Archive for the ‘fpga’ Category

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I’m going to contradict myself in this month’s blog post. I don’t use clichés much, however I (usually) find them to be accurate and descriptive. (Note: because most clichés have become trite or irritating, we often forget that their novel origin was based in truth). Let me take you back to when I started at NI.

 

In the late ‘90s, reprogrammable silicon was considered mainstream across consumer, automotive, and industrial applications. Based on the critical invention of the XC2064 FPGA by Freeman and Vondershmitt, the FPGA was becoming a coveted technology for the compute power, field-upgradability, and performance capabilities. However, tools to program the FPGA prevented domain expert access: creating a technology that was too good to be true. Or so I thought.

 

In 2001, I began working with an in-development product we had demoed at NIWeek a few years earlier, but hadn’t released yet. This not-so-secret project, code named “RVI” or reconfigurable virtual instrumentation, was a graphical design approach to programming an FPGA. Having a computer science and math background, abstract and software-centric is more comfortable and familiar to me than meticulous hardware design. So the idea that you (or even a CS-person like me) could abstract a ton of silicon details and program the hardware with a productive tool like LabVIEW (rather than an HDL) seemed impossible.

 

This is where the contradiction begins. It wasn’t too good to be true; the cliché was wrong. It was good AND it was true. Luckily, I could rely on another well-known phrase used at NI to describe the innovation taking place: “the genius of the AND” inspired by author Jim Collins. With productive, graphical programming; system abstraction; AND hardware design for dedicated determinism including 25 ns I/O response, protocol customization, and rapid prototyping, LabVIEW FPGA breaks the cliché.

 

I’m not the only geek who gets excited about this capability. Stijn Schacht of T&M Solutions took advantage of the control accuracy of an FPGA to lift 20-metric-ton unbalanced trays of uncured concrete more than 6 meters while maintaining a strict accuracy of two millimeters. Because he used LabVIEW to get that precision from the FPGA, his team developed an application in only two months and was able to reuse the modular code for their next project.

 

Kurt Osborne at Ford Motor Company is a believer as well. Ford used LabVIEW FPGA to design and implement a real-time embedded control system for an automotive fuel cell system.

 

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The LabVIEW Communications environment enables an entire design team to map an idea from algorithm to FPGA using a single high-level representation.

 

So what’s next? I encourage you to explore the latest cliché contradiction that takes FPGA design to the next level – LabVIEW Communications System Design Suite.

 

LabVIEW Communications is a complete design flow (with bundled software defined radio hardware) for wireless communications algorithms. This suite includes everything from an integrated FPGA flow, to an HLS compiler, to a new canvas (Multirate Diagram) for streaming algorithms, and an innovative way to explore your hardware system with the NI System Designer. The genius of the AND lives on in LabVIEW Communications.

 

Explore the latest cliché contradiction today at ni.com/labview-communications.

 

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Today’s Featured Author

Shelley Gretlein is a self-proclaimed software geek and robot aficionado. As NI’s director of software marketing, you can find Shelley championing LabVIEW from keynote stages to user forums to elevator conversations. You can follow her on Twitter at @LadyLabVIEW.


FPGAs provide the performance and reliability of custom hardware like ASICs, without their long and expensive design cycles. NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) devices let you harness the power and convenience of FPGAs in your applications. With the LabVIEW FPGA module, you can program FPGAs in the same graphical programming language that you use to program desktop and real-time systems. With examples and code snippets, the NI LabVIEW High-Performance FPGA Developer’s Guide teaches you low-level optimization techniques to get the highest performance out of your FPGA hardware.

 

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If you are already familiar with LabVIEW or the LabVIEW FPGA Module, use this guide to learn about advanced LabVIEW FPGA concepts to help you tackle more demanding applications that require high throughput, precise timing control, or increased FPGA resource efficiency.

 

For an introduction to FPGA-based design, see the FPGA Fundamentals white paper on ni.com.

 

To understand what an FPGA is, and why you would use it in your application, see the Introduction to FPGA Technology: Top 5 Benefits white paper on ni.com.

Here’s part two of our LabVIEW 2012 features list. See something you want changed? Let the community know by sharing it on the LabVIEW Idea Exchange. We have a proven track record of listening to—and acting upon—requests made from our community.

 

Enhanced Stability

NI’s research and development team has made substantial efforts to improve the stability of LabVIEW 2012. In this version, you’ll see how their hard work paid off. But stability isn’t the only focus. Improving the edit-time responsiveness of the entire LabVIEW platform was also a priority, as well as a better error reporter and higher prioritization of CARs.

 

FPGA Enhancements
LabVIEW FPGA lets designers use less engineering resources and get to market faster. Powerful new features, like faster compilation and tools for simplifying IP resuse, shorten development time and improve the performance of applications.

 

System Simulation

The LabVIEW Robotics Simulator, based on the Open Dynamics Engine, is a physics-based simulator that emulates robotics design, letting developers validate design and algorithm choices more efficiently and effectively.

 

Ecosystem Improvements

The “NI ecosystem” is another way of saying our users’ community—their access to each other and extras (like package downloads, add-ons, and instrument drivers). These all help to increase productivity, while offering a large space for certified developers to discuss and grow their ideas. Explore the network to see how it can benefit you.

