Through MXI-Express technology, PXI Remote Control Modules provide a simple, transparent connection between a PXI chassis and a host machine (for example, a laptop, workstation, rack-mount controller, or desktop PC). To control a PXI chassis from a desktop or rack-mount PC, a PXI Remote Control Module must be placed in the system slot of the PXI chassis and a host interface card must be used in the host PC. This allows the host computer to establish a PCI or PCI Express connection to the chassis using a compatible MXI-Express cable.
When the host machine controlling the PXI chassis is a laptop PC, the PXIe-8301 remote control module must be placed in the system slot of the PXI chassis. The PXIe-8301 and laptop must be connected using a Thunderbolt 3 cable, whether the cable is passive or active. Note that unlike desktop or rack-mount control, laptop control of PXI simply uses a Thunderbolt 3 cable and does not require a host interface card, making it a cost-efficient solution. The PXIe-8301 provides PCI Express Gen 3 connectivity through two Thunderbolt 3 ports to maximize performance and offer up to 2.3 GB/s of sustained data throughput through an active cable. Passive cables are available as well, although they slightly lower the potential throughput of the PXIe-8301 to approximately 2.0 GB/s. The second port on the module allows for daisy chaining of additional Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C devices such as external storage or additional monitors.
Note: NI does not support using the second port of the PXIe-8301 for daisy chaining to additional chassis. For remote control of multichassis systems, consider using a desktop or rack-mount controller with a PCI or PCI Express host interface card.
Figure 1. The PXIe-8301 provides PCI Express Gen 3 connectivity through two Thunderbolt 3 ports to offer up to 2.3 GB/s of sustained data throughput.
The PXIe-8301 can be used with hosts that include a Thunderbolt port and a native (non-virtualized) operating system that supports a Thunderbolt connection. It is important that the port is specifically Thunderbolt-enabled and is not a generic USB-C port. Often, the Thunderbolt logo is displayed on PC ports that are Thunderbolt 3-enabled, but the best reference will be the PC specifications under the list of ports. Given the backward compatibility of Thunderbolt 3, you can establish a connection between the PXIe-8301 and a host with Thunderbolt 1 or 2 ports using adapters.
Figure 2. Many PC manufacturers will display the Thunderbolt logo next to ports that are specifically Thunderbolt-enabled, although the best place to verify will be in the PC specifications.
Thunderbolt 3 ports are becoming increasingly common on modern laptop and desktop PCs; Intel provides an online tool for tracking products that use Thunderbolt technology. With the introduction of the PXIe-8301, the PXI platform has incorporated this recent commercial technology in such a way to increase the reach of PXI test and measurement systems into high-performance, low-cost, and ultraportable applications.
Figure 3. The PXIe-8301 enables low-cost control of PXI Express systems from laptop computers.