Agilent Technologies N5454A
Segmented Memory Acquisition
for Agilent InfiniiVision Series
Data Sheet
Capture more signal detail with
less memory using segmented
memory acquisition
• Optimized acquisition memory
• Capture up to 2000 successive
waveform segments
• Fast re-arm time
• Down to 250 ps time-tag resolution
• Segments include all analog and digital
channels of acquisition
• Segments include serial bus decoding
If the signals that you need to capture
have relatively long idle times between
low-duty-cycle pulses or bursts of
signal activity, then the segmented
memory option for Agilent’s
InfiniiVision Series oscilloscopes can
optimize your scope’s acquisition
memory, allowing you to capture
more selective signal details with less
memory. With segmented memory,
the scope’s acquisition memory
(up to 8 M points) is divided into
multiple smaller memory segments.
This enables your scope to capture
up to 2000 successive single-shot
waveforms with a very fast re-arm
time — without missing any important
signal information.
After a segmented memory acquisition
is performed, you can easily view
all captured waveforms overlaid in
an infinite-persistence display and
quickly scroll through each individual
waveform segment. And with a
minimum 250 picosecond time-tagging
resolution, you will know the precise
time between each captured waveform
segment. Common applications for this
type of oscilloscope acquisition include
high-energy physics measurements,
laser pulse measurements, radar burst
measurements, and packetized serial
bus measurements.
Even in applications that don’t
actually require segmented memory
acquisition to optimize memory, using
segmented memory acquisition on
Agilent’s InfiniiVision oscilloscopes
can enhance post-analysis navigation
through low-duty-cycle signals, burst
signals, and serially packetized signals.
And Agilent’s InfiniiVision Series
oscilloscopes are the only scopes
in the industry that not only provide
segmented memory acquisitions
simultaneously on all analog channels
(up to four analog channels) and logic
channels (up to 16 digital channels)
of acquisition, but they also are the
only scopes that provide hardwarebased serial decoding on packetized
serial data for each captured waveform
High-energy physics and laser pulse applications
Segmented memory acquisition
in an oscilloscope is commonly
used for capturing electrical pulses
generated by high-energy physics
(HEP) experiments, such as capturing
and analyzing laser pulses. With
segmented memory acquisition,
the scope is able to capture every
consecutive laser pulse (up to a
maximum of 2000 pulses), even if the
pulses are widely separated.
Figure 1 shows the capture of 300
successive laser pulses with a pulse
separation time of approximately 12
µs and an approximate pulse width
of 3.3 ns. All 300 captured pulses are
displayed in the infinite-persistence
gray color, while the current selected
segment is shown in the channel’s
assigned color (yellow for channel 1).
Note that the 300th captured pulse
occurred exactly 3.62352380 ms after
the first captured pulse, as indicated
by the segment time-tag shown in the
lower left-hand region of the scope’s
display. With the scope sampling
at 4 GSa/s, capturing this amount
of time would require more than 14
Megapoints of conventional acquisition
memory. If these laser pulses were
separated by 12 ms, the amount of
conventional acquisition memory to
capture nearly 4 seconds of continuous
acquisition time would be more than
14 Gigapoints. Unfortunately, there
are no oscilloscopes on the market
today that have this much acquisition
memory. But since segmented memory
only captures a small and selective
segment of time around each pulse
while shutting down the scope’s
digitizers during signal idle time,
Agilent’s InfiniiVision scopes can
easily capture this much information
using just 8 Megapoints of memory.
Figure 1: Segmented memory acquisition captures 300 consecutive laser
pulses for analysis.
A similar high-energy physics
application involves the measurement
of energy and pulse shapes of signals
generated from subatomic particles
flying around an accelerator ring
(particle physics). Assuming that
sub-atomic particles have been slung
around a 3-km accelerator ring at a
speed approaching the speed of light
(299,792,458 meters/sec), electrical
pulses generated at a single detector
at one location along the 3-km ring
would occur approximately every
10 µs. With segmented memory, you
can easily capture, compare and
analyze successive pulses generated
by the subatomic particles with precise
Radar and sonar burst applications
Engineers often require
segmented memory acquisition
mode in an oscilloscope when
they measure radar and/or
sonar bursts. Figure 2 shows
an example where we captured
725 consecutive 50-MHz RF
burst signals using an Agilent
InfiniiVision scope’s segmented
memory acquisition mode.
