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Since the twentieth century, since the mid-eighties, virtual instrument technology has been combined with a modular hardware, development software and PC technology, which enables users to create custom software instruments. Software-defined functions than the vendor-defined way of desktop devices for greater flexibility, and because PC-based technology, they are able to achieve faster advanced features.
Now in test applications using virtual instrument technology has become mainstream. Most testing industry has accepted the concept Rohde & Schwarz FSH3 Spectrum Analyzer of virtual instrumentation, or a preference for virtual instrumentation. For example, a representative of the U.S. military, though not the leader in technology trends, but also in widespread use of virtual instrumentation. As the world’s largest ATE (Automated Test Equipment) independent users, the U.S. Department of Defense has in their comprehensive instrument to promote the use of the concept of software-based devices. Report to Congress, the Defense Ministry said: “In the development of integrated devices, with the commercialization of new technologies in real time to configure the instrument to achieve a variety of testing capabilities …… a single integrated device can replace multiple independent function of the instrument, thus reducing the volume of logistical equipment and to address the problem of aging equipment. “[February 2002, the Ministry of Defence Office of the technical improvement report to Congress]. Integrated instrument and virtual instrument technology with commercial hardware and software processing features, these two together can create user-defined instrument.
Present, thousands of major companies have started using virtual instrumentation. Detection only in the production, like Lexmark, Motorola, Delphi, ABB and Philips have these industry leaders in key projects, large-scale product test applications using virtual instrumentation hardware and software. In the industrial field, the virtual instrument technology has been used for automation of oil drilling and refining, production of machine control, and even nuclear reactor control.
The problems of traditional instruments and innovators
ClaytonChristensen of the same name as described in the book, traditional instruments will suffer in the meantime, “innovators of the problem.” Christensen is described this phenomenon: the new breakthrough technology will change the market outlook and ultimately overthrow the market leader position. In fact, Christensen that the market leader in new technologies is very difficult to reverse after leading the market up. In test and measurement field, the traditional instruments by using the existing structure to improve the measurement performance and continuous innovation along this direction. In the early days of virtual instrumentation, measurement of performance because of its relatively low, so in this case, the breakthrough technology with traditional instrumentation, and without much threat, so they largely ignored the virtual instrument technology existence. However, the twentieth century, the late eighties and early nineties, the virtual instrument technology been applied to measure the need for flexibility, which are applied by conventional methods can not be achieved. To the late nineties and the twenty-first century, with the PC processor and the commercialization of semiconductor performance and further improve the accuracy of the virtual instrument technology, measuring performance has improved much more than the original. Now, the virtual instrument technology and performance of traditional instruments of measurement equal to or exceed them, but also has a higher data rate, flexibility, scalability, and lower system cost.
In the consumer goods market in order to prove the “innovators problems” this principle, we can compare MP3 and traditional broadcast media such as CD. The beginning of the traditional audio equipment manufacturers are not aware of the threat of MP3 player?? After all, MP3 sound quality decreased, and when you need to play PC and specialized software. On the other hand, CD player, is easy to use and have a special user interface (buttons and knobs). However, due to sharing of MP3 and portable with easy-to-edge, so despite its shortcomings, is still in the early birth praised by some users. Over time, MP3 quality has been acceptable and MP3 player software has also been a great development. MP3 has become mainstream now, and the traditional audio recording and playback industry caused a great threat. Although many traditional player manufacturers through the development of the final player with MP3 function to shift to this breakthrough technology (Sony recently introduced a MP3Walkman), but the new market has been the first introduction of MP3 technology, led the company. For example, Apple has captured the hard disk based music player sales, 82% [NPD, 2004 8 months].
In test and measurement market, an industry leader Agilent has also introduced the concept of virtual instrumentation. For example, Agilent recently introduced products include a set of Ethernet-based “integrated equipment” and is compatible with PXI arbitrary waveform generator, and the industry-standard PXI is the platform for virtual instrumentation. Agilent’s JohnStratton also recently expressed support for software-defined and comprehensive equipment concept: “and the current standard use of rack solutions, another option is to use the integrated devices. Integrated device uses software algorithms and hardware modules to replace the separate The test unit. “[the military and aerospace electronics, June 2004]. In a recent investor conference, the Agilent’s chief operating officer BillSullivan proposed, “to use the software-based modular instrumentation configuration, allowing users to easily configure and re-use to repeat, it will be testing and measuring the direction of future development . ”
PC performance and reduce cost innovation
In the past two decades, PC’s performance has improved 10,000-fold, not to any other business of technology there had been such a high performance growth. As the use of virtual instrumentation for measurement of PC processors, each with the emergence of a new generation of PC processors, the use of virtual instrument technology new applications can be achieved. For example, the current 3GHzPC can be used to carry out complex analysis of frequency domain and modulation for use in communications test applications. Using the 1990 PC (Intel386/16), 65,000 points of the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform for spectral analysis of the basic measurement) needs 1100 seconds. And now the P4 3.4GHz computer using the FFT to achieve the same offer just 0.8 seconds [Ffbench, JohnWalker].
At the same time, hard disk, display, and bus bandwidth has a similar performance improvement. A new generation of high-speed PC bus bandwidth can provide up to PCIExpress 3.2GBytes / s, which can be used PC architecture to achieve high bandwidth measurements. Some companies claim to be giving way to high-speed internal bus such as Ethernet and
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