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Determining the Power Consumption of a PXI(e) System

Updated Aug 10, 2021

Issue Details

  • How do I calculate the power consumption of my PXI(e) system? 
  • I am configuring a new PXI(e) system and I want to perform a power budget to understand if my power supply will be able to supply enough power to my chassis and PXI(e) cards.
  • I am looking at purchasing a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and need to know the power consumption of my system in order to choose a proper UPS.


To determine the power budget for your PXI(e) system there are three components that must be considered: the power supply, the controller and modules, and the chassis. 
  1. Analyze the power supply to determine how much power can be provided.
Every PXI(e) backplane has four voltage rails that are available to all controllers and modules. The specifications per rail of the power supply can be found in the user manual for your chassis.

For example, the specifications per fail of the power supply contained in the PXIe-1085 are:
PXIe-10853.3 V5 V+12 V-12 V5 VAUX
Maximum Current60 A44 A62 A4 A2 A

  1. Determine which controller and modules will be used and calculate the power consumed by each.
To determine if the specifications of the power supply are sufficient, you must now calculate the total current draw for the controller and each module in the chassis. The maximum current draw values can be found in the User Manual / Device Specifications of each controller and module. Although it is unlikely that all modules will be drawing the maximum current at the same time, these values are used to account for all current draw conditions.

For example, consider a system with a PXIe-1085 chassis, a PXIe-8880 embedded controller, a PXIe-4304 SC Express module, a PXIe-6376 Multifunction I/O module, and a PXI-5154 Oscilloscope module. Find the power requirements for each card and calculate the total maximum current for each voltage rail.
 3.3 V5 V+12 V-12 V5 VAUX
PXIe-88802.96 A3.11 A8.7 A     0.23 A
PXIe-43041.1 A     1.1 A          
PXIe-63761.4 A     1.3 A          
PXI-51541.7 A1.8 A0.52 A0.2 A     
Total Current7.16 A4.91 A11.62 A0.2 A0.23 A

If any voltage rail exceeds the specifications of what the power supply can handle from part 1, then the performance of a particular module or the chassis as a whole would be unpredictable. This unpredictability could range from unexpected system shutdowns to decreased input and output measurement accuracy. Exceeding the power supply specifications may also result in potential damage to the power supply or modules in the chassis. 

To find the total power, multiply the current on each rail by it's voltage value and then sum the power. 
Total Power (W) = 7.16A(3.3V) + 4.91A(5V) + 11.62A(12V) + 0.2A(12V) + 0.23A(5V) = 191.12W
  1. Determine which chassis will be used and find the power consumed by the chassis.
Use this article  to determine the empty power draw of your chassis. National Instruments measures the power consumption independent of the power supply; therefore efficiency is built into the state values. 

For example, the empty chassis power draw of the PXIe-1085 is 95W. 
  1. Calculate the overall power consumption of your PXI(e) System
​​​​​​​Look in the user manual of your chassis to determine the efficiency of your power supply. Power supply efficiency is the ratio of output power to input power. This specification denotes how well the power supply can handle different amounts of power draw. 

Calculate the overall power consumption using the following equation:
Power (W) = [Total Power from part 2 (W) / Power Supply Efficiency] + Empty Chassis Power Draw from part 3 (W)

For example, overall power consumption of the above system is:
Power(W) = [191.12W / 0.7] + 95W = 368W

Additional Information

A power budget is a measure of how much power is consumed by a PXI chassis and the components within the chassis. The budget takes into account the capacity of the power supply in the PXI chassis at a given temperature, as well as the power requirements of all components in the system. Efficiency is also a key element of the budget in order to compensate for real-world performance of electrical equipment and variations with time.

It is important to know the amount of power required for the chassis itself because several elements, such as fans and LEDs, require additional power outside of the power needed for the controller and modules. Because the power for the chassis is also provided by the power supply, this value must also factor into the overall power budget.