Engineers often need to compare
sent and received signals and
compare signal degradation from
echo signals. These types of RF
burst applications also require
precise time-tagging in order to
accurately compute distances.
Distance and time between
bursts can often be very long, for
example, when you are analyzing
satellite communications. If a
satellite is located 100 miles
in space away from an Earth
transmitter/receiver station,
a radar echo time (more than
200 miles round trip) would be
approximately 1.07 ms. Using
the 50-MHz RF burst shown in
Figure 2, you could easily capture
725 consecutive bursts separated
by 1.07 ms using segmented
memory. Capturing this much
time (775 ms) using conventional
oscilloscope acquisition at 1
GSa/s would require nearly
1 Gigapoints of acquisition
memory. But with the segmented
memory option in Agilent’s
InfiniiVision Series oscilloscopes,
capturing this amount of signal
data can be accomplished with
just 8 Mega points of acquisition
Figure 2: Capturing consecutive RF bursts with precise time-tagging using
segmented memory
Mixed-signal and serial bus applications
Serial bus measurements are another
application area where segmented
memory acquisition is useful. You can
optimize the number of packetized
serial communication frames that
can be captured consecutively by
selectively ignoring (not digitizing)
unimportant idle time between frames.
As mentioned earlier, Agilent’ s
InfiniiVision Series oscilloscopes are
the only scopes on the market today
that not only can acquire segments
of up to four analog channels of
acquisition, but also can capture
time-correlated segments on digital
channels of acquisition (using an MSO
model), along with hardware-based
serial bus protocol decoding. The
segmented memory option on Agilent’s
InfiniiVision Series oscilloscopes is
compatible with all of the following
serial bus triggering and decoding
• I2C/SPI (N5423A or Option LSS)
• RS-232/UART (N5457 or Option 232)
• CAN/LIN (N5424A or Option AMS)
To illustrate how segmented memory
acquisition can enhance serial bus
measurements, we will examine a
mixed-signal automotive CAN bus
measurement application. Figure 3
shows a CAN bus measurement with
the scope set up to trigger on every
start-of-frame (SOF) condition. Using
this triggering condition with the
segmented memory acquisition mode
turned on, the scope easily captures
Figure 3: Capturing 1000 consecutive decoded CAN frames using
segmented memory.
1000 consecutive CAN frames for a
total acquisition time of 2.4 seconds.
After acquiring the 1000 segments/
CAN frames, we can easily scroll
through all frames individually to look
for any anomalies or errors. In addition,
we can easily make latency timing
measurements between frames using
the segmented memory’s time-tagging.
Also note that in this measurement
example, eight time-correlated digital
channels were acquired along with the
analog CAN signal and decoding.
Mixed-signal and serial bus applications
Figures 4a and 4b show examples
of capturing 1000 consecutive
remote frames and data frames with
the ID code of 07FHEX. This was
accomplished by setting the trigger
condition to trigger on either remote
or data frames with this specific frame
ID. Now we can easily measure the
timing latency between each remote
transfer request frame with a frame
ID of 07FHEX and its associated data
frame response with the same frame
ID. In this measurement example, the
latency between segment #1 (remote
frame) and segment #2 (data frame)
was 4.821 ms. Also note that although
not shown, the time-tag on the last
captured segment (segment #1000)
was approximately 9.5 seconds.
Capturing this much time using
conventional oscilloscope acquisition
memory at this sample rate (~4 MSa/
s) would require 38 Megapoints of
Figure 4a: Remote frame 07FHEX captured as segment #1 has a
default time-tag of 0.0 s.
Figure 4b: Data frame 07FHEX captured as segment #2 indicates a
timing latency of 4.822 ms.
Mixed-signal and serial bus applications (continued)
While scrolling through the various
segments/frames, we could see
that error frames were occurring
randomly. So the next step in this
CAN measurement application was to
capture and store only error frames.
