There’s no question that signal integrity and resolution are critical considerations for anyone using an oscilloscope or considering the purchase of a new instrument. A particularly difficult measurement challenge occurs when there is a need to capture high-amplitude signals while still retaining the ability to see smaller signal details.
The fundamental question is whether the oscilloscope provides the acquisition flexibility needed to capture the signals of interest while removing the effects of unwanted noise. In an attempt to address this need, some oscilloscope vendors offer models with more bits in the ADC, which should in theory improve overall vertical resolution performance.
The industry standard is an 8-bit ADC and there are a number of reasons why this has remained the technique of choice. What’s more with the use of Hi-Res mode, 12-bits of vertical resolution can be achieved with an 8-bit ADC.
The inevitable question, then, is does a higher-bit ADC provide a notable improvement when it comes to reducing noise and increasing bits of resolution? To find out we compared the resolution performance of a Tektronix MSO5204B with a Keysight S Series DSOS804A that uses a 10-bit ADC and captured the results on video.
If you’re in the market for a new mid-range scope, you’ll definitely want to watch this all the way through. And for everyone else, you’ll learn some best-practice techniques for making difficult measurements. Enjoy.