PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation (PXI) and PXI Express (PXIe) have become industry-standard test platforms that have been widely adopted by numerous industries, including aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, process control and industrial automation. These standards have evolved over the last two decades, benefiting from continuous innovation. With access to modular components, test and measurement companies can leverage these standards in their proprietary solutions and avoid overextending on cost or time.

A PXI system consists of a system controller, a PXI chassis, and CPCI/PXI peripheral cards. The system controller can be a physical card slotted in the left side of a rack or a remote-controlled function. The chassis is a mechanical housing with up to 18 slots that features a backplane, power sources, cooling mechanisms, and space for the controller. Peripheral cards slot into the chassis and serve a wide variety of test and measurement functions.

PXI was developed in 1997, based on the peripheral component interconnect (PCI) and compact PCI (cPCI), specifically designed for test and measurement (T&M) technology. PXI utilised high sample rates from PCI and cPCI, low-latency triggers, and high-accuracy clock architecture to meet the unique needs of T&M. Meanwhile, PXIe implemented Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) on PXI platforms, which allowed for backward compatibility while incorporating new capabilities as PCIe evolved. Like PCIe.

PXIe has adopted a generational structure and it’s come to signify suitability for different applications and price points. Generations one and two are best suited for amplifiers and arbitrary function generations. Generation three and beyond are most useful for real-time receivers and spectrum analysers, high-speed digitisers, and arbitrary waveform generators. Bandwidth jumps from 1 GB/s to 24 GB/s in generation three to support today’s most demanding test applications.

PXI and PXIe are most known for their high accuracy and precision, flexible triggering options, and high-speed data acquisition, which improve measurement speed and productivity for all types of automated test applications. However, PXI and PXIe are designed to support as many applications as possible with off-the-shelf components, making it challenging for companies with specific design requirements to leverage standardisation.

To extend industry-standard benefits, nVent SCHROFF offers a portfolio of standard building blocks. Such as functional modules, which is a subset of building blocks that includes PCIe switches, PCIe to PCI bridges, clock modules, trigger bridges, and chassis management modules. In addition, nVent SCHROFF has a wide portfolio of power supplies, and mechanical chassis to build customised PXI and PXIe systems. Customisation requires low development effort and short time to market because there’s a well-designed foundation for these systems.

Standard chassis designs range from 3U to 9U with between 8 and 18 slots. Modular power supplies support different input voltages. With a wide range of cooling solutions, from convection to forced-air cooling, users can design systems that suit their specific thermal requirements. Chassis customisation options range from mechanical adjustment, to corporate designs, including paint, logo printing, and colour matching.

In addition to the mechanical customisation options offered by nVent SCHROFF, the company also provides system architecture customisation for PXI and PXIe systems. This customisation involves the use of specialised interface modules such as PCIe switches and PCI bridges, which can be integrated into the backplane to provide custom signal topology for specific application requirements.

nVent SCHROFF also offers specialised interface modules for other applications, such as power management and communication. These modules can be used to add new capabilities to a system or to replace existing modules with more advanced versions.

Overall, system architecture customisation can provide companies with a powerful tool for creating PXI and PXIe systems that are tailored to their specific application requirements. By leveraging the modular components and customisation options provided by nVent SCHROFF, companies can design systems that are both cost-effective and highly effective for their intended applications.

Foremost Electronics are the UK Platinum level partner for nVent Schroff and can supply their complete range of standard and customisable enclosures and advanced cooling systems.