To do this, we set up the scope’s
triggering to trigger specifically on
any occurrence of any error frame,
regardless of its ID code. Figure 5
shows how the segmented memory
acquisition mode captured 500
consecutive error frames with a
total capture time (time-tag of the
segment #500) of more than 60
seconds. Capturing this many frames
at this sample rate (~9 MSa/s) using
conventional oscilloscope memory
would require more than 0.5 Gigabyte
of acquisition memory. But with
the segmented memory option, our
InfiniiVision oscilloscope was able
to capture more than 60 seconds
of selective signal detail using its 8
Megapoints of memory
Figure 5: Segmented memory captures 500 consecutive CAN
frames over a 60-second time span.
Once we have captured consecutive
CAN error frames, we can easily dial
through all of the individual frames
to discover why these errors might
be occurring. In this measurement
example, we can see that segment
#471 was an error frame with a data
frame ID code of 07FHEX. After close
inspection of the analog waveform
associated with this decoded frame,
we can now see why the error frame
occurred. Note the narrow glitch near
the end of this frame.
Performance characteristics
Compatible scope models
All DSO/MSO 7000 Series oscilloscopes
All DSO/MSO 6000A Series oscilloscopes
All DSO/MSO 6000L Series oscilloscopes
All DSO5000 Series oscilloscopes
Segment source
Analog channels 1 and 2 (on two-channel DSO models)
+ Analog channels 3, and 4 (on four-channels DSO models)
+ Digital channels D0 – D15 (on MSO models)
+ Serial decode (on four-channel models with serial decode options)
Number of segments
1 to 2000 (6000 and 7000 Series)
1 to 250 (5000 Series)
Minimum segment size
500 points (+ Sin(x)/x reconstructed points on faster timebase settings)
Re-arm time
8 µs (minimum time between trigger events)
Maximum sample rate
4 GSa/s (on 1-GHz and 500-MHz bandwidth models)
2 GSa/s (on 300-MHz and below bandwidth models)
Time-tag resolution
Down to 250 ps (on 1-GHz and 500-MHz bandwidth models)
Down to 500 ps (on 300-MHz and below bandwidth models)
Ordering Information
The N5454A segmented memory
option is compatible with all
Agilent InfiniiVision Series
oscilloscopes (5000, 6000, and
7000 Series scopes). This option
is available as a factory-installed
option if ordered as Option-
SGM along with a specific
oscilloscope model, or existing
InfiniiVision Series oscilloscope
users can order this option as an
after-purchase product upgrade
Model number –
Option number –
user installed
factory installed
Segmented memory
I2C/SPI serial decode option (4 and 4+16 channel
models only)
CAN/LIN automotive triggering and decode (4 and 4+16
channel models only)
RS-232/UART triggering and decode (4 and 4+16 channel
models only)
Note that additional options and accessories are available for Agilent InfiniiVision Series oscilloscopes. Refer to the appropriate
5000, 6000, or 7000 Series data sheet for ordering information about these additional options and accessories, as well as ordering
information for specific oscilloscope models.
Related Agilent literature
Publication title
Agilent Technologies Oscilloscope Family Brochure
Agilent 7000 Series InfiniiVision Oscilloscopes
Agilent 6000 Series InfiniiVision Oscilloscopes
Agilent 5000 Series InfiniiVision Oscilloscopes
Agilent InfiniiVision Series Oscilloscope Probes and
I2C and SPI triggering and hardware-base decode for
Agilent InfiniiVision Series Oscilloscopes (N5423A)
RS-232/UART triggering and hardware-based decode for
Agilent InfiniiVision Series Oscilloscopes (N5457A)
CAN/LIN Measurements (Option AMS) for Agilent's
InfiniiVision Series Oscilloscopes
Evaluating Oscilloscopes for Best Signal Visibility
Debugging Embedded Mixed-Signal Designs Using
Mixed Signal Oscilloscopes
Using an Agilent InfiniiVision MSO to Debug an
Automotive CAN Bus
Choosing an Oscilloscope with the Right Bandwidth
for your Applications
Evaluating Oscilloscope Sample Rates vs.
Sampling Fidelity
Evaluating Oscilloscope Vertical Noise Characteristics
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Agilent’s InfiniiVision lineup includes 5000, 6000 and 7000 Series oscilloscopes. These share a number of advanced hardware and
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Agilent’s InfiniiVision oscilloscope portfolio offers:
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Revised: October 24, 2007
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© Agilent Technologies, Inc. 2009
Printed in USA, September 1, 2009