Upgrading Your HIL Investment: Gaining the Assurance of Uninterrupted Testing


This white paper offers assistance to test engineers who are facing the decision to either migrate to dSPACE's SCALEXIO HIL system in light of the EOL of their current EcoLine and Mid-Size PHS based offerings, or to consider alternative options. With a software-centric, open platform backed by transparent product lifecycle information and hardware services, NI partners with leaders in HIL test around the world allowing users to test early and often with a flexible and supported system.


A crucial part of the design process is verification testing. When it’s hindered, reliable production stalls leading to schedule delays and major rework costs. At NI, our goal is that nothing stands between you and your test. We are aware of some changes another test solution provider—dSPACE—have recently made. PHS based EcoLine and Mid-Size Simulator systems will reach last time buy dates in 2021, forcing the decision to migrate to dSPACE’s SCALEXIO HIL system or to choose a different vendor. NI customers don’t experience this migration crossroads, and we’ll explain why.

For over 40 years, NI has helped engineers strip away distractions as they work on challenges large and small. It’s how our company was founded. Three researchers, tired of the limitations of box instruments, created their own virtual instrumentation so that the research problem they were working on could be their only problem, not the tools they were using. From this experience, NI was born, and our mission has persisted.

Opening the Black Box

Testers are best served when the industry’s leaders come together to provide the latest technology. At NI, we take a platform-based approach that incorporates rapidly changing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies like processors from Intel and FPGAs from Xilinx. With COTS-based tools, you are assured that tests are based on the latest industry developments. These tools are critical to system longevity because maintenance costs are offloaded to the provider who can handle updates and part obsolescence. NI releases multiple processor cards every year that incorporate the latest technology from industry leaders. To help you ensure the longevity of your system, we provide clear communication on product life cycles and services. In addition, you can gain confidence in the continued usability of your system with NI’s hardware services, which guarantee part availability beyond the typical product life cycle. By using COTS technology, you can be sure that your test system is backed by the best available. And we make this technology known to you. You should have an unquestionable expectation to “see under the hood” and have informed confidence in what makes your test system tick.

Modular, flexible COTS technology also means there are no wholesale platform EOLs. You can upgrade new technology within the platform by swapping out only the components that need upgrading. For instance, the PXI standard that NI developed and has built upon for 20 years still has software continuity with products that were sold into test systems in 1997.

As an example of our commitment to open and flexible tools, NI supports the industry standard ASAM XIL API for hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) test system automation. This means you can integrate NI tools into your existing test infrastructure while using the latest technology from NI’s industry-leading platform.

Full Ownership of Your System

Your purchase is yours, and you should be able to customize both hardware and software as you see fit. Test requirements are always changing. For instance, in automotive applications, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are ushering in a host of evolving safety guidelines as well as sensors and signals that necessitate increased and flexible testing. You can respond to changes with truly modular hardware from NI, an approach that lets you amend I/O count and type as needed. Additionally, you gain access to every feature of NI hardware upon purchase, from Ethernet ports to display outputs to user-programmable FPGAs. There are no additional costs to unlock elements.

You can select from a large variety of FPGA I/O devices that are user programmable with the graphical language, G, in LabVIEW as well as with text-based languages. With FPGAs, you can implement custom signal and bus types. This is yet another way that you are in control of every detail of your system. You can also choose your starting point and make your system your own with NI’s large library of existing application-specific examples such as engine simulation.

Test Your Way

You know your system best, and you know the best way to test it. By using a truly open platform, you can test the way you prefer with the workflow that works best for you. NI’s VeriStand configuration-based real-time test software is customizable with your own C, LabVIEW, or Python code and lets you incorporate software models from a host of simulation tools including The MathWorks, Inc. Simulink® software. The model is a vital piece of IP that is frustrating to pollute with vendor-specific functionality, so VeriStand has never required that you put NI functions in your model to connect the model to hardware.

Openness and customizability are at the center of NI’s platform, and this extends to turnkey solutions as well. Even though a system arrives prebuilt and ready for use, it should not be a black box. An NI-certified integrator can customize NI’s modular PXI hardware and switch load signal conditioning (SLSC) front end for signal conditioning and fault insertion to your requirements, so it arrives ready for your specific test. PXI and SLSC, however, use an open architecture; you are never locked into a single vendor. You own and understand your test system infrastructure so you can change your system later as requirements evolve. This means that your investment is not limited to your present test but can adapt as new and different tests are required.

Innovate With Confidence

We are committed to staying ahead of the curve as technology advances and building on our 40-year history of empowering the user. As we continue to innovate on our globally supported hardware and software platform, we are ever mindful of supporting you rather than leaving you at a crossroads. By partnering with us, you can gain the confidence of our history and the momentum of our future. We realize that you face the daunting task of changing your system and learning new tools. Make sure this is the last time you find yourself in this situation by partnering with a company that puts you in control.