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An A.T.E. Solutions, Inc. Internet Publication
Volume 10 Number 21 November 16, 2006


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This Issue's Feature Articles

When to Choose PXI Instruments

 By: 

Mike Dewey, Marketing Product Manager, 
Geotest - Marvin Test Systems, Inc.

Why Customers Choose PXI

 By:  Murali Ravindran, PXI Product Manager, National Instruments

User Instruction

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Product/Service Focus

This issue's focus is PXI Products
You can view and add to our existing list of Test Products/Services, Test Literature, Test Definitions, Test Vendors, containing "PXI"

What's New in Test

Announcements

  11/15/2006 Verigy swings to 4Q profit
  11/14/2006 Agilent Revenue Up 6%
  11/14/2006 Demand for electronics seen slowing
  11/13/2006 SMTA Names Board of Directors
  11/10/2006 Breaking The Nanometer Barrier In X-ray Microscopy
  11/10/2006 NPL to Meet on Measurements of Copper Dissolution in Pb-Free Solder
  11/9/2006 Agilent wins 2006 High-Tech Supply Chain Excellence Award
  11/9/2006 Universal Instruments cuts workforce day after sale finalized
  11/8/2006 Boundary Scan Platform SCANFLEX successfully integrated into Teradyne In-Circuit Tester
  11/8/2006 Israel's Orbotech to repurchase up to 1.7 mln shrs
  11/7/2006 Dr. Yervant Zorian Wins IEEE's Hans Karlsson Award
  11/6/2006 Tektronix to acquire Canada's Minacom
  11/6/2006 Test suite streamlines Wi-Fi certification process
  11/3/2006 Cray has adopted the SpyGlass DFT platform for its next generation ASIC projects
  11/1/2006 Winner named at BestTest.com iPod Drawing at the International Test Conference
Application Notes
  11/9/2006 Agilent Technologies Releases Free Preamplifiers and System Noise Figure Application Note
  11/9/2006 Application Note: Protecting Signal Lines Against Electromagnetic Interference
  11/9/2006 Application Note: Shield Grounding
Case Studies
  11/1/2006 How do you measure 500 GHz?
  11/1/2006 Keep the power on: Testing uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs)
  11/1/2006 Scanning the scanners - Using 1149.1 as a window to circuitry
FREE Giveaways
  11/15/2006 Fundamentals of Timing Analysis Primer
  11/1/2006 Free DC and RF Component Measurement Techniques CD
Guidelines
  11/1/2006 Troubleshooting Wire Bonding - 8 ways to lower defect rates
Interviews and Forums
  11/10/2006 Low Power Raises the Heat - low-power design and test issues
Magazine Articles
  11/3/2006 Test challenges could trump future chip designs
  11/1/2006 Accelerated Testing Raises the Bar
  11/1/2006 Color enhances inspection results
  11/1/2006 Environmental Test Takes Too Much Time
  11/1/2006 Fiber-Optically Isolated Instrumentation Application
  11/1/2006 Instruments shorten nanoscale test times
  11/1/2006 Nonstandard Time Zones - Constant Clocks Cause EMI Pollution
  11/1/2006 RF Measurement Basics for Non-RF Test Engineers
  11/1/2006 STEP 9: Test & Inspection
  11/1/2006 Testing Low-Pass Filters With Digital Pins
  11/1/2006 The Art of Measuring Low Resistance
  11/1/2006 To mux or not to mux? - Multiplexed In-Circuit Board Testers
Product Releases
  11/16/2006 RTL-To-GDSII Flow Encompasses Embedded Memory Test And Repair
  11/15/2006 XJTAG Professional Development System unveiled at Electronica
  11/14/2006 Keithley Introduces PXI Products for Hybrid Test Systems
  11/14/2006 Teradyne announces Debug Pro(TM) test programming and Debug Software for TestStation In-Circuit PCB testers
  11/14/2006 Teradyne expands TestStation scalability with UltraPin II pin board family
  11/10/2006 The migration from different test systems
  11/8/2006 16-bit PCI/PXI boards capture 3 Msamples/s
  11/8/2006 Frame grabbers support major camera buses
  11/1/2006 Agilent Technologies Introduces Deepest Memory Logic Analyzer
  11/1/2006 Agilent Technologies Introduces Industry's First LXI Class C Compliant Oscilloscope Family
Reports
  11/14/2006 PCB Industry Forecast
  11/6/2006 Union Calls for Action over Cancer Risks in Chip Industry
  11/1/2006 Machine-Vision & Inspection Test Report
Standards
  11/7/2006 Test service opens for camera-phone modules
  11/6/2006 Consortium Releases Revision 1.1 of the LXI Standard
Web postings
  11/1/2006 When to Choose VXI Based Instruments
 
When to Choose PXI Instruments

Mike Dewey, Marketing Product Manager, 
Geotest - Marvin Test Systems, Inc.

