Lxi Figure 2 Png

LXI after the first 10 years

Aug. 4, 2015

LXI has become very popular following its introduction 10 years ago. Founded by VXI Technology (now VTI Instruments) and Agilent Technologies (now Keysight Technologies), the LXI Consortium has grown from 13 companies in 2004, before the first version of the specification was released, to 52 members today.

According to information on the consortium website, about 100 new products have been approved in the last year. The number is significant even if it’s a bit misleading. As Figure 1 shows, products that can have lots of variation lead the list. For example, oscilloscopes within a model series typically are available with different bandwidths, numbers of channels, and sometimes with or without an auxiliary set of digital data channels. Similarly, families of power supplies may list several models with various power, voltage, and current ratings. Each combination of capabilities is treated as a separate unit. Nevertheless, the chart illustrates that LXI is provided for a wide range of instrument types.

Figure 1. Product types listed during the last 12 months

If you were to draw a similar graph for all the products listed by the LXI Consortium, not just those from the last year, power supplies, oscilloscopes, and switching would be at or near the top of that chart as well. Compared to the 10 product categories in Figure 1, 55 are needed to cover all the product types added since LXI began, although in many cases a category may have only one or two products.

Looking at the data year by year in Figure 2 indicates that the rate of product introduction may be falling off. The very large peaks in 2009 and 2013 distort the graph so that it’s hard to see a trend or average in the total (blue) curve. Examining the data for those years in detail shows that only 70 of the 643 products approved in 2013 were not power supplies or oscilloscopes. Similarly, the total of 632 for 2009 was split: 559 for power supplies and oscilloscopes and 73 for other products. The green curve represents approvals by year for all products except power supplies and scopes.

Figure 2. Product approval totals per year

Figure 3 shows the total number of products but organized by manufacturer and year(s) of listing rather than type of product. In both 2006 and 2007, when the consortium was just getting started, only eight companies introduced products. From 2008 through 2013, however, about a third of the 40 companies that have products listed with the consortium added new ones each year. Against that steady level of performance, the reduction to nine companies in 2014 and seven so far in 2015 may be significant.

Figure 3. Product listings by company and year

Figure 4 looks at the data in Figure 3 from the other direction: In how many years did each company list new products? It’s not surprising that LXI Consortium strategic members Keysight Technologies, Pickering Interfaces, Rigol Technologies, and Rohde & Schwarz are at or near the top of the figure.

Figure 4. Number of years with new approvals by company
New product examples

Products from seven companies have been approved to date in 2015. The SCPMII Switch Chassis from Giga-tronics and Universal Switching’s C3 switch system controller facilitate test system development although neither product is a switch or an instrument.

Four 7510-based DMMs from Keithley Instruments combine a 5-inch graphical touchscreen display and a high-speed, high-resolution digitizer. Precision measurements to 7½ digits as well as 1-MS/s transient capture are supported along with offset-compensated, four-wire, and dry-circuit ohms functions.

Kikusui Electronics submitted four PBZxx Bipolar Power Supplies and three PLZxxx Electronic Loads. The PBZ supplies are four-quadrant SMUs that also can generate sine, square, or triangle waveforms as well as user-defined arbitrary signals.

Keysight introduced the 34465A and 34470A DMMs with graphical displays that allow you to view charts of your measurements as they are acquired. On the RF/microwave side, the company released the E5080A Network Analyzer with three frequency ranges and the N9040B UXA Spectrum Analyzer with three bandwidths. As well as six WaveRunner 6Zi models, Teledyne LeCroy added the 12-bit resolution 64Zi and 66Zi HRO high-resolution oscilloscopes with 400-MHz and 600-MHz bandwidth, respectively.

Finally, Pickering Interfaces released seven 60-553-based matrix switches. The dual-bus design of the 1,024×4 matrix features isolation relays that can reduce capacitive loading and support partitioning into two 512×4 matrices. The matrix is available with built-in relay self-test and can be populated in 128×4 increments from 256×4.

For more information on modular instruments, see “Leveraging test platform diversity.”

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