[volt-nuts] What made a HP3458A so expensive

Frank Stellmach frank.stellmach at freenet.de
Sat Jan 18 11:41:26 EST 2014


the 3458A now is in production for about 25 years , and only around 50k 
units have been sold.
(That's an estimation by Joe Gellers series number collection)

As the 3458A is a niche product with homeopathic series volume, the 
development, verification/validation, special reliability engineering, 
selection and burn-in measures, QA costs had to be paid per unit in the 

To my opinion, especially the 3458A was designed mainly for military 
requirements (Tamb 55°C). The military was willing to pay a premium (HP 
= High Price) at that time. So HP was able to realize that price.

All that development budget is long paid, and after end of the Cold War, 
the military does not order so many devices anymore, what caused the 
problems of the T&M business (finally => Keysight, urgh!).

But as that market is tight, competitors are few, so the price is not 
going down, instead it's increasing over the years, from $5900 to around 

It would be interesting to calcualte the BOM of the 3458A.
As they use many custom specific components, it should be relatively 

There is no parameter in the HP3458A specifications, that the device has 
to be powered constantly to meet the specs.
Those very high 8ppm/yr. drift might apply only during continuous 
During power down, the LTZ should not drift at all, as the ageing 
mechanism is driven by temperature.
But there might be (there are indeed) considerable hysteresis effects.

I have set the temperature of my HP3458A to ~ 60°C, I shut it down after 
usage, and the periodical comparison to 3 other references shows a drift 
of less than 1ppm/year.


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