Using PXI with an Apple Computer

Updated Oct 20, 2023

Reported In

Hardware

  • PXIe-8301

Operating System

  • Mac OS X

Issue Details

I want to use a MXI-controlled PXI system (chassis) connected to my Mac computer. What options do I have?

Solution

To use a remote controller that runs in macOS we need three things to work: physical layer support, application development environment (ADE) support, driver support. There are limitations for each of them.
  • Physical layer: some Mac computers have PCI and PCIe connections, browse the PXI Remote Control Module to observe the different options available for purchase. An option available for most Mac laptops is the use of the Thunderbolt ports with the PXIe-8301. i.e MacBook Pro 2017 Thunderbolt™ 3 Remote Control of PXI Test Systems
  • Make sure to check that you have firmware for your Thunderbolt ports.
  • ADE support: There's no LabWindows/CVI support for macOS. 

    LabVIEW 2023 Q3 is the final release of LabVIEW for macOS. Starting with releases in 2024, LabVIEW is available only on Windows and Linux OSes.

  • Driver support: there's a limited set of drivers available for macOS. (i.e NI-488.2 18.0NI-VISA 18.0NI-DAQmx Base 15.0, and NI System Configuration 18.0 are some of them.) There are important limitations of not having PXI Platform Services and Modular Instrument drivers, for example a limited support of NI modules and not being able to access the PXI backplane trigger routing.
Note: NI-DAQmx Base is compatible with macOS 10.14 and earlier versions – check macOS compatibilityfor all supported versions for this driver. For more information, please read the End-of-Life Announcement for DAQmx Base Driver .

An alternative to the challenges presented before is to use Boot Camp. This allows to run Windows on a Mac computer and thus have support to all the same functionalities available for Windows.

Additional Information

  • Currently there are no PXI Embedded Controllers installed with macOS by default.
  • Running Windows via a virtual machine is not recommended. The use of virtualization software is not able to route Thunderbolt 3 data between the host and the virtual machines causing problems.
  • It is also important to ensure that the desired PXI modules are compatible with Mac OS X. For example, DAQmx Base and its hardware is supported, but NI-HSDIO is not supported on Mac OS X. If none of the desired modules are supported, it's futile to attempt to use MXI to connect to the chassis.