Today’s test engineers can choose from a variety of instrumentation and instrumentation platforms – GPIB, LXI, VXI, and PXI – not to mention the PC- based offerings such as PCI, USB, Firewire, and LAN.  With all of these choices, how do you go about making the right choice? For starters, if you have a test requirement, or better yet a tester roadmap, one that maps to a product or a product family’s future roadmap you can start to define the key attributes needed in an instrument or a platform for both today and tomorrow’s test needs. Choosing an instrument platform involves both technical and financial considerations. Technical requirements include meeting the product’s test needs which translates into measurement performance / functionality, test throughput, and flexibility to adapt the architecture for future unit under test (UUT) variants.
  
From a financial standpoint, the acquisition cost of the instrumentation or platform is only one part of the overall equation.  Other factors to consider include footprint – why footprint you ask? Because factory floor space is an expense, just like any other resource and in today’s competitive electronics world, all costs are scrutinized, including floor space. Other financial aspects to consider is the idea that when you buy an instrument or select a platform, you are making an investment that will probably be in use much longer than the initial product that it is testing. Therefore, it’s important that you think about your choice of instrumentation as an investment and how this investment will be used and redeployed in future years.

Why the PXI Platform
With these requirements in mind, you can begin the process of evaluating and selecting instrumentation and an instrumentation platform.  The first major decision point is whether you select a card modular platform like PXI  / VXI or a “box” based implementation such as GPIB or LXI as your system core. For a variety of reasons including both the technical and financial ones detailed above, using a card modular architecture as a system core makes good financial and technical sense. And more specifically, for the vast majority of new systems employing a card modular architecture, (exclusive of some legacy military programs) PXI is the platform choice. This is also confirmed by market data from Frost and Sullivan (World PXI and VXI  Test
Equipment Markets, April 2005) which estimates that by the end of 2006 there will be over 10,000 PXI systems deployed which translates into almost 3 times as many PXI systems as VXI systems.  

Functional Density and System Footprint:
Functional density of a test system is directly related to how much real estate a tester will require. If system footprint is a primary concern, PXI is the winner hands-down.  . PXI offers both 6U and 3U module sizes, with the 6U format equal in width to a C-size VXI module and 3U modules half the size of a 6U module.  However, unlike VXI, the module pitch is .8 inches, allowing many more PXI instruments to be installed in a rack mount chassis when compared to a VXI platform. With  3U, 6U, and 3U/ 6U platforms such as those offered by companies like Geotest users are able to install up to 19 3U or 6U instruments into a single  chassis or optionally use a combination of 3U and 6U PXI/CompactPCI cards within a single chassis. The PXI platform with its compact form factor can deliver a 3x to 10x improvement in functional density when compared to a VXI or box based solution.  

Performance:
PXI is based on the PCI bus architecture and offers a high bandwidth data bus of 132 MB/s, which allows high data throughput for data intensive / streaming applications and instrumentation with the benefit being faster test execution and throughput.  And if 132 MB/s is not sufficient for your application, you can move to a PXI Express platform, which offers bus throughputs of up to 6 GB/s…. No other instrumentation platform offers this level of performance.

Availability and Breadth of Products:
Today, there are over 65 PXI vendors producing over 1400 different products and this does not even include all of the vendors producing 3U and 6U CompactPCI products which are fully compatible with the PXI architecture [www.pxisa.org]. With this many vendors and products, you can be assured that you will have access to variety of products and vendors offering competitive instruments and solutions. This makes the PXI platform the right choice and a sound investment for anyone using card modular architectures.

Since its introduction in 1998, the growth and acceptance of PXI in the market place has been phenomenal. Even with the architecture now 8 years old, the market continues to experience health growth with an estimated CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of over 25% from 2005 to 2010 (Frost & Sullivan, April 2005). The breadth of instrumentation and switching products is unmatched by any other platform, and with PXI’s adoption of PCI Express in 2005, it is anticipated that many more users will adopt the PXI platform.  For those users looking for instrumentation that addresses both the technical and business challenges for both today’s products and tomorrow’s technologies, PXI is the clear choice.

 

Why Customers Choose PXI

Murali Ravindran, PXI Product Manager, National Instruments

Selection Criteria

In selecting instrument platforms, customers look at certain criteria, such as throughput, reliability and expected test system cost.

Higher Throughput
Every application is unique and has very specific needs. However, bandwidth and latency are two important attributes of a platform for many applications. Latency tends to dominate single-point operations, such as digital multimeter/switch scanning, and bandwidth tends to dominate data streaming applications, such as waveform stimulus/response. PXI provides high speed for a wide range of applications with both high bandwidth and low latency via the PCI/PCI Express bus as shown in this figure: Bandwidth & Latency Specifications of Industry Standard Buses.

