Today’s system designs pack more functionality than ever, and test engineers must test these designs in less time than ever. Test environments require higher bandwidths and the ability to perform testing in a variety of scenarios, whether on the test bench, in production, or in the field. Additionally, test platforms need to be more compact and better able to manage thermal issues.
PXI Express (PXIe)-based systems have proven themselves worthy in terms of bandwidth to meet the challenges of today’s test paradigm. ADLINK Technology, which has been in the PXI market for 10 years, has launched a lineup of PXIe-based products that deliver the requisite higher bandwidths.
At the heart of the platform is the PXES-2590 chassis, which ADLINK claims as the first all-hybrid, nine-slot chassis (see the figure). Able to house both PXI and PXIe modules, the chassis sports a four-lane topology that provides system bandwidths of up to 8 Gb/s. Because all slots are hybrids, the chassis affords maximum flexibility in terms of module positioning, allowing modules to be installed in preferred locations.
The chassis’ slot lineup (one system slot, seven hybrid slots, and one timing slot) addresses flexibility in another important way. Many PXI modules are two, three, and even four slots wide. In the past, one of the only ways to accommodate these wider modules was with an 18-slot chassis. Having seven hybrid slots in play is likely enough for many users, and you gain the portability in the bargain.
A number of other features set apart the PXES-2590 chassis from competitive offerings. For one, an optional integrated LCD display and keyboard outfits the chassis for more convenient portable usage. For another, ADLINK has addressed the cooling challenges of a compact PXIe chassis with a well-thought-out thermal management scheme. Intelligent chassis management includes automatic fan-speed control, chassis status monitoring and reporting, and remote chassis power on/off control.
There are separate cooling systems for the modules and the 525-W power supply. Airflow is from the bottom front of the unit to the rear. A neat touch is a sealed, drip-proof top cover that eliminates risks of spills and potential airflow problems caused by casually placing items on top of the chassis.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, ADLINK released its PXIe-3972 3U controller module, based on the Intel Core i5-520E 2.4-GHz processor. It provides a variety of I/O capabilities for easy connection to other instruments.
To augment the controller, the PXI-9527 dynamic signal-acquisition (DSA) module, which offers two simultaneous analog inputs with sampling rates up to 432 kS/s and two simultaneous analog outputs with update rates up to 216 kS/s. The 24-bit module also supports IEPE output standards on each of its analog inputs, which permits direct connection to sensors with no need for intervening signal conditioning. The module is a PXI-Type 3 design, which suits it to the chassis’ hybrid slots.
Another member of the lineup is the PXIe-9842 digitizer module, with a single input channel that offers sampling rates of up to 200 MS/s. The module features a high-resolution, 14-bit analog-to-digital converter and a bandwidth of up to 100 MHz for analog input. Its high sampling rate and resolution is aimed at users who need to record large amounts of data for subsequent analysis.
An interesting application for the PXIe-9842 is in distributed temperature sensing for fire detection within transit tunnels. Using optical fibers of up to 37 miles long, distributed temperature sensing measures temperature profiles at many points along its length. The digitizer’s high sampling rate and high resolution delivers accurate temperature data, while the high-speed PXIe interface provides fast data transfer.
The PXES-2950 PXIe chassis costs $3600 each. For the PXIe-3975 PXIe system controller, pricing is $4500. Prices for the PXI-9527 DSA module and PXIe-9842 digitizer modules is $3405 and $2700, respectively. The PMK-1524 portable monitor and keyboard for the chassis adds $2750.
ADLINK Technology Inc.