Agilent, VXI start LAN-based, modular platform standard for automated testing

To combine the best of rack-and-stack instrument and modular test capabilities in a compact, flexible package, Agilent Technologies Inc. and VXI Technology Inc. have introduced LXI, a LAN-based, modular, platform standard for automated test systems.


To combine the best of rack-and-stack instrument and modular test capabilities in a compact, flexible package, Agilent Technologies Inc . and VXI Technology Inc . have introduced LXI, a LAN-based, modular, platform standard for automated test systems. LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation (LXI) combines built-in measurement science and PC-standard I/O connectivity from rack-and-stack instruments with the modularity and size reduction of cardcage-based systems. LXI’s high-speed I/O and reliable measurements meet the needs of R&D and manufacturing engineers developing electronics for the aerospace/defense, automotive, industrial, medical, and consumer electronics markets.

The new LXI standard will be managed by the LXI Consortium, a not-for-profit corporation consisting of leading test and measurement companies. The group's goals are to develop, support and promote the LXI standard.

"While the VXI bus is an ideal standard for all high-density, high-speed applications, LXI combines the benefits of VXI and Ethernet, and provides users with a well-defined platform for high-performance instruments for applications not typically addressed with VXI," says Paul Dhillon, VXI’s VP. "We’re excited to work with Agilent to once again create a powerful, modular industry-standard measurement platform."

Agilent and VXI Technology say they’ve used their history of modular instrument design to introduce the LXI platform, which they add is a logical and practical step in the progress of open-standard instrumentation for test systems. With an Ethernet-based local area network (LAN) integrated into nearly every computer, it is the most widely accepted communications interface. Networking hardware is becoming less expensive, speeds continue to increase, and LAN offers peer-to-peer communications not available in other point-to-point interface standards. The partners add that test and measurement engineers increasingly realize the benefits of high-speed LAN as an alternative to proprietary test and measurement interfaces, such as GPIB, which is now challenged by the industry's need for lower cost, higher bandwidths and faster data transfer rates.

"LXI's LAN-based architecture provides the basis for long lifecycle instrumentation implementations, such as in the aerospace and defense industry," adds Pat Byrne, VP and GM of Agilent's Wireless business unit. "LXI is not limited by bandwidth, software, or computer backplane architectures. It can leverage ever-increasing Ethernet throughput, making it the ideal solution for engineers facing next-generation automated test system challenges."

LXI test and measurement modules are optimized for use in design validation or manufacturing test systems. LAN connectivity enables modules to reside and be accessed from anywhere in the world. Unlike a modular cardcage with costly power supply, backplane, controller, and MXI cards and cables, LXI modules are self-contained with their own processor, LAN connections, power supply and trigger inputs. LXI modules are either one- or two-rack units tall in full- or half-width, which makes it simple to mix and match functionality. Signal inputs and outputs are located on the front, with LAN and input ac power located on the rear of each LXI module. LXI modules are controlled by a computer, and do not require the displays, buttons and dials that come with traditional rack-and-stack instruments. LXI modules use standard Web browsers for troubleshooting and IVI-COM drivers for communications to simplify system integration

For more information about the LXI Consortium’s products, licensing, and specifications, click here . To read a backgrounder on the LXI platform from Agilent, click here .

—Jim Montague, news editor, Control Engineering,

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