Generating and analyzing waveforms

National Instruments has announced two new PXI digital waveform generator/analyzers for common logic families.

The PXI modules are suitable for interfacing to high-pin-count digital ICs and electronics in a variety of industries including semiconductor, military/aerospace and manufacturing test. The company plans to release PCI versions of the modules later in 2004.

The NI PXI-6542 and PXI-6541 digital waveform generator/analyzers offer 100MHz and 50 MHz maximum clock rates and 32 channels with per-channel direction control. Design and test engineers can software-configure the modules to interface with a broad set of common logic families of 5.0 V, 3.3 V, 2.5 V and 1.8 V.

The modules add high-density digital capabilities to the NI 100 MS/s mixed-signal suite of instrumentation introduced in August 2003. They are built on the company’s Synchronization and Memory Core (SMC) architecture, a fundamental technology of the mixed-signal suite. The SMC architecture delivers a timing and synchronization engine, data transfer cores and deep, flexible memory. The architecture’s synchronization engine can lock multiple instrument modules together through a set of shared clocks and trigger signals.

Using the SMC-based modules, engineers can synchronize multiple digital modules for high-channel-count applications or synchronize digital with analog modules for mixed-signal applications. The architecture preserves system investments by scaling software and test hardware across multiple applications or installments.

For example, engineers can characterize a design using the 10 mV programmable levels on the PXI-6552 digital waveform generator/analyzer module and functionally test that design in production with the lower-cost PXI-6542 module while reusing their existing software test modules.

Alternatively, an engineer can start with the PXI-6542 module for common logic families and move to the PXI-6552 digital waveform generator/analyzer module as the design’s logic level technology changes.

Engineers can create test applications with the modules by using two software tools: Express VIs in the National Instruments LabVIEW 7.1 graphical development environment and the NI Digital Waveform Editor for interactively creating and editing digital patterns.