1. Hybrid System Architecture
With a well-defined layered architecture, hybrid systems help you integrate newer technologies with older hardware and software, so you can upgrade system components as needed and maximize your existing hardware investment. By designing systems with a five-layer architecture, you can separate hardware from software to ease system changes. For a hybrid test system overview, see Architecting Hybrid Test Systems for Longevity and Performance. The architecture, shown in the figure, starts from the bottom and moves up.
Maximize the longevity of your systems by taking advantage of hybrid multiplatform test systems.
Device I/O Layer – This layer encompasses the individual instruments you use to meet your measurement needs. When designing test systems, choose the best instruments for your system, which, in turn, determines your ATE buses. When evaluating instruments, consider factors such as measurement functionality, scalability, timing and synchronization, mix and volume, and product life cycle.
Learn more >> Choosing the Best Measurement Devices for Your System Needs
Computing Layer – This layer contains the controllers you use to interconnect instrumentation bus platforms, such as VXI embedded and remote controllers. Different buses have different individual strengths, so you can reap performance benefits from combining multiple bus platforms. Due to the abundance of controllers available for bus platform connectivity, you can design a system with the topology to maximize your existing hardware and simplify the addition of new components. Typically, keeping a PC or PXI in the center of the system affords the best PC interface and instrumentation bus connectivity.
Learn more >> Connecting Multiple Platforms in a Hybrid Test System
Measurement and Control Services Layer – This layer includes the tools to bridge hardware and software and provides support for a variety of bus technologies through a configuration manager, hardware and instrument drivers, and flexible high-level APIs. Use configuration managers that provide an integrated environment to see all of the hardware, from various bus platforms, in the system. In addition, your configuration manager should provide diagnostic tools so that you can distinguish between hardware and software issues. Use instrument drivers to interact with the instruments through a high-level API to simplify programming. With LabVIEW and LabWindows/CVI Plug and Play instrument drivers or Interchangeable Virtual Instrument (IVI) drivers, you can benefit from bus and controller interchangeability or instrument interchangeability.
Learn more >>Increasing Test System Connectivity and Productivity with Measurement and Control Services
Application Layer – This layer is composed of individualized, modular test programs, such as a digital multimeter measurement or a power spectrum. When creating test programs, build modular test code and avoid direct ATE bus-level calls within the tests to simplify instrument replacement. Take advantage of the application development environments (ADEs) available, use existing code for some tests, and create additional programs using newer ADEs. When choosing an ADE, consider various factors including whether the ADE provides an open architecture, is flexible, and delivers platform independence.
Learn more >> Maximizing Productivity with Application Development Environments
System Management Layer – This layer provides a framework to manage the whole test system and increases productivity, maximizes longevity, and simplifies the integration of new components. Use this layer to call modular test programs written in any ADE and pass data and variables between these test programs. This layer should include tools to manage the various system user privileges, log results to databases, and generate reports.
2. System Benefits
With a hybrid test system architecture, you can replace or upgrade instruments with limited changes in a few layers instead of sifting through the whole test program to change the code. This minimizes your maintenance and upgrade impact. When developing a hybrid system, you can choose from many connectivity options available through the controller hardware and drivers to support various ATE platform connectivity needs. Select the control method for the different platforms carefully because your choice affects your ability to expand and scale your system for future needs.
Using a hybrid multiplatform system, you benefit from extended longevity and flexibility for your test system because you can maximize existing hardware and software use and still incorporate newer technologies with better price or performance. You can expand and upgrade your systems without having to redesign the whole system. And, with hybrid systems, you can simplify maintaining, upgrading, and adding components to the test system to achieve system longevity and flexibility.
Learn more >> Incorporating LXI, USB, and Other Standards into a Hybrid Test System