Rohde & Schwarz enters scope market plans to be number one

Rohde & Schwarz has entered the oscilloscope market with a long-term ambition to be the world's leading supplier.

Frank Mackel, managing director of Rohde & Schwarz UK, told a conference on the future of wireless held in Cambridge this week that the privately-held company's owners had set its board the challenge of growing the business by at least 10 per cent a year.

"The question is how to achieve that?" said Mackel. "Oscilloscopes are the missing part of the puzzle, with a market size of $1bn which is very interesting to us, although we haven't entered it to date.

"Five years ago we decided to get into the market to compete with three US companies [Tektronix, HP and Le Croy] who between them account for 80% of sales.

"In the long run we want to be number one."

Mackel claims his company has rethought the oscilloscope, including a touch screen interface to make it "much more like an iPhone".

The company is launching two product families and six instruments.

The R&S RTO family of scopes is available with bandwidths of 1GHz or 2GHz, a choice of two or four channels and a maximum sampling rate of 10Gsample/s.

“Our focus here is on high speed and optimum signal fidelity – two hugely important factors in real-life applications,” said Josef Wolf, director of the oscilloscopes subdivision. “These characteristics, combined with our groundbreaking touch-screen interface for ease of use, enables users to accomplish even complex test and measurement tasks in a minimum of time.”

The RTO scopes can analyse one million waveforms per second, and have a digital trigger system that minimises trigger jitter.

R&S argues that conventional scopes only capture signals for 0.5 per cent of the acquisition cycle, spending the rest of their time storing, processing and displaying data while any errors occurring in the meantime go undetected. The company says it is addressing the issue by increasing the acquisition time to 10 per cent of the cycle, using an ASIC to process results in real time.

It has also taken a new approach with the trigger system. It says conventional analogue trigger systems struggle with the time and amplitude offset between the analogue trigger path and the digital signal acquisition path, limiting the instrument’s accuracy.

With the digital trigger used in these scopes, the trigger and the captured data share a common signal path and time base, reducing trigger jitter. The trigger also resets immediately after a trigger event so that signal faults are not missed.

R&S also says its single-core 8bit A/D converter can be more accurate than using several slower A/D converters working in parallel with time offset.

The scopes have a touch-screen user interface with semitransparent dialogue boxes, movable measurement windows, configurable toolbar, and preview icons with live waveforms.

The second family of scopes, the RTM series, is meant for universal applications wherever electrical signals need to be measured.

“In research, in schools or in hobbyist labs – everyone needs oscilloscopes,” says Wolf. This is why Rohde & Schwarz is offering scopes with solid features at an outstanding price/performance ratio in the midrange segment up to 500MHz."

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