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NEWS BLOG: New Options for RSA5100B, SPECMONB Spectrum Analyzers Set New Benchmarks for Real-time Performance, Dynamic Range

How much performance is too much? When it comes to spectrum analyzers, the answer for some RF engineers and spectrum managers is: “We don’t know, but for now we’ll take all we can get.”

It is with those users in mind that Tektronix has introduced two new options for the RSA5100B and SPECMONB spectrum analyzers that significantly boost real-time signal analysis and spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR) performance. How much? Well let’s put it this way: Tektronix instruments equipped with the new optional upgrades now offer the world’s highest performance real-time signal analysis at 3,125,000 spectrums/sec and -80 dBc spurious free acquisitions, almost 10 dB better dynamic range than competitive instruments.

Option 300 – Industry leading real-time performance

Starting off, let’s look at the new Option 300, an available upgrade for all RSA5100B/SPECMONB instruments or as an option for new purchases. The new performance levels are ideal for spectrum managers and military/government users who must capture every instance of interfering signals and for performance oriented design customers who need to minimize time to fault when finding transient issues.

The real-time signal analysis feature set of the RSA5100B/SPECMONB leads the industry with exclusive features like density trigger, and real-time analysis of multiple domains (spectrum, amplitude, frequency and phase). While the feature set boosts usability and analysis capabilities, performance is also vital. 

For real-time spectrum analyzers, a key specification is minimum signal duration for 100% probability of intercept. This is the minimum time a signal must appear at the input of the instrument to guarantee a full amplitude spectrum display. Option 300 offers a significant performance upgrade by reducing the minimum signal duration specification to 0.434 µsec (from 2.7 µsec). This represents an increase in the spectrum processing rate from 390,625 spectrums/sec to 3,125,000 spectrums/sec. These critical specifications are about 4X better than anything else available today.

Option 300 is enabled by a new real time processing engine on a new FPGA board. The new board can be retrofitted to existing instruments by users and does not require recalibration of the instrument.  Option 300 does require the most recent version of instrument software for operation.


Option 300 is used in this example to capture every instance of a 450 ns pulse, in a 20 MHz RBW. It is the new performance leader for real-time RF signal analysis.

High Dynamic Range Options Debut

Shifting gears, let’s take a closer look at the new high dynamic range or HD options for both the RSA5100B and SPECMON B. The HD options are well suited for users who need the best available dynamic range in a real time spectrum analyzer. These include spectrum managers who need to confidently track very small signals in the presence of large signals and designers of high performance transmitters who must test devices to meet the most demanding spurious requirements.

The HD options for the RSA5100B/SPECMONB feature a thermally-stabilized pair of 16-bit digitizers, interleaved at a rate of 400 MSamples/sec. Standard instruments use 14-bit digitizers and feature the same sample rate.  As with Option 300, upgrades to existing instruments are available and in most cases can be user-installed on site without the need to recalibrate the instrument.

In terms of performance, the HD options boost spurious-free dynamic range by 5 to 7 dB compared to the standard performance of our instrument for acquisition bandwidths from 85 MHz to 165 MHz. This dynamic range is up to 10 dB better than competitive offerings, many of which are actually more expensive in head-to-head comparisons.


New HD options boost spurious free dynamic range of RSA5100B and SPECMON instruments to a best-in-class -80 dBc.

In addition to the new performance options, we’re also adding new 125 MHz bandwidth models in both the RSA5100B and SPECMONB series. This gives you the option of selecting an intermediate bandwidth instrument between our 85 MHz and 165 MHz options.

Learn more about spectrum analyzers »