What was interesting to me was something that NI wouldn’t reveal. More precisely, NI displayed a mystery system on the show floor that hinted at things to come. Before I get to that, let me point out a couple systems that were public.

NI showed their recently introduced 802.11ax system, and some interesting developments regarding their PXI-based semiconductor tester. Regarding the latter, NI reported that many customers are now demanding power amps to be tested the way they will be used- with a running DPD (digital pre-distortion) algorithm to reduce effective distortion. I had an interesting chat with David Hall and Charles Schroeder of NI about this. You can debate whether this is needed or not, but if the customer requires it, it’s not much of a debate. The issue is that DPD algorithms are slow when performed with software. NI, using LabView FPGA, has developed DPD algorithms that can be downloaded into the FPGAs resident on their PXI instruments (such as the Vector Signal Transceiver). This was shown running within a semiconductor test system testing a RF power amplifier.

Back to the mystery system. Here it is:

NI Tech demo 2016 Figure 1: What will NI be announcing? The answer lies behind this chassis' faceplate. Now you know as much as I do! From the title, it claims to be a system capable of 500 MHz signal generation and analysis. The chassis has the dimensions and cooling pattern of a PXI chassis, so the hardware products are most likely PXI. I can’t tell whether the faceplate and associated connectors (LAN and USB) are representative of the new system or not.

OK, one more clue. This link goes to an NI page where you can “Be The First To Know”. The last time NI did something like this, they were introducing the VST, so expect something of major importance. The system isn’t real yet. Let’s say it’s in the virtual reality space.

And, that makes it perfect for 5G.