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Software Links Design/Prototyping to Shorten Development Cycles

Software Links Design/Prototyping to Shorten Development Cycles

Getting Together: NI's SignalExpress links design and simulation environments with prototype testing, shortening the design cycle while permitting more extensive testing.

There is a number of tools that streamline a product's design cycle, and many instruments make it possible to measure the performance of that product's prototypes. National Instruments has unveiled software that links these two environments, making it simpler to integrate design software parameters with real-world measurements.

NI's SignalExpress lets design engineers "quickly measure and compare signals with imported design data," says CEO James Truchard. The program works with NI's LabView, as well as with a number of popular EDA packages. NI contends that verifying and validating designs has become a major bottleneck in the design cycle, one that will continue to grow as products become more complex and the competition increases the challenge of getting flawless equipment to market quickly. SignalExpress addresses this challenge by letting engineers combine design simulation data with actual measurements using a drag-and-drop environment.

The software integrates with PC-based data acquisition hardware and modular instruments, handling common development tasks, including device characterization, automated sweep measurements, limit testing, and measurement logging. Comparing the measurements with design data can be simplified by using one-click saves to move data into Excel, ASCII and LabView measurement files. The link between prototypes and EDA tools makes it simpler to set up measurement parameters directly from simulation runs, automating hardware testing. This makes it possible to perform additional tests without extending the time required to set up prototype tests. When engineers are tweaking designs, they can drive simulation runs using signals acquired in the physical world.

SignalExpress can also help bridge the gap between design and manufacturing. "Once you get to the point of freezing the design, you can use this software to move data into the production world where they're doing repetitive testing on end products," says John Pasquarette, product strategy director at NI. The software's pricing starts at $995. SignalExpresshttp://rbi.ims.ca/3856-576

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