Timing and Synchronization
Many measurement and automation applications require advanced timing and synchronization capabilities that you cannot implement directly across PC standard I/O buses like PCI/PCI Express, Ethernet/LAN, USB, and so on. PXI offers advanced timing and synchronization features to meet your application needs:

  • 100 MHz differential system reference clock

  • 10 MHz reference clock signal

  • Differential star trigger

  • Star trigger bus with matched-length trigger traces to minimize intermodule delay and skew

  • Trigger bus to send and receive high-speed timing and triggering signals

  • Differential signals for multichassis synchronization

System Reliability
The PXI specification defines requirements that make PXI systems well-suited for harsh environments. PXI features the high-performance IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) connectors and rugged Eurocard packaging system used by CompactPCI. The PXI specification also defines specific cooling and environmental requirements to ensure operation in industrial environments. Modularity makes it easy to configure, reconfigure, and repair your PXI systems, resulting in very low mean time to repair (MTTR). Because PXI is modular, you can update individual modules and components without replacing the entire system.

Lower System Costs
Because PXI is a PC based platform, it delivers the high-precision instrumentation, synchronization, and timing features at an affordable price. The low cost of PC components is only the beginning of the savings you gain from using PXI. With PXI, you use the same Operating System and application software such as Microsoft Excel and Word in your office and on the production floor. The familiarity of the software eliminates training costs and the need to retrain personnel every time you implement a new system. Because the foundation of PXI is PC technology, you benefit from low component costs, familiar software, and system reuse.

Expansion of the PXI Platform - PXI Express

PXI Express technology is the latest addition to the PXI platform. The PXI Express Specification integrates PCI Express signaling into the PXI standard, which increases backplane bandwidth from 132 MB/s to 6 GB/s, a 45X improvement. It also enhances PXI timing and synchronization features by incorporating a 100 MHz differential reference clock and differential triggers.

The PXI Express specification adds these features to PXI while maintaining backward compatibility, both software and hardware as follows:

Software: PCI Express uses the same operating system and driver model as PCI, resulting in complete software compatibility between PCI-based systems (such as PXI) and PCI Express-based systems (such as PXI Express).

You can use code you have written for previous PXI systems with PXI Express systems because PXI Express maintains complete software compatibility with PXI. Software compatibility includes Operating Systems such as Windows XP and Linux, application software such as Microsoft Office, and user code such as LabVIEW VIs and C++ projects.

This software compatibility is ensured by the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG), a group composed of member companies, such as Intel, who are committed to the development and enhancement of the PCI and PCI Express standards.

Hardware: PXI Express chassis provide hybrid peripheral slots that accept both PXI Express peripheral modules and hybrid slot-compatible PXI peripheral modules. These peripheral slots deliver signaling for both PCI and PCI Express.

Summary: PXI is the Industry Standard Platform for Instrumentation

PXI modular instrumentation defines a rugged computing platform for measurement and automation users that clearly takes advantage of the technology advancements of the mainstream PC industry. By using the standard PCI/PCI Express bus, PXI modular instrumentation systems can benefit from widely available software and hardware components. The software applications and Operating Systems that run on PXI systems are already familiar to users because they are already used on common desktop computers. PXI meets your needs by adding rugged industrial packaging, plentiful slots for I/O, and features that provide advanced timing and triggering capabilities.  To see a standard 8-slot PXI system, click here.

Related Links:

What is PXI

Build your own PXI system

 
 
Next Issue's Product/Service Focus
In our next issue of Product/Service Focus we will cover All/IEEE-488. You can add or upgrade a listing before the next issue comes out.

If you would like to include an exclusive article on how to best select All/IEEE-488, please contact LouisUngar@ieee.org.
 

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   International Conference on Data Engineering (ICDE 2007)
4/20
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5/6 - 5/10
   IEEE VLSI TEST SYMPOSIUM (VTS 2007)
5/8 - 5/10
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   12th IEEE European Test Symposium (ETS'07)
6/4 - 6/8
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9/17 - 9/21
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9/21 - 9/23
   IEEE Wireless Communications, Networking and Mobile Computing (WiCOM2007)
10/7 - 10/11
   SMTA International 2007
New Definitions
New terms added to the Test Definition section:
Delay Factor
Deserialization
Gerber Data Stream Information Interchange
Launch from capture
Launch off shift
Linewidth
Media Delivery Index
Media Loss Rate
Periphery Flip Flop
Physical Region
Shared Isolation
Undersampling
Ungroup
UnLimited Time-Resolution Analyzer Controller
Wrapper Test Access Port
We now have 2252 test terms in our Test Definition section.

Share your definitions with the test community.