Modular Instrument Family Boosts Test Speeds

DN Staff

September 10, 2009

2 Min Read
Modular Instrument Family Boosts Test Speeds

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A new high-speed software-based instrumentation platform promises to boost test and measurement speed by a factor of at least five times over traditional instruments.

Developed by National Instruments (NI) and called the 6.6 GHzRF Modular Instruments family, the new product combines multicore computingwith a high-speed computer bus to enable manufacturers to quickly test RF-basedproducts ranging from cell phones to vehicle key fobs to garage door openers.The new family's exceptional speed could enable manufacturers of commodityproducts, such as cell phones, to dramatically boost production.

"In an automated test environment, one second can translateto thousands or even tens of thousands of units produced per day," says RichardMcDonnell, automated test senior group manager for NI.

The new computer-based, software-defined instruments includethe PXIe-5663 vector signal analyzer, PXIe-5673 vector signal generator and thePXIe-1075 18-slot high-bandwidth chassis.

NI engineers say the key reasons for the higher speeds aretwofold: The new instruments run on a multicore-based graphical test platformcalled LabVIEW; and the instruments transfer data across the 1-GByte per secondPXI Express bus.

The ability to run on multiple processor cores and send dataacross a high speed bus endows the new modular instrument family with speed fargreater than that of its traditional competitiors, NI says. It can perform manyindividual WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) measurements morethan 20 times faster than traditional instruments. Similarly, full WCDMA devicecharacterizations are up to five times faster, NI says.

Because the modular instrument family is software defined, itcan also be used to test virtually any device that's within its 6.6-GHz speedrange. In contrast, traditional hardware-defined test systems are typicallydedicated to specific devices or standards. NI engineers say that the 6.6 GHzRF Modular Instruments family is already being employed in testing of GPS-basedproducts, wireless LANs (wireless local area networks), WiMax (worldwideinteroperability for microwave access) products, and a multitude of otherelectronic standards and applications, including vehicle key fobs and garagedoor openers.

"If you want to test the GPS, wireless LAN and WiMaxcapability of a wireless phone, you only need this one product, and you cantest all of them on the same piece of equipment," McDonnell says.

National Instruments

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