Instrument Driver

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An Instrument Driver, in the context of test and measurement (T&M) application development, is a set of software routines that simplifies remote instrument control. Instrument Drivers are specified by the IVI Foundation[1] and define an I/O abstraction layer using Virtual Instrument Software Architecture (VISA). The VISA hardware abstraction layer provides an interface-independent communication channel to T&M instruments. Furthermore, the Instrument Drivers encapsulate the Standard Commands for Programmable Instruments (SCPI) commands, which are an ASCII-based set of commands for reading and writing instrument settings and measurement data. This standard allows an abstract way of using various programming languages to program remote-control applications instead of using SCPI commands. An Instrument Driver usually has a well-defined API.


VXIplug&play Instrument Driver[edit]

The VXIplug&play Systems Alliance was founded in 1993[2] with the aim of unifying VXI hardware and software to achieve 'plug and play' interoperability for VXI and GPIB instruments. As part of the unifying process, VXIplug&play instrument drivers[3] were also defined.

IVI Instrument Drivers[edit]

When the IVI Foundation took over the Alliance in 2002, it defined a new generation of instrument drivers to replace the VXIplug&play standard. The IVI instrument driver specification intends to overcome the drawbacks of VXIplug&play. These IVI (Interchangeable Virtual Instrumentation) drivers[4] are currently defined in three different architectures:

  1. The IVI-COM driver architecture[5] is based on the Microsoft Component Object Model.
  2. The IVI-C drivers are based on C programming language shared components (shared libraries).
  3. The IVI.NET driver architecture was specified in 2010.[5][6] The IVI.NET drivers are based on the .NET framework.

Remote Control of Instrumentation[edit]

Instrument Drivers allow quicker development of remote-control applications for instrumentation. The drivers reduce the difficulty of string formatting when using SCPI commands by providing a well-defined API. The IVI and VXIplug&play Instrument Drivers use the VISA as the hardware abstraction layer so that hardware-independent applications can be developed.

I/O Hardware Abstraction Layer VISA[edit]

The VISA library allows test & measurement equipment to be connected through various hardware interfaces. The following interfaces are available:


The LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation (LXI) standard defines the communications protocols for controlling the arming, triggering and event functions of LXI instrumentation using Ethernet.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]