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Mixed-signal PXI instruments

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NATIONAL Instruments has released a suite of 100MS/s PXI instruments that provides flexibility and good system performance for rapid prototyping and test of mixed-signal devices and systems.

The modular instrumentation suite is matched in frequency and capability and includes four new instruments built on a common hardware architecture.

The suite includes:

* 100 and 50MHz digital waveform generator/analysers (NI PXI-6552 and NI PXI-6551)

* 100MS/s, 16-bit arbitrary waveform generator (NI PXI-5421)

* 100MS/s, 14-bit high-resolution digitiser (NI PXI-5122)

* 100MHz clock and frequency generator (NI PXI-5404)

* 500MHz switching module (NI PXI-2593)

* Timing and synchronisation module (NI PXI-6653)

The new modules, combined with the company's precision dc and RF PXI instruments, are suitable 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.

Engineers characterising prototypes or developing automated test systems can use the modules to achieve 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 can adapt their systems to meet specialised 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 digitiser, arbitrary waveform generator and digital waveform generator/analysers are built on the new NI Synchronisation and Memory Core (SMC), a common architecture for mixed-signal instrument modules.

The SMC delivers a timing and synchronisation engine, data transfer cores and deep, flexible memory.

The architecture's synchronisation 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 analogue 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 512MB.

The 100MS/s mixed-signal test platform increases engineers' measurement accuracy through high-performance analogue, digital and timing capabilities.

The 100MS/s digitiser and arbitrary waveform generator feature low-distortion analogue front ends with high dynamic range. The 5421 arbitrary waveform generator, for example, has a close-in spurious free dynamic range of 91dB.

High-resolution digitisers 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 characterise and test devices and systems.

The digital waveform generator/analysers provide programmable voltage levels from -2 to 5.5V with the 10mV resolution necessary for testing devices that use different levels or for characterising how a given device performs under changing conditions. With the digital waveform generator/analysers, 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.

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