NI Top Trends in Test and Measurement

According to National Instruments, three trends will significantly improve the efficiency of test and measurement systems in 2009. These trends help engineers develop faster and more flexible automated test systems while reducing their overall cost of test, and companies worldwide and from all industry segments are seeing significant benefits from applying these methods and technologies. The three trends involve software-defined instrumentation, parallel processing technologies, and new methods for wireless and semiconductor test.

Growth of Software-Defined Instrumentation
The adoption of software-defined instrumentation, also known as virtual instruments, is the most significant trend in test and measurement for 2009. Engineers are using software-defined instrumentation to achieve new levels of measurement performance and lower test costs by applying the latest technological advancements such as multicore processing and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) in their test systems to meet the demands of new application areas such as wireless and protocol-aware test.

Increased Adoption of Parallel Processing Technologies
Multicore technology has become a standard feature in automated test systems and a necessity for today’s electronic devices that are processing unprecedented amounts of data. Software-defined instrumentation takes advantage of the latest multicore processors and high-speed bus technologies to generate, capture, analyze and process the gigabytes of data required to properly design and test electronic devices.

Expansion of Wireless and Protocol-Aware Test
Software-defined instrumentation has proved ideal for wireless and protocol-aware test. For example, consumer electronics devices including cell phones and automotive in-dash entertainment systems often integrate multiple communication protocols and standards such as GPS, WiMAX and WLAN. Test engineers using traditional instruments have to wait for a dominant standard to emerge and then for vendors to develop a dedicated, stand-alone box instrument to test that standard. With software-defined instruments, engineers can test multiple standards using common modular hardware components and implement emerging and custom wireless protocols and algorithms in their test systems regardless of the maturity of a new wireless standard.

More info: National Instruments