Most PXI chassis contain a system controller slot in the leftmost slot of the chassis (slot 1). You can choose from a few options when determining the best system controller for an application. Options include embedded and remote controllers.
PXI Embedded Controllers:
Embedded controllers eliminate the need for an external PC, therefore providing a complete system contained within the PXI chassis. These embedded controllers come with standard features such as an integrated CPU, hard drive, RAM, Ethernet, video, keyboard/mouse, serial, USB, and other peripherals, as well as Microsoft Windows and all device drivers already installed. They are available for systems based on PXI or PXI Express, and you have your choice of OSs, including Windows or Linux.
PXI embedded controllers are typically built using standard PC components in a small, PXI package. For example, the NI PXIe-8135 controller has a 1.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-3610QE processor (3.3 GHz maximum in single-core, Turbo Boost mode), up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, the option of hard-disk drive or solid-state drive, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and standard PC peripherals such as Hi-Speed USB, serial, and parallel ports.
Figure 5. The NI PXIe-8135 embedded controller features a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-3610QE processor.
PXI Remote Controllers:
Remote controllers allow you to control the system from a desktop, workstation, server, or laptop.
With NI MXI-Express and MXI-4 interface kits, you can control PXI systems directly from desktop, workstation, or server computers. You can control PXI systems from PCs through a software- and driver-transparent link. During boot-up, the computer recognizes all peripheral modules in the PXI system as PCI boards, and you can then work with these devices through the controller. PC control of PXI consists of a PCI/PCI Express board in your computer and a PXI/PXI Express module in slot 1 of your PXI system, connected by a copper or fiber-optic cable.
The MXI-Express interface kit provides a 110 MB/s PCI Express-to-PCI bridge from the PC to the PXI chassis. With the NI PXI-PCIe8362 two-port interface kit, you can control two PXI systems simultaneously from a single PC. Using a MXI-Express interface, you can create multichassis PCI systems using the star topology configuration, with either 3 or 7 m copper cables. This interface is compatible with x1, x4, x8, and x16 PCI Express slots, so you can use this option in a wide variety of desktop computers. For more information on MXI-Express, refer to the MXI-Express Series User Manual.
Figure 6. Remote control with MXI-4 provides PC control of PXI as well as multichassis PXI systems.
The MXI-4 interface kit offers a 78 MB/s PCI-to-PCI bridge from a PC to the PXI system. The MXI-4 interface kit comes with low-cost copper links or fiber-optic links for both extended distances and electrical isolation. As shown in Figure 7b, you can build multichassis PXI systems with MXI-4 as well. Using a MXI-4 link, you can implement either a daisy chain or a star topology to build multichassis systems. For more information on topologies for multichassis configurations, refer to the MXI-4 Series User Manual.
With PXI remote controllers, you can maximize processor performance with minimal cost by using a desktop computer or laptop to remotely control a PXI system. Because all remote control products are software-transparent, no additional programming is required. You can purchase many desktops, workstations, or server computers and then remotely control your PXI system using either a MXI-Express or copper/fiber-optic MXI-4 serial link. For more information, refer to the NI PC Control of PXI page.
With NI ExpressCard MXI (Measurement eXtensions for Instrumentation, you can control PXI systems directly from laptop computers through a software-transparent link. During boot-up, the laptop computer recognizes all peripheral modules in the PXI system as PCI boards, and you can then control these devices through the laptop computer. Laptop control of PXI consists of an ExpressCard in the laptop and a PXI/PXI Express module in slot 1 of your PXI system, connected by a copper cable.
Figure 7. NI ExpressCard MXI Interface Kit
The NI ExpressCard MXI interface kit provides a 110 MB/s PCI Express-to-PCI bridge from the laptop computer to the PXI chassis. You now have the advantage of mobile/portable PXI systems with laptop control of PXI. You can purchase any laptop compatible to remotely control your PXI system. For more information, please refer to the NI Laptop Control of PXI page.