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Joint iniative to develop synthetic instrument

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BAE Systems, National Instruments , and Phase Matrix have announced a joint initiative to develop a PXI Express-based synthetic instrument for military and commercial RF and microwave applications.

Phase Matrix is currently developing a 100kHz to 26.5GHz family of downconverter modules in a 3U PXI Express-compatible format to support PXI RF and microwave applications.

BAE Systems, a leader in synthetic instrument systems, plans to build a next-generation synthetic instrument based on the new downconverter module family, using National Instruments PXI Express chassis, controllers and intermediate frequency (IF) digitiser modules as well as National Instruments LabVIEW graphical development software for host and FPGA-based signal processing.

Synthetic instrumentation, a subset of virtual instrumentation, combines modular hardware such as upconverters, downconverters, digitisers and high-speed I/O with a software platform to create user-defined test and measurement systems.

The synthetic instrument these three companies are developing, for example, makes it possible for engineers to stream high-bandwidth RF and microwave data across the high-speed PXI Express bus directly to a processor for application-specific analysis.

Using a software-based approach with general-purpose hardware, synthetic instrumentation provides engineers and scientists with the flexibility to emulate multiple traditional instruments and add new functionality over time to support future needs and technologies.

The new PXI Express-compatible RF and microwave downconverter family complements the wide breadth of PXI modules National Instruments has developed for RF and communications applications, including high-performance IF generators and digitisers that take advantage of the high bandwidth of the PXI backplane.

"PXI Express delivers the highest bandwidth and lowest latency of all mainstream commercial test and measurement bus technologies," said Eric Starkloff, National Instruments director of test product marketing.

"The power of PXI Express makes it possible for engineers and scientists to create robust, software-defined instruments.”

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