NI Increases Flexibility with Suite of 100 MS/s PXI Instruments

8/14/2003 - National Instruments announced a suite of 100 MS/s PXI instruments that increases flexibility and system performance for rapid prototyping and test of mixed-signal devices and systems. This modular instrumentation suite is matched in frequency and capability and includes four new instruments built on a common hardware architecture. The suite includes:

The new modules, combined with the company's precision DC and RF PXI instruments, are ideal for applications in consumer electronics, communications, semiconductor, military/avionics and scientific research, including digital audio and video, data converters, baseband communications, RADAR and high-energy physics.

"To maintain margins in the printer market, we rely on short time-to-market cycles and focus on managing costs. With the 100 MS/s mixed-signal test platform from National Instruments, we developed our next-generation test systems quickly in LabVIEW," said Ed Coleman, hardware engineer-consultant for Lexmark. "We used the new instruments to simultaneously increase the sample rate and measurement accuracy of our high-volume inkjet cartridge testers while preserving most of our existing software architecture."

Engineers characterizing prototypes or developing automated test systems can use the modules to achieve unprecedented system flexibility, defining their own measurements with analysis routines in NI LabVIEW 7 Express graphical development software and the new interactive NI Digital Waveform Editor. With flexible, software-based measurements, engineers adapt their systems to meet specialized and rapidly changing requirements. The instruments also integrate with third-party software simulation tools to reduce overall product development time. For example, the Digital Waveform Editor can import industry-standard VCD files from popular digital and FPGA simulation packages for test execution in LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI or other development environments.

The high-resolution digitizer, arbitrary waveform generator and digital waveform generator/analyzers are built on the new NI Synchronization and Memory Core (SMC), a common architecture for mixed-signal instrument modules. The SMC delivers a timing and synchronization engine, data transfer cores and deep, flexible memory. The architecture's synchronization engine can lock instrument modules together through a set of shared clocks and trigger signals. It uses a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) to provide a common, flexible data generation and retrieval engine to the analog and digital instruments. Engineers can generate complex waveforms and measure high-speed signals for long periods of time with the deep SMC onboard memory of up to 512 MB.

"With a significant investment across numerous R&D teams, NI developed the SMC common architecture to deliver a unique and complete set of instruments matched in frequency and capability," said Tim Dehne, NI senior vice president of research and development. "The tight integration between instruments gives engineers the freedom to build product characterization and manufacturing test systems that they can easily customize and expand as their needs change."

The 100 MS/s mixed-signal test platform increases engineers' measurement accuracy through high-performance analog, digital and timing capabilities. The 100 MS/s digitizer and arbitrary waveform generator feature low-distortion analog front ends with high dynamic range. The 5421 arbitrary waveform generator, for example, has a close-in spurious free dynamic range of 91 dB. High-resolution digitizers capture signals with increased fidelity -- 64 times the resolution of traditional 8-bit instrumentation -- and high-resolution arbitrary waveform generators provide precise standard and arbitrary waveforms needed to thoroughly characterize and test devices and systems. The digital waveform generator/analyzers provide programmable voltage levels from -2.0 to 5.5 V with the 10 mV resolution necessary for testing devices that use different levels or for characterizing how a given device performs under changing conditions. With the digital waveform generator/analyzers, engineers can shift their data relative to the onboard clock, which is critical to account for propagation delays and setup-and-hold times in the device under test.

About National Instruments
National Instruments ( is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation -- a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists approach measurement and automation. Leveraging the PC and its related technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs for customers worldwide through easy-to-integrate software, such as the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment, and modular hardware, such as PXI modules for data acquisition, instrument control and machine vision. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,000 employees and direct operations in 40 countries. In 2002, the company sold products to more than 25,000 different companies in more than 80 countries around the world. For the past four consecutive years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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