National Instruments Aust & NZ has delivered the power and flexibility of software-designed instrumentation to new instrument types and automated test applications, further freeing engineers and organisations from the costs and limitations of vendor-defined instruments.
NI first introduced the software-designed instrument, the vector signal transceiver two years ago, which was used by Qualcomm Atheros to replace traditional vendor-defined instruments, improving test speeds by more than 200X while Hittite Microwave reduced test times by more than 30X.
NI’s latest range of software-designed instrumentation is designed to address automated test and research applications across wireless and mobile devices, semiconductor, automotive and aerospace/defence industries. The latest software-designed instruments include 14-bit, 250 MS/s, 300 MHz, 8-channel oscilloscope; 26.5 GHz high-performance RF vector signal analyser; 12-bit, 2 GS/s, 2 GHz intermediate frequency digitiser; and 12.5 Gb/s, 8 TX/8 RX lane high-speed serial instrument.
Prathima Bommakanti, industry analyst for measurement and instrumentation at Frost & Sullivan explains that providing a user-programmable FPGA can lead to great gains for the customer, enabling them to drill down into the instrument and change the performance drastically.
She adds that the new class of instrumentation enables users to modify the instrument to suit their need, a paradigm shift in an industry in which products have essentially been defined by the vendor as opposed to the customer.
NI software-designed instruments contain a user-programmable FPGA customised with the familiar graphical data flow of LabVIEW system design software, eliminating the need for specialised languages such as VHDL and Verilog, costly digital design experts or payments to instrument vendors each time a customisation is needed.
According to Christian Pfefferer, global test engineer for Valeo, requirements for RF test are constantly changing and quickly emerging; user-programmable FPGAs provide the flexibility needed to keep up with the expanding requirements in RF test, helping them meet their current RF test specifications for spectrum measurements, while also keeping them ready to address future needs.