AXIe nears the tipping point

-November 23, 2015



If you’re a frequent reader of this column, Test Cafe, you are probably familiar with AXIe.  Positioned as the “big brother to PXI”, AXIe is a modular instrument standard similar to PXI in many respects, but utilizing a larger board format that allows higher power instruments and greater rack density.  Since it relies chiefly on the same PCI Express fabric for data communication as PXI, it is nearly indistinguishable from PXI when viewed from the test system controller and is programmed similarly. For more information, you can read my recent tutorial about AXIe here.

Frequent readers will also note that there is a lot of news coming from AXIe recently:

This past week there was more AXIe news as three vendors announced a major electronic warfare test system win.



AXIe was chosen to upgrade a major EW (electronic warfare) test system, comprising products from Giga-tronics, Guzik, and Keysight.  Gigatronics supplied the chassis and signal generation components, Guzik the digitizers, and Keysight the baseband signal generation. Image courtesy of Giga-tronics.


With chassis from Giga-tronics, but instruments from Giga-tronics, Guzik, and Keysight, this was the first time (to my knowledge) that a solution was created from the AXIe products of three vendors.

The confluence of announcements leads me to state that AXIe is nearing the tipping point, if it isn’t there already. For those unfamiliar with the tipping point concept, I refer you to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Essentially, Gladwell describes the tipping point as the moment something reaches critical mass, and that its success attracts others in a way that the successes grow exponentially. Previously, I invoked the tipping point concept in my column RF measurements: the modular tipping point, hypothesizing that modular instruments, led by PXI, were reaching that point within RF applications.  Two years later, we see that this is exactly the case as major vendors race to bring new RF capabilities to the PXI market, including the emerging 5G segment.

If true, what does this mean for the industry? First of all, let me state what it doesn’t mean: the slowing of PXI. While there may be some application overlap between PXI and AXIe, there is more synergy between the two than competition. In fact, the growth of one can accelerate the growth of the other, a theme I may explore in more detail in a future column. What AXIe’s success means is an acceleration of the total modular growth rate, already higher than traditional test and measurement.  While PXI is growing in the mid-teens, 10 points higher than the market overall, evidence points to AXIe growing at greater than 50%. The arithmetic sum implies a net acceleration. So do the application and use models.  Once a user migrates to the modular instrument paradigm, there is little difference in competencies to create a PXI system, an AXIe system, or a combined system. AXIe simply expands the set of applications that modular instruments can address.

As I write this, there is news that yet another company, Informtest, has introduced their first AXIe products, based on the lower-cost but compatible AXIe-0 standard.

And with that news, dear readers, I now declared AXIe as “tipped”.


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