NI TestStand 4.1 – Accelerating Parallel Test

Publish Date: May 04, 2009 | 6 Ratings | 3.67 out of 5 |  PDF

Overview

Engineers today are tasked with testing products at significantly higher volumes and levels of technical complexity. Parallel test is an emerging trend for meeting these next-generation challenges. The latest version of NI TestStand accelerates the development and execution of parallel test systems with the new Resource Profiler which helps developers understand and optimize the execution of parallel test systems. Along with the Resource Profiler, NI TestStand 4.1 features support for multicore processors and new streamlined switch management.

Table of Contents

  1. NI TestStand Resource Profiler
  2. Multicore Support for Parallel Execution
  3. Intuitive Switch Management
  4. Integration with Tcl Scripts
  5. Streamline Large System Development
  6. Hierarchical View of Sequences
  7. Customizable Result Collection
  8. Enhanced LabVIEW VI Updating
  9. Windows Vista Compatibility
  10. Improved Advanced Step Settings Editing
  11. Additional Resources

1. NI TestStand Resource Profiler

Developers can reduce test time and increase throughput by using the new NI TestStand Resource Profiler to understand instrument use and parallel test system execution. Parallel test systems increase throughput by sharing instruments and reducing instrument idle time. The Resource Profiler analyzes test system execution and identifies instrument bottlenecks to help optimize test code and prioritize future instrument investments. The profiler displays the use of instruments and other resources in real time, as seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Resource Profiler increases throughput by helping developers understand the execution of parallel test systems.

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2. Multicore Support for Parallel Execution

Applications that do not use multicore processors forfeit most of the performance improvements that will be implemented in the next generation of processors. The NI TestStand parallel process models and autoscheduling functionality support multicore processors by running parallel tests on different threads. The operating system sends each thread to a processor core, so developers can use all the resources available in multicore processors. Using the autoscheduling functionality in NI TestStand, developers can complement the performance increase that multicore processors provide by running tests on idle instruments.

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3. Intuitive Switch Management

At the heart of a parallel test system’s hardware architecture is a switch that can share instrumentation across different units, subsystems, and test points. Developing code to control switches can be a challenge due to hundreds of points that must be connected and disconnected in a particular test sequence. NI Switch Executive 3.0, the latest version of the switch management tool from National Instruments, further facilitates switch code development with an intuitive graphical interface and Excel integration to create switch connections. As seen in Figure 2, the new route creation tool gives developers the ability to quickly create switch connections by clicking on the switch crosspoints. These routes can later be used in NI TestStand or LabVIEW applications.

Figure 2. NI Switch Executive 3.0 helps develop switch code more easily.

Click here to learn more about NI Switch Executive.

See the new features in NI Switch Executive 3.0 in this 6-minute webcast.

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4. Integration with Tcl Scripts

The new version of NI TestStand includes integration with Tcl scripts through customized step types that help test networked and electronic devices with Tcl interfaces. The Tcl step types give developers the ability to either call Tcl code stored in a script file or evaluate Tcl expressions. Information can be shared between Tcl scripts and NI TestStand by reading and writing to Tcl variables. The Tcl step types are thread-safe so they can take advantage of multicore processors and NI TestStand parallel process models.

 

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5. Streamline Large System Development

NI TestStand developers are constantly tasked with implementing large-scale test systems and frameworks that must meet the needs of current and future products. To reduce the complexity of implementing these test systems, NI TestStand 4.1 includes a hierarchical view of sequences that makes it easy to visualize the architecture of large sequences. In addition, with the customizable result collection and support for Windows Vista, now it is easier to log and report results in the latest Microsoft operating system.

 

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6. Hierarchical View of Sequences

With the new hierarchical view of sequences, developers can generate a graphical representation of all the sequence calls in a test system as seen in Figure 3. Even though subsequences add modularity to test systems, they can also add complexity to the execution flow of the test system. The hierarchical view helps developers understand the execution flow of an NI TestStand system by displaying a graph with all sequence calls starting at a given sequence or sequences.

Figure 3. The hierarchical view of sequences provides a graphical representation of sequence calls.

 

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7. Customizable Result Collection

Result collection is now significantly easier with the new additional results step properties pane. In the past, developers needed to add extra steps to a sequence or code to store additional result information during test execution. With the new additional results pane, developers can easily add any code module parameter to the result list and specify whether the parameter is a limit or measurement or whether it should be added to a report. The new additional results step provides even more flexibility by helping developers add any property or value to the result list.

 

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8. Enhanced LabVIEW VI Updating

The new version of NI TestStand includes a tool to update the prototype of multiple LabVIEW VIs and Express VIs automatically. With the Update VI Calls tool, developers can prevent run-time errors and guarantee that any change made to the VIs connector pane is reflected in the sequence.

 

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9. Windows Vista Compatibility

NI TestStand support for Windows Vista goes beyond compatibility with the user interface improvements in the latest Microsoft operating system. NI TestStand 4.1 supports the new Windows Vista User Account Control (UAC) by running the NI TestStand user interfaces as nonadministrator users. The NI TestStand deployment utility also supports the Windows Vista UAC by installing software components in user directories where they can be accessed without administrator privileges.

 

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10. Improved Advanced Step Settings Editing

The new NI TestStand Sequence Editor enhances the configuration of steps by using step settings panes instead of dialog windows. In the latest version of NI TestStand the flow control, synchronization, database, and LabVIEW utility steps also support step settings panes. With the new step settings panes, developers can select and edit multiple steps at the same time as well as automatically see the outcome of property changes on the sequence and step.

 

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11. Additional Resources

Evaluate NI TestStand by downloading the latest version. 

See the new features in NI TestStand 4.1 in this 20-minute webcast. 

Learn how to implement parallel test in this 20-minute webcast. 

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