Electronic component development and advancement influences just about everything we do. Around forty years ago, at the end of the 1970s, integrated circuits (IC) were starting to enter mainstream use with new personal computers from Apple, Atari, Sinclair, and Commodore. Since then, ICs are present in almost everything we use, from mobile phones to even Wi-Fi-connected kitchen appliances!
The boundaries of technology are continually being expanded, with ever more powerful chips being developed, demanding continual improvements in testing capabilities. The processing power of personal computers has increased rapidly over the past 40 years. In 1979, Intel produced the 8086 processor which had a single core, operating at up to 10 MHz with a 16-bit data bus and contained 29,000 transistors. Their latest Core i9 processor has up to 10 cores, runs at up to 5 GHz, and operates in 64 bits. Although Intel does not release official figures, it contains billions of transistors. We recognize this trend as Moore’s Law, with the quantity of IC transistors doubling each year.
Testing such cutting-edge technology requires exceptional test lab facilities. Stepping back just a little to more routine electronics, such as a car Electronic Control Unit (ECU), for example, and even here the testing systems must be proactive to remain effective. Apex Waves can supply National Instruments test equipment designed for production and R&D testing in the electronics industry.
The National Instruments PXI platform is based around a modular system, allowing a test lab to be produced in stages and expanded easily as the requirements change. This flexibility gives several advantages over a custom-built test system. One of the biggest advantages is cost-saving.
Your National Instruments PXI based test environment can be customized for the latest technology instead of replacing it, often through software only. Using the National Instruments LabVIEW software and the module driver software, tight integration between hardware and software is achieved.
PXI digital measurement modules offer exacting accuracy and functionality. The National Instruments PXI-4072 Digital Multimeter, for example, gives 7 digit accuracy and is capable of twenty different measurement types, including capacitance, inductance, temperature, plus voltage and current. Combining these standard measurements in one module saves space in the chassis and reduces test development time. It is perfect for automated testing, particularly when using National Instruments LabVIEW software for configuration.
For semiconductor testing, National Instruments PXI Digital Instruments can be configured using the Digital Pattern Editor software. The NI PXIe-7902 model provides high-speed serial interface testing through 24 Tx and Rx serial connections. It is complete with 2 GB of RAM and FPGA capabilities that can be programmed through the LabVIEW FPGA Module.