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From Bob Helsel, Editor of the PXI Newsletter:

Welcome to the February 2019 edition of the PXI Newsletter.  Our intent is to educate and inform you about how the PXI standard is being used in modular test systems for a wide variety of industries.

In the New PXI Products section, we are showcasing PXI products recently released by members of the PXI Systems Alliance.

Our thanks go to the PXI Systems Alliance, the sponsor of this month's issue.

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Terabyte RF Instrumentation: Solving New Applications with High-Speed Storage Solutions

Submitted by National Instruments


The ability to stream RF signals to disk continuously opens up a whole host of new applications for “streaming capable” instruments. In this paper, you will learn about several applications that benefit from this technology.


Traditional RF instruments such as vector signal generators and vector signal analyzers use standard RAM (Random Access Memory) as a mechanism for waveform storage.  As a result, maximum generation and acquisition sizes for these RF instruments are typically limited to several hundred megabytes at best.

However, the combination of a high-speed data bus and RAID technology enables longer acquisition rates.  Moreover, for RF signals, an RF analog front end and digital signal processing technologies enables efficient generation and acquisition of signals using superheterodyne upconversion and downconversion.  A high-level system diagram of a typical system is illustrated in the figure below.


Figure 1.  Several core technologies enable RF stream-to-disk.

As a result of each of these components, instrument memory can be supplemented with high-speed RAID (Random Array of Inexpensive Disks) hard drive configurations.  In this scenario, data can be transferred from the instrument to hard disk at rates that exceed the rate of acquisition.  Thus, the maximum waveform size is no longer limited by size of onboard memory, but by the size of available hard disk space.  Using external RAID hard drive configurations, the waveform storage can be expanded to up to several terabytes of data. 

Overview of RF Stream-to-Disk Applications

The ability to generate or acquire up to several terabytes of continuous data enables PXI instruments to solve new applications that were once only possible with custom hardware.  In this paper, we will describe four common applications which significantly benefit from the use of sustained continuous RF generation or acquisition.  These applications are:

  • Spectrum Monitoring
  • Packet Sniffing
  • Wireless Receiver Design, Validation, and Verification
  • Digital Video Broadcast BER Tests

In each of the applications listed above, the ability to continuously stream data to disk for extended periods of time is either essential, or provides substantial benefits.



Thanks to all our readers.
Bob Helsel, Editor

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New PXI Products

The PXI platform continues its explosive growth with many new product introductions. New products introduced in the last three months include (listed in the order received):

Pickering Interfaces’ PXI Programmable Resistor Modules
These new PXI programmable resistor modules (model 40-251/2/3) offer 2.5W, 5W or 10W power handling with a wide selection of channel counts and resistance ranges. They target applications that require an accurate medium-power programmable resistance such as a programmable load for the testing of ECUs or for fuel level sensing in the demanding, hi-reliability, Automotive, Military and Aerospace sectors. Available with between 1 and 8 resistance channels per module, resistance settings from 1 to 22M and resolutions from 0.125 to 2, the most suitable module may be selected for any specific application. 

Marvin Test Solutions Expands User-Programmable PXIe FPGA Product Line
The GX3800e is a user configurable, FPGA-based, 3U PXI Express card which supports the 400 pin, VITA 57.1 FMC interface standard. The card employs the Altera Cyclone V GX FPGA, which supports xcvr data rates up to 3.125 Gb/s and features over 300,000 logic elements and 12.2 Kb of memory.  Users can design their own custom interface module or select from a wide range of commercial off-the-shelf FMC modules which can then be integrated with the GX3800e - creating customized instrumentation for analog or digital test applications.  

Coherent Solutions O2EPXIe – Modular Optical-to-Electrical Converter
The O2EPXIe is a high bandwidth, broadband OE converter designed for the PXI Platform. Available in a range of configurations; choose from 1 or 2 channels, AC or DC coupling and various conversion gain and operating wavelength ranges.

Sundance DSP PXIe800Z
The PXIe800Z is based on Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC FPGA family. Depending on the choice of Zynq UltraScale+ FPGA it can be used for High-Performance Computing (HPC), digital communication or image processing, including AR/VR applications. 

Keysight PXI Vector Signal Analyzers
For design validation and manufacturing applications that require fast, high quality measurements where quality control, product conformance and test optimization are essential. With a small footprint, speed, scalability repeatability, and the flexibility to configure a solution with a shared processor, frame/chassis, display, and interface, PXIe vector signal analyzers provide the building blocks for your single or multi-channel modular test solution.


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