Santa Clara, Calif.—For those designers for whom bleeding-edge bandwidth, speed, and overall performance are "to die for", the Agilent Infiniium 90000 Q-Series of ten oscilloscopes may just be the ticket. The top-end model in the family offers a -3dB point above 60 GHz, along with extremely low noise, low jitter measurement floor, and advanced probes.
Contributing Editor Dan Strassberg, my colleague at sibling publication EDN, has written up this product introduction, and there's little point in me trying to out-do or even match his insight, see "Agilent Infiniium oscilloscope reaches 63-GHz-bandwidth".
But I did have the pleasure of seeing this unit in person several weeks ago. It's humbling to sit in front of such a high-end instrument, one which represents so many advanced, smoothly integrated disciplines: proprietary analog front-end ICs, of course, plus microchannels for signal pathways, combined with overall packaging, thermal design, digital signal processing and algorithms, and display and user interface, along with commensurate probes.
I asked the Agilent team the question I always ask vendors whose products truly push the performance envelope (yes, that's a cliché, but it is true here): how to you begin to verify this level of performance? Answers: a) it is not easy and b) by working closely with NIST.
In these days of mass-market products which retail in the $100-dollar range and get little or no respect from the customer, instruments such as these represent the opposite end of the performance, admiration, sophistication, and yes, price. At a starting price of around $200,000, you're clearly in a very different world than that typified by the "throw-away" devices that surround us—and yes, they too have their place and serve a vital role—but this class of product enthralls, as it tangibly embodies the sheer elegance of engineering as both a technical and artistic endeavor. ◊
[Also, if you are interested in leading-edge design as well as projects which face severe challenges, check out our on-going Extreme Design series.]