Sampling scopes, also known as digital communications analyzers (DCA’s) or digital serial analyzers (DSA’s), are used to analyze repeatable signals at high frequencies. Most sampling oscilloscopes are similar to real-time oscilloscopes or DSO’s in that all inputs are captured then converted to a digital format before being analyzed. The design of the sampling oscilloscope allows for it to be rated to large bandwidths by essentially displaying multiple samples of a high frequency signal on an overlay of itself. These scopes are therefore application specific to a setting where a repetitive signal exists such as in communications signal analysis.
There are key specifications to a sampling oscilloscope that provide an advantage over other oscilloscopes. Besides typical larger bandwidths, a lower signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is available and provides useful for small signal analysis. Another advantage is lower jitter and higher dynamic range which results in a more accurate measurement, especially at high frequencies.