Test has been a long-proven field for virtual instrumentation. More than 25,000 companies (the majority being test and measurement companies) use National Instruments virtual instrumentation. Now, companies quickly are adopting up to 200 MS/s digitization capabilities. The PXI consortium hosts more than 60 members delivering hundreds of products. And tens of thousands of R&D, validation, and product test engineers and scientists literally use thousands and thousands of instrument drivers.
Still, the need for test has never been greater. As the pace of innovation has increased, so too has the pressure to get new, differentiated products to market quickly. Consumer expectations continue to increase; in electronics markets, for example, disparate function integration is required in a small space and at a low cost. The economic downturn of recent years has not curbed the need to innovate, but instead has added the restraint of fewer resources. Meeting these demands is a factor in business success – the company that can meet these demands quickly, consistently, and most reliably has a decided advantage over the competition.
All of these conditions drive new validation, verification, and manufacturing test needs. A test platform that can keep pace with this innovation is not optional, it is essential. The platform must include rapid test development tools adaptable enough to be used throughout the product development flow. The need to get products to market quickly and manufacture them efficiently requires high-throughput test. To test the complex multifunction products that consumers demand requires precise, synchronized measurement capabilities. And as companies incorporate innovations to differentiate their products, test systems must quickly adapt to test the new features.
Virtual instrumentation is an innovative solution to these challenges. It combines rapid development software and modular, flexible hardware to create user-defined test systems. Virtual instrumentation delivers:
- Intuitive software tools for rapid test development;
- Fast, precise modular I/O based on innovative commercial technologies
- A PC-based platform with integrated synchronization for high accuracy and throughput
An example of recent National Instruments innovation accelerating test, control and design is FPGA-based hardware programmed using LabVIEW FPGA. If an engineer needs a new hardware capability, like onboard DSP, or a new triggering mode, you can drill down even further to define this capability in the same software and deploy it to an on-board FPGA. Engineers and scientists have always been able to use LabVIEW to create highly integrated user-defined systems using modular I/O but they can now extend custom configurability to the hardware itself. This degree of user-configurability and transparency will change the way engineers build test systems.
. LabVIEW offers user-defined instruments and customizable hardware