models have four analog channels, 16 digital channels, and a 20-Mpoint record length.) Those low-end and high-end prices are down from $12,400 and $29,800, respectively.

The new MDO3000 models also have analog bandwidths ranging from 100 MHz to 1 GHz. Sample rates are 2.5 GS/s or, for a two-channel 1-GHz analog-bandwidth model, 5 GS/s. Record length is 10 Mpoints. Spectrum-analyzer bandwidth is 9 kHz to the analog bandwidth; an optional 9-kHz to 3-GHz spectrum analyzer channel adds $2,500 to the base price (from $3,350 for a two-channel 100-MHz model to $13,900 for a four-channel 1-GHz model). A 16-digital-channel option with a 16-channel digital probe adds $1,500. A 1-GHz, four-channel model with the mixed-signal option, arbitrary function generator (AFG), and 3-GHz spectrum analyzer costs $18,650.

Farrell cautioned that integrated scopes like the MDO3000 models won't replace dedicated performance instruments. The goal, he said, was to combine into one personally assigned instrument 80 to 90% of the functionality an engineer would need, with shared performance instruments filling remaining requirements.

Read more about the MDO4000 here and more about the MDO3000 here. Our May print and online editions will have more on Farrell and Tektronix's mainstream oscilloscope strategy.

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