Top 10 Predictions for Modular Instruments in 2012

It’s that time of the year to make predictions. As the Danish Physicist Neils Bohr once said, ”Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Nevertheless, one year from now I’ll report how well I actually did. Here are my predictions for 2012:

1. Modular instruments will outgrow traditional products by 10 points. Secular growth rate of our industry is between 4% and 5%. I’m betting on a 15% growth rate for modular, driven chiefly by PXI and some emerging AXIe.

2. Asia, and China in particular, will drive big part of modular growth.  China has the right industries and the current footprint to embrace modular. Expect >25% growth.

3. RF PXI Juggernaut continues. Expect more introductions and more customer adoptions, including microwave. This will be driven by the aerospace/defense industry and consumer wireless.  Keep an eye out for wireless semiconductor adoption in particular.  Speaking of semiconductor…

4. One “big iron” semiconductor test vendor incorporates PXI/AXIe. Well, there are only two vendors now, but I will still go out on a limb on this one. The broad functionality and performance combined with speed and form factor make this very enticing for testing mixed signal ICs as a bolt on option.

5. Modular instruments accelerate transformation of semiconductor characterization market.  Big iron is too big and expensive for this portion of the market. Boxes don’t cover the complete functionality. Open system modular, PXI and AXIe specifically, are excellent alternatives with critical mass nearly there. Expect more intros and adoption.

6. Three more companies join AXIe. This emerging standard is just starting to show its stuff: Digital, semiconductor, aerospace/defense, and now digitizers. Those applications and segments will attract more entrants.  Three more.

7. Big Physics embraces AXIe.  Expect real deployments this year.  Several reasons for this- starting with the breakthrough products just announced by Guzik and Agilent. AXIe is based on ATCA, already popular in the physics community. Also, expect someone to discover that AXIe interoperates with xTCA for Physics just fine. Higgs Boson here we come!

8. PXI software standards bring new levels of compatibility.  The PXISA technical committee is already making great progress on the new standards that move away from vendor-specific integration of chassis resources, among other things. These standards will not only unify integration of PXI products, but will be adopted by AXIe, allowing PXI and AXIe to be integrated into a single PCIe-based system.

9. One large VXI to PXI/AXIe conversion.  VXI has been the workhorse modular architecture for years, and I have a special connection to it.  VXI 4.0 will certainly extend its lifetime.  Nevertheless, the growth of modular is being driven by PXI and the emerging AXIe standard. Expect at least one VXI vendor to bring out its next generation application in PXI or AXIe.

10. More evidence of the coming disruption of modular instruments. Open modular instrumentation is not just out-growing the rest of the T&M marketplace. There is considerable evidence it is approaching an inflection point where disruptive change occurs and it becomes the dominant architecture for automated test.  There will be some event this coming year that highlights this disruptive change as the industry shifts to a new equilibrium.

For the record, none of these predictions come from any inside information I have.  However, they were all based on rigorous and scientific analysis.  Some are certain, some are wild cards.  Happy New Year.  I’m looking forward to 2012.


By Larry DJ

5 comments on “Top 10 Predictions for Modular Instruments in 2012

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