For the first time in an oscilloscope, Pico Technology has used reconfigurable ADC technology to offer a choice of resolutions from 8 to 16 bits in a single product. Most digital oscilloscopes gain their high sampling rates by interleaving multiple 8-bit ADCs, but despite careful design, the interleaving process introduces errors that always make the dynamic performance worse than the performance of the individual ADC cores.
The new PicoScope 5000 Series scopes have a significantly different architecture in which multiple high-resolution ADCs can be applied to the input channels in series or parallel combinations to boost either the sampling rate or the resolution.
In series mode, the ADCs are interleaved to provide 1GS/s at 8 bits. Interleaving reduces the performance of the ADCs, but the result (60dB SFDR) is still much better than oscilloscopes that interleave 8-bit ADCs. In parallel mode, multiple ADCs are sampled in phase on each channel to increase the resolution and dynamic performance.