NI Releases Enhanced Version of the All-in-One Test Package, VirtualBench

National Instruments has introduced an enhanced version of its software-based test package, VirtualBench.

Rob Spiegel

February 8, 2016

2 Min Read
NI Releases Enhanced Version of the All-in-One Test Package, VirtualBench

Bye-bye cluttered benches. National Instruments (NI) has released an upgraded version of VirtualBench, the company’s software-based test instruments package. VirtualBench was originally introduced in 2014 as an all-in-one instrument that combines a mixed-signal oscilloscope, function generator, digital multimeter, programmable DC power supply, and a digital I/O.

(Source: National Instruments)

The upgraded VirtualBench comes with 350 MHz of bandwidth, four analog channels, and Ethernet connectivity, designed to give engineers increased functionality for characterizing and debugging designs or automated test systems.

Those using the upgraded VirtualBench will still interact through free upgradable software applications that run on PCs or iPads designed to give users a unified software experience for all five instruments. The tie-in with consumer computing platforms was created to let users interact with their instruments using multi-touch displays, multicore processors, wireless connectivity, and intuitive interfaces. NI noted in a statement that “simplification and increased capability through software leads to more efficient circuit debugging and validation.”

[Learn more electronics & test trends and developments at Pacific Design & Manufacturing, Feb. 9-11, at the Anaheim Convention Center.]

One key audience for VirtualBench is the young engineer who is accustomed to digital tools. “We have users who were born when the iPhone came out. Their expectation of usability is high. Those future engineers have grown up with the consumer ease-of-use,” Jim Schwartz, group product manager at NI told Design News. “All their tools are getting easier to understand and getting more powerful. That’s driving the expectation for instrumentation tools we see today.”


For the engineers who grew up working on benches with multiple tools, the digital version of test instruments is a wake-up experience. “We also work with senior engineers who ‘like their knobs.’ What we’re finding during demonstrations of VirtualBench is that they get it,” said Schwartz. “They can solve their problems sooner, and they’re able to see it. The integration into iOS and Windows helps.”

Schwartz also noted that engineering professors have welcomed a condensed toolset that can be projected on a classroom screen. “In academia we’re seeing professors incorporating more lab work in their classrooms,” said Schwartz. “The all-in-one feature helps in a classroom where space is at a premium.”

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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