IVI Foundation Completes Instrument Driver Specifications
The four-year-old foundation, an open consortium of companies, defines software standards for instrument interchangeability.
With the IVI Foundation standard instrument driver specifications, engineers can swap instruments without recompiling software. The new specifications help users preserve software on long-life test systems when instruments become obsolete or maximize the use of existing resources by deploying one software system to test systems built with different instrument hardware.
To exhibit the success of the new specifications, the foundation presented demonstrations from a number of member companies, including Agilent Technologies, Keithley Instruments, National Instruments, and Rohde & Schwarz. The presentations focused on the capability of the IVI architecture to provide ease of integration and use, simulation, speed through state caching, multivendor interoperability, and hardware and software interchangeability.
Earlier this year at the recommendation of the IVI Technical Committee, the foundation's board of directors approved nine core architectural specifications and eight instrument class specifications. The architectural specifications define the framework for all IVI instrument drivers and the mechanism engineers can use to interchange instruments.
The IVI Foundation designed the framework to provide C or COM driver interfaces that are usable in a variety of development environments. These specifications also define features that make the drivers easy to use and include advanced capabilities such as simulation and state caching.
The class specifications deliver common programming interfaces for communicating with instruments of the same class. The specifications cover the following classes: DC power supply, digital multimeter, function and arbitrary waveform generator, oscilloscope, power meter, RF signal generator, spectrum analyzer, and switch. Engineers who use these common programming interfaces can exchange instruments with few or no changes to their test-program software.
"The IVI Foundation also completed implementation and testing of the IVI shared components, which are basic building blocks that all IVI instrument drivers depend on." These components perform common system services and ensure that IVI instrument drivers from multiple vendors are interoperable in the same system.
The IVI Foundation, formed in 1998, was officially incorporated in 2001. Membership includes end users, major instrument and software vendors, and system suppliers and integrators. The board of directors is comprised of representatives from Agilent Technologies, Keithley Instruments, National Instruments, Pacific MindWorks, Racal Instruments, Rohde & Schwarz, Tektronix, Teradyne, TYX, and Vektrex Electronic Systems.