The AXIe Consortium approved the AXIe 2.0 Base Software Specification yesterday (November 17, 2011). It leverages highly from the equivalent software specifications in PXI. So much so, it uses PXI naming whenever possible. Here’s a summary from the Objectives portion of the specification:
The AXIe 2.0 Base Software Specification specifies the software necessary to support AXIe chassis, system modules, and instrument modules that comply with AXIe 1.0 Base Hardware Architecture Specification.
The AXIe 2.0 Base Software Specification builds on the PXI software specifications in much the same way that the AXIe 1.0: Base Hardware Specification builds on the AdvancedTCA® specifications. Specifically, AXIe software is required to substantially comply with PXI-2, the PXI Software Specification and PXI-6, the PXI Express Software Specification. This permits AXIe system software to be supported by existing PXI utilities; it also facilitates integrating systems composed of both PXI and AXIe components.
Translation: AXIe has essentially adopted PXI-2 and PXI-6 specifications lock, stock and barrel to force compatibility of the architectures and re-use of existing PXI utilities. From a software point of view, the AXIe modules are just very large PXI modules. Of course, there will be system differences, such as when controlling the timing and triggering resources on the two chassis types, since AXIe has different topologies. But even here the goal is to make them the same except when the physical differences compel them to diverge.
This compatibility with PXI should be able to enable some interesting mixed systems of AXIe and PXI modules. Right now, combined systems are configured as two separate PCIe hierarchies, such as two PCIe interfaces coming from a desktop computer. Future ones could be more intimate. For example, it should be possible to use an extender such as the recently announced NI PXIe-8374 to extend from a PXI chassis to an AXIe chassis. Alternatively, it should be possible to treat an AXIe module as an embedded PXI chassis where standard PXI instruments could be inserted directly into the AXIe environment.
AXIe 2.0 is a critical step in ensuring that AXIe truly is the big brother to PXI, in software as well as hardware. Expect to see the specification posted soon on the AXIe specification page.