CS Wong from Rohde & Schwarz Talks About the New R&S MXO 5 Oscilloscope Series

  • Chun Soong (CS) Wong - Product Manager at Rohde & Schwarz

everything RF recently interviewed CS Wong who is the Product Manager of Oscillioscopes at Rohde & Schwarz. He discussed about the newly launched R&S MXO 5 oscilloscope series, its features, and applications. Chun Soong (CS) Wong is responsible for the mid-range oscilloscopes with a focus on power electronics applications. He has over 20 years of experience in test & measurement and is considered an oscilloscope expert among his peers in the industry applications.

Q. Congratulations on the launch of your R&S MXO 5 Oscilloscope. Can you tell us more about this Oscilloscope, its specifications, and its features?

CS Wong: Thank you, we are very proud of this latest addition to our portfolio. We designed the new R&S MXO 5 series to capture both the big picture and the smallest details of electrical signals with unparalleled accuracy and speed. The most obvious evolvement for more challenges compared to earlier Rohde & Schwarz oscilloscopes: It is our very first oscilloscope with eight channels. In addition to that, it is the world’s first eight-channel scope accomplishing 4.5 million acquisitions per second and 18 million waveforms per second across multiple channels. This enables engineers to capture intricate signal details and infrequent events with exceptional precision. With digital triggering on all eight channels, it is ideal for the accurate isolation of even small signal anomalies.

Furthermore, the R&S MXO 5 offers a standard simultaneous acquisition memory of 500 Mpoints across all eight channels or double the standard memory of the competition. This ample storage can be used for extensive data capture. Another highlight of the R&S MXO 5 is the 12-bit A/D converter on all input channels. It has precise vertical resolution with 4096 quantization levels at all sampling rates so that all signal details are captured without compromise. The hardware has an 18-bit architecture with HD mode to further enhance ADC resolution.

By the way, besides the eight-channel model, there are also a four-channel models available. The instruments offer bandwidth ranges of 100 MHz, 200 MHz, 350 MHz, 500 MHz, 1 GHz, and 2 GHz models.

Q. The introduction of the MXO5 marks a new addition to Rohde and Schwarz's distinctive MXO Series. What motivated Rohde & Schwarz to develop the MXO Series of oscilloscopes, and what sets them apart from oscilloscopes offered by other manufacturers?

CS WongWhat sets the R&S MXO series oscilloscopes apart is probably the fact that they enable users to see more signal detail than any other oscilloscope on this planet. With the R&S MXO, users can see up to 99% of real-time signal activity, while competitor instruments typically show less than 1% of real-time signal activity. This is of huge value for engineers as they can quickly and better understand their designs. As a privately owned company, Rohde & Schwarz can make major investments in ASIC design which in the end results in customer-valued differentiation in both the time and frequency domains. Not being the market leader in oscilloscopes, we at Rohde & Schwarz are always thriving to evolve the usability of our oscilloscopes to new levels, meticulously designed to capture both the big picture and smallest details of electrical signals.

Q. Rohde & Schwarz unveiled the MXO4, an earlier iteration of the MXO5, in 2022. What notable enhancements or additions distinguish the MXO5 from its predecessor, the MXO4?

CS Wong: The new R&S MXO 5 builds on the same next-generation MXO-EP processing ASIC technology introduced with the R&S MXO 4. We developed this ASIC in-house, and it allows for the unmatched performance and value of the R&S MXO series. However, the R&S MXO 5 expands significantly on many aspects of the industry firsts delivered by the R&S MXO 4. As mentioned, most noticeably, the R&S MXO 5 offers models with eight channels, which empowers engineers to tackle even more demanding design challenges.

The MXO-EP ASIC Chipset from Rohde & Schwarz

Moreover, it offers a much larger, unparalleled 15.6" full-HD capacitive touchscreen with intuitive user interface which give the R&S MXO 5 oscilloscopes a seamless and engaging visual experience. Overall, users benefit from a better performance and more capabilities of the R&S MXO 5. To mention just two examples, it can display four spectrums simultaneously (see the image below), and it offers the most advanced digital trigger system in the industry, which results in the most sensitive and hysteresis adjustable trigger.

The MXO 5 Oscillioscope's Four Spectrum Screenshot

Q. Can you elaborate on how the expanded eight-channel capability of the new MXO 5 Oscilloscope will improve the testing experience?

CS Wong: To answer this, we have to look at specific applications, where engineers profit significantly from the higher number of available channels. For instance, power sequence verification is one of the first applications that comes to mind. When a device under test has more power rails than available measurement channels, repeated measurements or a second oscilloscope are needed. Either way, the measurements need to be synchronized for a complete picture of power timing. More channels make synchronization much easier.

Q. Can you tell us more about the RF Measurement Capabilities of this Oscilloscope?

CS Wong: By capturing up to 99% of real-time signal activity with the fastest acquisition capture rate in the world, the R&S MXO 5 speeds up signal analysis while detecting rare and random events missed by most other oscilloscopes. Its minimal blind time is ideal for EMI diagnostics during product design phases, helping to avoid costly redesigns during pre-production. The R&S MXO 5 is also the first oscilloscope to feature 45,000 fast Fourier transforms (FFT) per second. This exceptional speed provides engineers with outstanding RF signal visibility and enables efficient debugging across a wide range of applications.

That said, with a maximum bandwidth of up to 2 GHz, the R&S MXO 5 might seem insufficient for most RF and radar applications. However, its fast acquisition rate is definitely of advantage in this field. Through a downconverter, the DUT’s high-frequency carrier can be mixed down with a modulation bandwidth of up to the oscilloscope’s rated bandwidth. With its real-time capture rate the oscilloscope is able to record like a real-time spectrum analyzer. The recorded data can be transferred to an external PC for deeper analysis of the radar signal. The instrument’s uniform bandwidth-flatness also contributes to capturing clean pulse shapes especially useful when looking into pulse compression. Many radars also use phased-array antennas for beamforming. The oscilloscope excels here by providing a time-synchronized multiple-channel capture.

Q. What are some unique applications that this Oscilloscope enables?

CS Wong: Besides the already mentioned power sequence verification and other power conversion applications, the R&S MXO 5 series has many uses in automotive-related measurements. The oscilloscope supports automotive Ethernet and USB compliance testing along with the basic triggers for automotive buses and decoding. When designing electric drive trains, current and high-voltage probes are often needed. Here, the number of available measurement channels often imposes limits, but the R&S MXO 5 has enough current for eight active probes at the same time.

Q. What has led to the sudden resurgence of oscilloscopes in the Test & Measurement Industry? Is it because of technological advancements, new applications, or other factors?

CS Wong: Oscilloscopes remain the key tool for debugging and testing a wide variety of electronic products. Oscilloscopes continue to get new and innovative features and technology that have allowed them to remain valuable to engineers and technicians. For the R&S MXO 5 series, for example, the addition of eight channels means users can test power electronics and power management circuits where a 4-channel scope isn’t sufficient.

Q. What is the expected release date for MXO5, and how is it priced?

CS Wong: The R&S MXO 5 was launched on October 31 and is now available from Rohde & Schwarz directly or from selected distribution channel partners worldwide. The starting price is 17,000 EUR for the four-channel model, and as low as 19,500 EUR for the eight-channel model, which by the way is the lowest entry price in this instrument class. However, prices might differ depending on region.

Click Here to learn more about the MXO 5 Series Oscilloscopes