Oscilloscope operating system: Have it your way with the 5 Series MSO

For anyone looking for an oscilloscope in the 350 MHz-1 GHz bandwidth range, an important consideration has historically been which operating system to choose: a dedicated scope OS or Windows. Above 1 GHz, the only option historically has been a Windows scope and if you drop below 350 MHz your only option is a non-Windows oscilloscope. It’s around the 1 GHz performance range where you need to decide between a Windows or a non-Windows oscilloscope.

But what if you want it all, the security and simplicity of an embedded operating system and the ability to run advanced Windows applications?

Now, as has been widely reported here and here to name a few, the new 5 Series MSO oscilloscope lets you have it your way. It natively runs an embedded operating system. But by simply installing a solid-state drive (SSD) loaded with a licensed version of Windows 10 Enterprise into a slot under the instrument, it boots up as a Windows-based oscilloscope. The SSD with Windows 10 is available as from Tek as option 5-WIN. From a functional and user interface standpoint, nothing changes regardless of which option you choose.

Operating under the standard, dedicated OS, the 5 Series MSO offers a comprehensive set of capabilities and software options, such as protocol trigger and decode for many serial buses used in embedded or IoT devices including USB 2.0, I2C and SPI and CAN/LIN/FlexRay to name a few as well as 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX. Advanced jitter analysis has required Windows in the past, but on the new 5 Series MSO you can perform comprehensive timing measurements, jitter decomposition, and eye-diagram analysis without needing to run Windows.

And for most embedded design applications the built-in scope OS probably offers enough analysis capability.

However, if you require more in-depth analysis the Windows option lets you take advantage of applications such as Excel from Microsoft, or MATLAB from MathWorks, and run them directly on your oscilloscope. And when you’re in a crowded lab environment and facing time pressures, it can be handy to have your desktop Windows environment – everything from email to Office apps to YouTube videos -- at your finger tips. And with it’s 15.6 HD touchscreen, it’s fair to say the 5 Series MSO makes for a pretty good computing experience. Windows also lets you use handy PC features like adding a second display to your desktop, and using Remote Desktop.

Simplicity or advanced analysis has always been a tough call. With the 5 Series MSO, it’s one you no longer have to make.

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