 

>> See all of the new features for LabVIEW 2012.

Hold on to your electric vehicle seat; energy is going digital. When a technology goes digital, it changes everything. For starters, the rate of technology improvement takes a new slope—transitioning from glacially slow to exponentially fast. Think about online search and how it changed the way we find information, how social media changed the way we receive news, and how electronic books and e-readers changed the way we buy books. When a technology goes digital, words like “library,” “newspaper,” and “bookstore” start to sound like relics of the past.

 

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When an analog technology goes digital, it becomes an information technology—a software problem. The digital energy revolution is enabled by powerful software tools, ample computing power, secure Internet backbones, specialized embedded hardware systems, and one more thing—power electronics.

 

To read more specifics on how you will be impacted by this digital revolution in energy, check out this article>>>

NI LabVIEW is a diverse graphical system design tool, and people who use it are doing some awesome things. LabVIEW is used in almost every industry, and when it comes to the medical industry, nothing compares. Researchers using LabVIEW are making huge progress in their industries, and the latest and greatest from the medical industry is a cost-effective liver dialysis prototype for clinical trials.

 

 



 

 

 

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"The combination of LabVIEW and CompactRIO hardware significantly contributed to the deployment success of the prototype of our innovative liver dialysis therapy. Using NI technologies helped us deliver the first system within just seven months.”  Holger Chab, Hepa Wash GmbH

 

 

 

Researchers at Hepa Wash wanted to create a prototype that met performance and specification requirements set forth by the company, and achieved medical device safety under guidelines set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission. Researchers used the LabVIEW FPGA and LabVIEW Real-Time modules with NI CompactRIO hardware to control the liver dialysis therapy prototype, as well as NI Requirements Gateway software to automatically create traceability documentation between requirements, tests, and design. By using all of these tools Hepa Wash achieved authorization for clinical studies within seven months.

 

 

 

>> See how using LabVIEW makes emergency room visits shorter.

We just introduced new additions to NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) technology – a reconfigurable Camera Link frame grabber, a motion module for the NI CompactRIO platform, and six new custom brushless DC motors.

 

Ideal for advanced inspection and imaging applications, the NI PCIe-1473R frame grabber is a PC-based embedded vision board that combines FPGA technology with a Camera Link interface. The new frame grabber’s onboard FPGA can be programmed with the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module for custom image processing and analysis in real time. It also features a high-bandwidth 850 MB/s Camera Link bus to support a range of Camera Link configurations and includes Power over Camera Link (PoCL) wireless capabilities, removing the need for additional cables or external power supply.

 

For advanced motion control challenges, the NI 9502 motion drive module for CompactRIO can power brushless, stepper or brushed servo motors directly with NI C Series modules to provide a compact, highly customizable motion drive solution. With 4 A continuous/8 A peak current, multiple commutation modes and direct connectivity with our six new three-phase brushless DC motors and integration with LabVIEW FPGA, the NI 9502 helps engineers implement proprietary custom drive control algorithms, eliminating the need for custom firmware from a drive manufacturer.

 

Check out the frame grabber at www.ni.com/vision and learn more about the drive modules and motors at ni.com/motion.

NI has expanded its reconfigurable I/O (RIO) platform with the addition of the highest performance and first multicore CompactRIO systems and smallest NI Single-Board RIO devices.

 

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The new NI cRIO-908x systems feature an Intel® Core™ i7 dual-core 1.33 GHz processor and up to a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA to deliver the highest processing power of any CompactRIO product. The controllers can be configured with a Windows Embedded Standard 7 OS configuration, which gives you access to a broad ecosystem of Windows-based software and integrated graphics, or a real-time OS for reliable, deterministic performance. The systems provide a variety of high-performance peripheral connectivity including two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a MXI Express port, four USB ports, RS232 and RS485 serial ports and a new CPU eXpansion Module (CXM) that makes it possible to add custom connectivity and expansion to CompactRIO using industry standard protocols.

 

For high-volume and OEM applications, the new NI sbRIO-9605/06 devices are sized from less than 102.87 mm x 96.52 mm and offer greater customization and I/O support than previous versions. The devices feature a 400 MHz processor and Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA to provide reliability and performance at a low price point. The devices also offer built-in peripherals such as RS232, CAN, USB and Ethernet. Additionally, the new devices feature a high-density and high-bandwidth connecter that gives you direct access to the FPGA and processor as well as the ability to add peripherals for further customization.

 

NI RIO technology combines LabVIEW with commercial off-the-shelf hardware to simplify development and shorten time to market when designing advanced control, monitoring and test systems. NI RIO hardware, which includes CompactRIO, NI Single-Board RIO, R Series boards and PXI-based NI FlexRIO, features an architecture with powerful floating-point processors, reconfigurable FPGAs and modular I/O. All NI RIO hardware components are programmed with LabVIEW to give you the ability to rapidly create custom timing, signal processing and control for I/O without requiring expertise in low-level hardware description languages or board-level design.

 

Visit www.ni.com/compactrio to learn more about the cRIO-908x systems and www.ni.com/singleboard to learn more about the new NI Single-Board RIO devices.