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Dave Jones tears down an NI VB-8034 VirtualBench enhanced All-in-One instrument, finds Zynq SoC and Kintex-7 FPGA

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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Thanks to Dave Jones’ EEVBlog teardown of NI’s (National Instruments’) greatly enhanced VB-8034 VirtualBench All-in-One instrument (DSO, logic analyzer, 5½-digit DMM, arbitrary waveform generator, programmable digital I/O, and power supply in one box), we know a lot more about the high-quality instrument’s internal design. The VB-8034’s DSO has four 350MHz channels in contrast to its predecessor’s two 100MHz channels. Back when NI announced the VB-8034, all I knew was that it was based on a Xilinx Zynq All Programmable SoC like its predecessor, the VB-8012. After watching Dave’s 40-minute teardown video, we now know that the waveform capture and digital processing are performed by a pair of Xilinx devices: A Zynq Z7020 SoC and a Kintex-7 160T FPGA.



NI VB-8034 Virtualbench.jpg


National Instruments VB-8034 enhanced VirtualBench All-in-One instrument



Here’s the EEVblog teardown video for the NI VB-8034:







One of Dave’s high-resolution photos shows the two Xilinx devices on the VB-8034’s main capture and processing board:



NI VB-8034 Zynq and Kintex detail.jpg 


Once Dave wipes the last traces of heat-sink compound from the device appearing in the center of the image, we see it’s a Kintex-7 FPGA, which is obviously handling the DSO waveform capture, stowing digitized samples from the two flanking National Semiconductor dual 1.5Gsamples/sec 8-bit ADCs into four nearby 1Gbit DDR3 SDRAMs (two on the top and two on the bottom of the board) in real time. The device in the lower left of the image is a Zynq Z7020 SoC, which is handling the overall instrument control and the instrument’s GUI and USB/Ethernet/WiFi I/O.


We can again see the benefit of a Xilinx-based platform design in the design of the NI VB-8034. The original VB-8012 instrument was based on the Zynq Z7020 but the VB-8034 has a significantly enhanced DSO (see the specs for these as well as other enhancements). So NI was able to leverage the existing Zynq-based VB-8012 design for a lot of the new instrument but then added the Kintex-7 FPGA for the much beefier DSO (3.5x more bandwidth, 2x the channels).




For more information about NI’s VirtualBench All-in-One instruments, see:













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