Embedded PXI: Wild Idea or Wild Card?

Two seemingly unrelated product introductions, one from Aeroflex and another from Teradyne, have something in common.  Any guesses?

Aeroflex is expanding its S-series family of RF benchtop instruments.  Teradyne is expanding its ICT (In Circuit Test) line with functional test cards. What these both have in common is that they are embedding PXI to deliver the added functionality.

Let’s start with Aeroflex. In the video embedded in this article, you can see the new products are bench RF instruments. Two VSGs (Vector Signal Generators) that can reach 3 and 6Ghz, and two VSAs (Vector Signal Analyzers) that achieve 6 and 13Ghz. The video touts the human interface and bench use, but the article begins by making it clear that the internals are PXI.

Now look at Teradyne. This article announces that Teradyne has created a special card for their in-circuit tester that can house up to 4 PXI cards. It is essentially a flat PXI chassis that occupies a tester slot, and can route the signals between the PXI instruments and the standard Teradyne pin electronics. This allows the ICT to perform functional test as well. The Teradyne card is actually a mini-PXI chassis. See the video here to get a better understanding. With two allowed per system, a total of 8 PXI cards can be integrated with the Teradyne ICT system.

Two different markets. Two different implementations. One common intent: leverage the expanding offering of PXI into adjacent markets. Let’s face it- bench instruments are not the ideal candidates for PXI due to lack of human interface and a challenging initial system setup. Aeroflex solved that by embedding turnkey bench functionality into a traditional box product. Similarly, Teradyne is leveraging the PXI ecosystem as functional adjuncts to their ICT play.

Wild idea? Perhaps. It’s clearly a pragmatic move by both companies. Just call it clever.

Wild card? Definitely. It’s another use of PXI that could change the paradigms. A bench product that is largely PXI- is that a modular or bench instrument? Who cares, as long as it adds value to the solution? It could be the ticket to expand PXI into a number of markets that weren’t considered top candidates for modular. The same thing goes with the Teradyne solution. Why not exploit the PXI ecosystem for mixing in-circuit and functional test?

Embedding PXI, and other modular standards, is a true wild card. As the portfolio of modular instruments increase, there will be more opportunities to leverage the ecosystem to address new segments. There are many combinations, and they may not be conventional or obvious.  The recent Agilent introduction of PXIe-based Optical Link Modules for network analyzers is another example.

Once we discard the “either-or” paradigm, that a product must be modular or traditional, but not both, we open ourselves to new possibilities. Aeroflex and Teradyne have given us two good examples.

By Larry DJ

2 comments on “Embedded PXI: Wild Idea or Wild Card?

  1. Pingback: VTI Instruments Shocks and Vibrates the Industry with a New Architecture. But What’s Inside??? | Modular Matters

  2. Pingback: VTI Instruments Shocks and Vibrates the Industry with a New Architecture. But What’s Inside??? | Modular Matters

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