The introduction of high-resolution oscilloscopes is the responds to the increased necessity for more in-depth signal analysis in particular in A&D, automotive, medical and power analysis applications where it is often required to view signals with both large and small voltage details. Characterizing Switched Mode Power Supplies (SMPS) is one example. To perform accurate power measurements the oscilloscope must acquire the voltage during the off and on times within the same waveform. This requires more dynamic range than the typical 8 bit resolution can provide, since the voltage difference can be several hundreds of volts. Another example is the analysis of amplitude modulated RF signals with a small modulation index, which are found in radar applications.
When evaluating an oscilloscope for such applications, its vertical resolution is becoming more and more a key parameter to look at, besides standard parameters like bandwidth, sample rate and memory depth. The vertical resolution determines how precise signal details can be displayed on the oscilloscope and how accurate these details can be measured and analyzed.