PXI – The Workhorse
PXI is so flexible and extensible that it can be used for so many different test applications. We’ve used it for things like:
- End of line test for aerospace products
- Streaming several GB/s of LVDS digital data to 24 TB RAID arrays
- High volume test of vehicle key fobs and ECUs
- Testing Gatling guns for military aircraft
- and even to prototype medical devices with lots of analog IO.
PXI is the workhorse of the NI family. It is capable of handling 1000s of digital and analog IO. It can process massive amounts of data with the latest CPUs or with some of the largest Xilinx FPGAs. It is also extensible through the use of MXI-Express to other PXI chassis or through Ethernet/USB to cDAQ (more on that shortly).
PXI is best suited for systems that require the wide range of test instruments that PXI supports, or that need the processing power of a PXI controller. Applications that have space for a PC-sized chassis will be able to benefit from a graphical user interface (GUI) without having to connect a separate host PC.
PXI has the broadest range of off-the-shelf expansion cards. Everything from DIO and AIO to RF signal generators and analyzers to industrial comms to FPGAs with COTS interfaces for DIO, AIO, and RF. In addition, PXI has the widest range of 3rd party cards for things like GigE camera interfaces and the ability to create custom cards and interface modules for FPGA cards. This might sound like a sales brochure, but it’s really just trying to point out that there is a LOT you can do with PXI.
PXI can run Windows for most general applications or a real-time operating system (RTOS) for when more determinism is needed, but cRIO will not work for some other reason. We’ve used PXI quite a bit (see here for more details).