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The virtual instrument technology is expected to become test and measurement industry mainstream tendency

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     Since the 1980s, the virtual instrument technology since mid already combined modular hardware, software development and PC technology, thus the user can through software to build custom instruments. Software defined than manufacturers definition desktop instrument function way of measuring instruments through more flexibility, and because based on PC technology, so can the faster speed achieve advanced functions.

    Now in the test applications using the virtual instrument technology has become the mainstream. Most test industry has accepted the concept of virtual instrument technique, or tend to use the virtual instrument technology. For example, representative of the U.S. military though not technology trends leader, but also in the widely use of virtual instrument technology. As the world's largest ATE (automated test equipment) independent user, U.S. defense department already in what they promote comprehensive instrument based on software instrument concept. In the report to congress, the defense ministry says: "in the development of comprehensive instrument, the commercialization of new technology can real-time configuration instruments to achieve various test function... single comprehensive instrument can replace multiple independent instrument function, thus reduce the volume of logistical equipment and solved the problem." the old fashioned facilities [February 2002, defense technology to improve the office report to congress]. Comprehensive instruments and virtual instrument technology has commercialized software and hardware processing characteristics, put this combine can establish a user-defined instruments.
At present, thousands of large-scale companies have started using the virtual instrument technology. Only in production and testing in many manufacturers have in critical project, large-scale product testing application using the virtual instrument technology hardware and software. While in industrial area, the virtual instrument technology has been used in automatic oil drilling and refining, production machines in control, even nuclear reactor control.
Traditional instruments and innovator of difficult problems
As ClaytonChristensen in book with the same title, and described in traditional instruments in the meantime will encounter "innovator problem". Christensen is such descriptions of the phenomenon: new has breakthrough technology will change market prospect and eventually override market leader. In fact, Christensen thought in a market leader's status was new technology after it is hard to overthrow leadership market. In testing and the field of measurement, the traditional instruments through the use of existing framework to improve the measurement performance and ongoing along this direction innovations. And in the virtual instrument technology appeared in the early, because of its measurement performance is lower, so in this case, these disruptive technology with traditional instrument manufacturers, and not a major threat, so they are largely ignored the virtual instrument technology exists. Then came the 1980s and 90s fostered early late start, the virtual instrument technology applied to need flexibility measurements, and these application through the traditional way cannot be realized. To the late 1990s and the 21st century, with the PC processor and commercialization of semiconductor performance and precision of the further improved, and the virtual instrument technology measurement than the original performance has improved a lot. Now, the virtual instrument technology can and traditional instrument measurement performance quite, even more than they are, but also has higher data transfer rate, flexibility and expansibility and lower cost of a system.
In order to prove in consumer market "innovator problem" the principle, we can compare the MP3 and traditional broadcast through measuring instrument media, such as CDS. At the beginning of the traditional audio equipment manufacturer didn't realize MP3 player threat - after all, MP3 reduces the sound quality, and in play when you need the PC and special software. On the other hand, a CD player is easy to use and have special operation interface (button and knob). However, due to MP3 is easily sharing and easy to carry the advantage, so although its flaws, at birth is still some user early high popularity. As time goes on, MP3 quality has been acceptable and MP3 software also had huge development. Now MP3 already became the mainstream and the traditional audio recording and playback industry has caused enormous threat.
Although many of the traditional player manufacturers ultimately through the development of an MP3 player with steering function using this disruptive technology (recently Sony introduced MP3W tong test equipment alkman), but the new market has been first launch MP3 technology by the company leadership. For example, Apple has dominated the music player sales based on hard disk 82 per cent of [NPD, August 2004].
In the test and measurement, industry leaders agilent already market started to swell the virtual instrument technology concepts. For example, agilent recently launched the product includes a set of ethernet-based "comprehensive instrument" and can compatible PXI arbitrary waveform generator, and PXI is industrial standards virtual instrument technology platform. Recently JohnStratton also voiced support for the agilent software defined comprehensive instrument concept: "and current standard adopts frame solutions, compared to other program is using comprehensive instrument. Comprehensive apparatus adopts software algorithm and hardware modules to replace separation test units." [military and avionics, June 2004]. In recently convened investors on congress, agilent chief operating officer BillSullivan puts forward, "turn to use based on the software configuration of modularization instrument, can let users easily repeated configuration and repeated use, this will be testing and measuring the direction for the future of".
PC performance innovation and reduce the cost
In the past two decades, PC performance has improved 10,000 times, any other commercial technology are never had such a high performance growth. Due to the virtual instrument technology USES PC processor to make the measurement analysis, each with the emergence of a new generation of PC processor, using the virtual instrument technology can be achieved new applications. For example, the current 3GHzPC can be used for complex frequency domain and modulation analysis to used for communication test applications. Using the PC (1990 Intel386/16), and 65,000 point F
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