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What is PXI? Advantages, Pro Tips and More

PXI has swept labs across the world in a storm and left many asking what is PXI?

Well, we are here to answer this exact question, and add some pro tips while we’re at it.

Pickering PXI Chassis

What is PXI – Meaning and Explanation

PXI is an acronym for PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation. It is a modular electronics platform for various purposeful instruments.

So what is PXI comprised of? PXI is a system that incorporates a chassis, a controller and various modules depending on your needs.

Over 70 vendors today can supply PXI modules and chassis, with the leading companies being Pickering, NI and Keysight.

Mostly you can mix and match between vendors for flexibility and for cost reductions.

One of the current generation’s modular electronic instrumentation platforms today is PXI (PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation) it has promptly became the industry standard.

PXI enables you to perform many calculations, measurements and testing in a short amount of time.

So what is PXI? PXI is the platform for creating modular laboratory instruments, automation systems,data aquisition and electronic test equipment.

PXI is based on industry-standard computer buses and allows for adaptability in equipment design.

Custom software is frequently installed on modules to control the system. You can write your own, source it out, or use ready-made software.

The Advantages of Using PXI Are:

  • It is flexible and compact.
  • Can transfer high rates of data.
  • It is both cost-effective and modular.
  • Supports high-performance instruments.
  • Synced through all instruments in the chassis.

Pro Tip for the PXI Chassis:

Most people aren’t aware there are different types of module slots in a PXI chassis, and those that do sometimes don’t know the easy way to identify them.

Pay attention to the numbered symbols below the slot of the instruments:

what is PXI Chassis Slot Symbols Meaning

Full black triangle is a PXIe Controller

A white triangle is a PXI Controller.

Full black circle is a PXI Express slot.

A white circle is for a PXI (not express) slot.

Circle with a little H above the circle ( 4 )ʰ means “Hybrid”. (both PXI and PXIe slot).

A white square means it is a system timing slot.

A black square around a full black circle means either a timing slot or a PXIe slot.

A black square tilted is a trigger slot.

Should I Deploy a PXI System?

If you need to deploy a multi-instrument system, a PXI system is one of the best ways to go about it.

However, if you do choose a PXI test and measurement system, you should consider planning ahead (true for every system, but important to note here as well).

You need to understand the required instruments for the tasks, the software strategy, the environment in which you plan on operating, etc.

Once you fully understand the system you plan to build, you can start looking for a chassis.

We recommend you take a chassis larger than necessary for future upgrades, flexibility and in order to leave some room for error.

PXI and PXIe Difference

Assembly of a PXI System

After the assembly of the system, you would have to configure the module, you can write custom code in LabView or MS DotNet Environment, etc. almost anything works.

What is PXIe (or PXI Express)

PXIe (or PXI Express) is an adaptation of PCI express to the PXI world.

It has alot of advantages including faster data transfers (input and output) and flexibility with the PXI chassis.

If you have a hybrid slot on your PXI Chassis, you can very well use both a PXI module and a PXIe module in it. The whole process is very convenient.

What is PXImc (or PXI Multi Computing)

PXImc stands for PXI Multi Computing.

In a nutshell, it enables you to connect multiple PXIe modular instruments and chassis and transfer large amounts of data at high speeds from one intelligent module to the other, within the same chassis or between different ones, with next to no latency.

To put it into perspective, you can transfer Gigabytes of information in a single second between instruments. And the latency would only be a few microseconds.

This enables you to create larger more complex test systems.

So What is PXI?

Well PXI is the new PCI “on steroids”.

With faster protocols, additional instruments and more advanced systems built to match a variety of needs in the industry.

In a nutshell – PXI? is the future.

Pickering PXI Chassis

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