Tektronix Oscilloscopes Review

Because it does a smart software trigger in the PAM-4 GUI, it's very easy to hook up


What is our primary use case?

I'm currently using the 200 gigasample per second real-time scope and have a 70000 Series.

The primary use case is optical product development for 56 gig PAM-4 with the ability to acquire and display at those rates. We need the 70 gigahertz bandwidth and 200 gigasample per second.

How has it helped my organization?

It is a real-time scope. Because it does a smart software trigger in the PAM-4 GUI, it's very easy to hook up. All I have to do is connect the signal, then I don't have to hook up any trigger source and worry about that dimension. So, it's a very smart, well-designed software.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are its ease of use, user interface, and PAM-4. The user interface is good and easy to use.

Tektronix has the acquisition side done very well.

What needs improvement?

In the signal integrity business at these data rates, we are always looking for higher bandwidth and a lower noise floor. Because this product is an 8-bit real-time scope, I would like a lower noise floor and have it go to a 9-bit or 10-bit resolution. That would be beneficial.

On the source side, their AWGs don't have enough bandwidth. They need to increase the bandwidth of their AWGs, meaning they have to have a faster sample rate. Though, they generally have plenty of resolution. A 100 gigasample per second AWG would be excellent.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are using the full bandwidth of the product. 70 gigahertz bandwidth for real-time scope is important. To get the step response, we need that excess bandwidth. If I wanted to get a 33 gigahertz bandwidth with a good step function, I would need that excess bandwidth so I can apply appropriate vessel filters.

They do have optical front-ends which are optional. We are taking advantage of that. In certain, very specific ways, it's field upgradable. I would imagine when they have the next product that it goes to a higher sample rate, and that'll be a whole new product.

How are customer service and technical support?

We're very lucky to have very close Tektronix support since the company is local.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In the 100 gigabit Ethernet and 400 gigabit Ethernet category, everything is in the multi-hundred thousand dollar range, so it was fair pricing because everything is expensive.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At the time that we were considering, we considered all the big players: Teledyne LeCroy, Keysight, and Tektronix. Tektronix had the best bandwidth and sample rate. The field keeps changing regarding who has the best product. It keeps bouncing back and forth. Tektronix was the best product at that time and is still a great player now.

We have seen the products at shows.

What other advice do I have?

It is a very capable instrument. It really does the job. It's in a fairly compact form factor at a reasonable power level. There's some other products right now that are huge and take an enormous amount of power, so I would still say it's a key player in the market.

The learning curve was pretty quick. We needed some hand-holding on a few items, but it went pretty fast.

We're measuring electrical signals to ICs that are in the optical modular space and out of the ICs from the ICs in the same space. The application space that we are using the solution to target is 100 gigabit Ethernet and 400 gigabit Ethernet. We are using this product to support optical links.

Real-time scopes offer abilities to see all of the signal. The alternative is equivalent time scopes. You can get an equivalent time scope with the same high bandwidth, but equivalent time scopes sample at such a low rate that we miss errors in diagnostic information. Real-time scopes sees everything. To get a real-time scope above 50 gigahertz bandwidth requires the very best.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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