Greater product sophistication, along with the incorporation of radio frequency in an increasing number of devices, is compelling engineers to change their test strategy according to research from Frost & Sullivan.
They are increasingly adopting modular tools that are flexible enough to be customized to their testing needs so that the market for modular instruments which had revenue of $524.3 million in 2010 is estimated to grow to $1.17 billion in 2017.
Apart from changing the way devices need to be tested, Frost and Sullivan says Moore's Law is improving the functionality of modular instruments. For instance, while RF with PXI was almost an impracticable concept a decade ago, today, RF instrumentation in a small form factor offers very high performance.
“PXI instrumentation has strongly benefitted from technology innovation in semiconductors and more specifically, processors, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and data converters,” said Frost & Sullivan Industry Director Jessy Cavazos. “Advancements in FPGA capabilities are extremely useful in test and measurement applications, wherein customers need highly deterministic and fast processing capabilities.”
Although these product improvements bode well for the modular instruments testing market, manufacturers will be challenged to replace the traditional instruments. While users are expected to gradually shift to modular instruments, they still predominantly use traditional rack-and-stack instrumentation due to product familiarity and ease of use.
In 2010, traditional instruments accounted for almost 85 percent of the total market revenue for general purpose test equipment worldwide. Even though its revenue share is decreasing, it will continue to remain a prominent revenue generator in the total market for the next five years.
“Modular instruments' vendors should not only convey the instrumentation's ability to lower the costs of tests and address specific testing needs, but also focus on lesser-known advantages such as the scalability of such instrumentation,” said Cavazos.
As the complexity of devices will increase the need to integrate the test at the beginning of the design process, customers will be attracted to the products' ability to scale, leveraging R&D investments, and bridging the gap between R&D and production throughout the product lifecycle.