You need to test, we're here to help.

You need to test, we're here to help.

25 January 2021

Situational Awareness: The Impact of the Interconnect

Fig 1. Coaxial cable has little effect on signal rise time,
but that's not true for every connection method.
How you connect a signal to your oscilloscope affects your measurements, and knowing the impact of different connection methods is an important part of your situational awareness.  

Using the same 40 ps fast edge signal we used for the risetime measurements in the last post, we’ll compare connections made using coaxial cable and a 10x passive probe, with and without different accessories.

18 January 2021

Situational Awareness: Testing Oscilloscope Outer Limits

Fig 1. 40 ps signal measured full bandwidth on a
1 GHz oscilloscope shows visible over/undershoot.
Nothing is perfect. Every test instrument has its limits, and knowing the limits to your oscilloscope’s bandwidth in response to real-world signals helps to develop situational awareness when making measurements. This is especially true when testing signals that are at or very near the specified bandwidth limit of the instrument.

The measurements we’ll demonstrate were made on a WaveSurfer 4104HD, a 12-bit, 4-channel, 1 GHz bandwidth oscilloscope that samples at up to 5 GS/s.

11 January 2021

Four Measurement Best Practices

To start the New Year right, we’re going to talk about four measurement "best practices", which will help you get the most out of any oscilloscope you have. These are important when doing any type of measurement—and you can get a good start on them simply by asking yourself the four questions in the sidebar.

1. Anticipate the results

Those who are familiar with Dr. Eric Bogatin’s Rule #9 will know this one. Before you do any measurement, anticipate what you expect the result to be, because that is the most important way of identifying if there is a potential problem. 

04 January 2021

Decision Feedback Equalization in DDR

Figure 1. A transmitted rectangular pulse suffers
distortion by the time it reaches the receiver. 
Broadening and reflections from previous
transmitted bits add to the pulse response, 
creating inter-symbol interference.

High-speed serial links such as those used in DDR4 and DDR5 are subject to a variety of signal degradation challenges.  Insertion losses, frequency dependent attenuation and inter-symbol interference (ISI), as well as others, are among the most commonly encountered sources of signal degradation. 

Figure 1 shows how reflections can cause ISI on a rectangular pulse. When a rectangular pulse is transmitted, it suffers distortion which is apparent when it reaches the receiver.  It may be broadened due to group delay dispersion because different frequency components of the signal propagate along the signal path at differing velocities. In addition, there may be echo pulses, due to impedance mismatches in the channel.  These mismatches cause reflections that propagate back and forth over the channel and appear as these echoes where subsequent bits should be.