Table of Contents
LXI is Expected to Become the Next-generation Control Interface for Test Systems
The global LXI market is growing, replacing GPIB as the main control interface for box instrumentation. The increasing demand for automation and consumer electronics-like capabilities from instrumentation is driving growth. In this research service, Frost & Sullivan has attempted to quanitfy the market for such instrumentation, keeping in mind that a significant number of instruments are purchased for manual use, and that even in automated use cases, other interfaces are available on the devices. Key industry challenges, drivers, and restraints are identified and form the basis for the revenue forecast. A detailed competitive analysis is also included. The base year is 2012 and the forecast period runs from 2013 to 2019.
Local area network (LAN) eXtension for Instrumentation (LXI) is the next-generation control interface for box instrumentation. Introduced in 2005, the standard has witnessed significant adoption among instrument vendors. Such instrumentation is used across end-user industries.
Key industries for LXI include:
- Aerospace and defense (A&D)
- Industrial electronics
- Consumer electronics
- Others (including semiconductors, education, medical, and energy)
Manual versus automated
General-purpose test equipment is used across a product's life cycle - from research and development (R&D) in the laboratories and manufacturing in production to installation and maintenance (I&M). The LXI port of many LXI-compliant instruments is never used as most of these instruments are used in a manual fashion. Frost & Sullivan has made an effort to exclude such revenues from the market size to provide an accurate picture of the LXI market.
Most box instruments feature multiple interfaces, including general-purpose interface bus (GPIB) and universal serial bus (USB). Even when making automated measurements, users may employ a different technology to connect the various instruments of their test system.
Frost & Sullivan has made an effort to exclude revenues from other interfaces to provide an accurate picture of the LXI market.
P X I
Some products are based on modular standards such as peripheral component interconnect (PCI) eXtension for Instrumentation (PXI), which fit into an LXI chassis. However, revenues for all PXI modules are not included in the market size.
The LXI market comprises manufacturers that are LXI-compliant. In 2012, this included the following companies: Agilent, Rohde & Schwarz (R&S), Danaher Corporation (Danaher) (Tektronix, Inc./Keithley Instruments Inc.), Pickering, VTI Instruments Corporation (VTI), AMETEK, Inc. (AMETEK), Kikusui Electronics Corporation (Kikusui), TDK-Lambda Corporation (TDK), Kepco Inc. (Kepco), Teledyne LeCroy (Teledyne), Data Translation, Inc. (Data Translation), Bustec, Aeroflex, Yokogawa Electric Corporation (Yokogawa), Rigol Technologies Inc. (Rigol), JDS Uniphase Corporation (JDSU), Thurlby Thandar Instruments Ltd. (Thurlby), Magna-Power Electronics, Inc. (Magna), Chroma ATE Inc. (Chroma), Chyng Hong, ZTEC Instruments, Inc. (ZTEC), Beijing Aerospace, EADS North America Test and Services (EADS), Good Will Instrument Co. (Good Will), TEGAM Inc. (TEGAM), Hitech International Group (Hitech), C&H Technologies, Inc. (C&H), LXinstruments, GOEPEL electronics Ltd. (GOEPEL), Informtest, and Maury Microwave Corporation (Maury). Except for Agilent, most companies operate in specific market segments; for instance, R&S in radio frequency (RF) and microwave (MW); Teledyne, Tektronix, and Yokogawa in oscilloscopes; AMETEK, Kikusui, TDK, Kepco, Magna, and Chroma in power supplies; VTI, Data Translation, and Bustec in data acquisition; and Pickering in switches.
From an LXI perspective, leading participants include Agilent, R&S, AMETEK, Danaher, VTI, Kikusui, Aeroflex, Teledyne, TDK, JDSU, and Pickering. Companies specifically involved in driving standards include Agilent, R&S, VTI, and Pickering.
Some companies are part of the ecosystem but do not offer LXI. These include National Instruments Corporation (National Instruments) and The MathWorks, Inc. (MathWorks), which provide software solutions for test systems that address LXI. Wheelwright Enterprises (Wheelwright) provides LXI conformance testing services.
At present, LXI includes the following technologies:
- Power supplies, power analyzers, source measurement units (SMUs), and parametric measurement units (PMUs)
- Function generators, signal generators, and arbitrary waveform generators
- Digital multimeters and other basic measurements such as inductance capacitance resistance (LCR) meters
- Spectrum analyzers/signal analyzers
- Network analyzers
- Power meters
- Physical measurement cards (temperature, pressure, strain)
- Others (including up/down converters)
Opportunities and Forecast
In 2012, the LXI market generated a revenue of $ million. It is expected to continue to gain share in the automated box instrumentation space and reach a revenue of $ million in 2019. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2012 to 2019 is estimated at percent.
Factors expected to drive market growth over the forecast period include the following:
- Usage benefits of LAN-based instrumentation
- Increasing demand for automation
- Adoption of LXI among test vendors
- Cost advantages of LXI
- Backward compatibility and speed of Ethernet
- Need for performance
- Distance advantages of Ethernet
Factors expected to restrain market growth over the forecast period include the following:
- Familiarity, reliability, and ease of use of GPIB
- Continued uncertainty in the economy
- Lack of awareness among customers about LXI and its benefits
- IT and security concerns
- Growth of modular instrumentation
- Inherent latency in Ethernet and improvements needed in 1588
Market Segment Analysis
Over the past five years, the diversity of LXI-compliant instruments has increased. In 2007, most LXI-compliant instruments were power supplies. Today, RF is generating significant revenue, and, from a volume standpoint, low-cost DC-type product categories are of significance.
All leading vendors of oscilloscopes have adopted the LXI standard, with Agilent leading the way. The oscilloscopes market is a large one, representing the most extensive product category in the overall general-purpose test equipment market. However, its importance is low in the LXI market because a large part of it is manual.
Switches is a relatively important product category in the LXI market. Companies such as Agilent, Pickering, and VTI are actively involved in The LXI Consortium and are driving the standard forward.
Although signal generators, spectrum analyzers, and network analyzers represent a small share in terms of number of LXI-compliant products, from a revenue perspective, the high price points of such devices increases their share in the LXI market. In the data acquisition space, VTI and Bustec are strong advocates of the LXI standard. However, the primary concern of customers is to obtain complete solutions, including support, software, and sensor coverage. The standard on which the solution is based is not a priority, which lowers the share of LXI in this space.
Low-end devices such as digital multimeters and power meters hold a small share in the LXI market. Most often, they are connected via USB.
The LXI market is anticipated to witness growth from 2013 to 2019. However, participants will face significant challenges, including the following:
- Uncertainty in the economy
- Increasing complexity of electronics
- Slow rate of change in the test and measurement (T&M) industry
- Lack of awareness about LXI
- Demand for a consumer electronics-like user experience from instrumentation
- Growth of PXI
- Customer expectations for higher Ethernet speed
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