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Asia a promising market for PXI standard

Posted: 05 May 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:national instruments? pxi modular instrumentation? pc? fpga? dsp?

PXI modular instrumentation products are showing signs of positive acceptance in the Asian market, more specifically in mainland China.

PXI (PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation) delivers PC-based, standardized, high-performance virtual instrumentation systems at an affordable price. "It is extremely attractive to the Asian market because this is the only platform that can do functional test, and integrate vision and motion handling," said Chandran Nair, National Instruments Corp.'s new ASEAN branch manager. "These companies are standardizing on PXI because it is a common framework that can be used across the world and it can reduce the cost to test while giving a lot of performance gain."

Since its introduction six years ago, it is now considered the fastest-growing open standard in the measurement and automation world.

"NI has substantially increased its presence in China during the last year and a half," he said. "The penetration of PXI in Asia would probably be 20 percent, 45 percent in the U.S., and 30 percent to 35 percent in Europe," Nair said, based on facts available from the PXI Systems Alliance (PXISA) - a 60-member organization chartered to promote the PXI standard, ensure interoperability, and maintain PXI specification.

"PXI has been widely adopted in the aerospace industry, in the traditional data-acquisition market, manufacturing tests, and to a smaller extent, in control applications," he added. "PXI has started establishing a significant presence in the aerospace industry." Five years ago, most of the simulation and test were done in VXI, now a lot of it has migrated to PXI.

It's also attractive to many of Asian engineers because it is an open standard - test solutions being available from more than 60 companies - and they can use it in a number of different applications. "The companies don't need to reinvest in separate motion-handling systems; they can use the backbone that they already have to do these things," Nair said.

Although PXI is a PC-based application, it is still possible to use it on Linux-based OSs. "Since the backbone of the PXI architecture is PCI, which is native to the PC, it doesn't matter which OS you use. Windows has taken the maximum share of the PXI-based applications because of the widespread use of Microsoft software," Nair added.

Untested waters

NI also has plans of going into semiconductor applications such as FPGAs and DSPs. The firm will soon be releasing its LabView-FPGA that would allow the user to "program in LabView and download according to the FPGA, so the end-user can make their own instruments."

To strengthen its growing presence in Asia, NI opened an office in Thailand in October last year. It has also allied with M. Hansson Consulting, an engineering-centric systems integrator in the Philippines focusing on custom test and measurement solutions.

"Customers would give us specifications for their products and we build the equipment to test their products," said Michael Hansson, general manager of M.H. Consulting. The consulting firm uses NI's PXI, CompactPCI, and other embedded PC solutions for applications such as quality assurance, repair, service, and product development.

"We are one of the few integrators in the Philippines able to handle complete top to bottom integration," Hansson said.

Jerico S. Abila

Electronic Engineering Times - Asia

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