What is our primary use case?
We are measuring eye diagrams of the eyes of high-speed PAM signaling. It's the primary reference for measuring the quality of our transmitted signal, so we're using it to validate that we made the correct chip and that our circuits are working as expected.
They're 100-gigabit per second PAM-4 signals and they're enabling the data center and high-speed wireless connectivity. We're utilizing the full bandwidth of the product.
For us, the solution is targeting 5G, high-speed serial, and embedded systems. For example, in 5G, we're using the optical, we're measuring T.Q, or some fancy optical output. And for the embedded system, we're measuring the electrical performance, usually over some sort of backplane.
What is most valuable?
The user interface has never been better. They improved it a few years ago with a more modern oscilloscope interface and it's easier to use, even for more junior people in our lab.
What needs improvement?
I would like be able to measure multi-lane simultaneously. Right now, the high-performance jitter solution measures one signal. I would like to capture many at the same time.
The room for improvement is the cost. It's always too expensive. And it's an industry-wide problem to correlate the measurements with real system performance on an oscilloscope.
For how long have I used the solution?
More than five years.
How are customer service and technical support?
They have an 800 number you call and they answer it day or night. And then, many of the engineers are in my Rolodex so I'll just call them directly and say, "What's up?"
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The cost is always a struggle. We always wish that we could do more for less.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
At our particular company, there's a very decent volume agreement between Keysight and my corporation, so that influences a lot. But we also extensively use the Tektronix as well as the LeCroy.
We did do trials/demos of the products on our shortlist before purchasing and what we learned was that demos never go as expected.
What other advice do I have?
My advice would be to get the demos because everyone's application tends to be different. Sometimes it's the fixturing, or sometimes you realize some things in particular that make a difference for your needs. It's hard, just in theory, to know.
There's very much a learning curve. It's hard for me to talk about it in detail because I have used the tool for over 20 years, so as it evolves, I evolve too. Since the very beginning of time I've used many different solutions for measuring, starting off with HP then finally going to Keysight. It's always been a reference measurement method.
The solution is not field upgradable, typically. You need to buy a new one to go faster.
This product is a ten out of ten. The DCA-X is the industry standard. It's hard to get better.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.