Archived:Solid-State Hard Drives with PXI Embedded Controllers

Updated Mar 20, 2019

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  • PXI Controller

Issue Details

I am designing an embedded PXI test system that will be exposed to an environment that is not suitable for magnetic hard drive operation. Can I use a solid-state hard drive (SSD) with my PXI embedded controller? Is LabVIEW Real-Time compatible with this option? What are the benefits of using a solid-state hard drive?


PXI Embedded Controllers Compatibility with SSDs

National Instruments PXI Embedded Controllers are compatible with many solid-state hard drives (SSDs).  The PXI-8171 series, PXI-8180 series, PXI-8190, and PXI-8100 series controllers come standard with 2.5" IDE-interface magnetic hard-drives.  These drives can be easily swapped with a 2.5" IDE-interface SSDs.  The PXIe-8103 uses a serial ATA hard drive that you can replace with a serial ATA SSD.

Because of the small size of the PXI Embedded Controllers, any drive with a thickness greater than 9.5 mm will intrude into slot 2 of the PXI chassis, preventing installation of PXI modules in slot 2.  Unless you are willing to keep slot 2 in your PXI system empty, you should select a 2.5" hard drive that is less than 9.5 mm thick. 

As of 2/3/2009 National Instruments sells one 32 GB,2.5 inch solid-state hard drive (SSD) for embedded PXI RT and Windows controllers . The hard drive has a thickness of 0.236 in [5.99 mm] and a width of 2.750 in [69.85 mm]. For more information about dimensions refer to Dimensions of Solid-State Hard Drives Used in PXI Embedded Controllers.

Mechanically, the drive is replaced by simply removing the appropriate screws (8 total) on the hard-drive mount, disconnecting the 2.5" IDE connector, and installing the new solid-state hard drive.  However, once the new solid-state hard-drive is installed, you will still need to install appropriate software (i.e. Windows) onto the blank drive.  For information on operating system installation and boot options for PXI Embedded Controllers, refer to the Related Links section below.


Real-Time Compatibility with SSDs

LabVIEW Real-Time 7.1 and later support solid-state hard drives on RT Series PXI Embedded controllers .  However, the Real-Time Operating System requires that the drive be in FAT32 format.  For information on formatting the hard drive of your PXI Embedded Controller, refer to the Related Links section below.

If you are considering the purchase of a new PXI system, the installation and configuration of a solid-state hard-drive is available through NI Factory Installation Services.  If configuration of the drive is done through NI Factory Installation Services, National Instruments engineers will be able to pre-install all of the necessary software on the solid-state drive before the PXI system is shipped to you.  


Benefits of SSDs

Many PXI Systems are or can be exposed to temperature, shock, and vibration beyond the typical commercial limits of magnetic hard drives.  The ruggedness of a PXI embedded controller can be significantly improved by using a solid-state hard drive. 

Most SSDs can operate at a much wider temperature range than a magnetic hard drive.  A typical range for standard SSDs might be 0 to +70 degrees Celsius, while industrial SSDs will support -40 to +85 degrees Celsius.  Additionally, some SSDs are available with guaranteed functionality up to 17 G random vibration and beyond. 

In environments where there may be increased pressure, such as having a PXI system in a pressurized enclosure, solid-state drives are more stable than mechanical hard-disk drives. The elevated pressure can prevent the HDD from rotating properly and inhibit normal operation. 

While solid-state hard drives boast increased ruggedness over a magnetic hard drive, there is a trade-off that must be considered.  In terms of speed recent SSDs are faster than mechanical hard drives across the board, however, they are also more expensive per GB of storage space.


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