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Prototyping hardware reduces development times

21st February 2013


National Instruments is launching a new suite of prototyping hardware that makes it possible for engineers and scientists to prototype industrial and embedded projects faster, reduce time to market and lower development costs.

The five new NI Compactrio reconfigurable chassis feature a Xilinx Virtex-5 field-programmable gate array (FPGA), which is the largest and fastest FPGA available today in NI's hardware range.

Additionally, the new NI cRIO-9022 controller features a Freescale 533MHz industrial real-time processor that delivers faster real-time processing for time-critical control applications. This new suite of hardware, along with NI Labview graphical programming tools, is suitable for engineers and start-up companies prototyping industrial and embedded projects within areas such as renewable energy, medical device design and robotics.

With graphical system design tools from NI, engineers can use a single, high-level graphical programming tool with off-the-shelf hardware including FPGAs, processors and I/O to design and prototype a project faster and with lower development costs. This approach makes it possible for small teams of engineers to build a prototype quickly to evaluate and prove the value of their next project.

Barry Price, director of business development at KCBioMedix, a medical device company that developed an innovative device to help feed premature babies, comments: "Initially, we began our design process using a custom embedded solution and worked with a third-party company to commercialise the treatment. When it became clear that the cost was too high, we decided to bring the development in house. With Labview and Compactrio, we were able to reduce our development cost by $250,000. In addition, we were able to reduce our development time from four months to four weeks."

The new NI cRIO-911x reconfigurable chassis combined with the Labview FPGA Module helps engineers and scientists take advantage of FPGA technology with off-the-shelf hardware for rapid prototyping without the burden of custom hardware design. Additionally, Labview FPGA technology features hundreds of pre-built graphical intellectual property (IP) blocks for signal processing, communication protocols, control and interfacing to analogue and digital I/O, as well as the ability to integrate existing VHDL code or IP for even faster development. The cRIO-911x chassis are available with four or eight slots that can be filled with any assortment of the more than 65 third-party and NI C Series I/O modules for quick connectivity to a variety of digital and analogue sensors and actuators during the prototyping process.

The new cRIO-9022 controller is programmed with the Labview Real-Time Module, which provides more than 600 built-in function blocks for quick implementation of floating-point signal processing and control operations, data logging and communication as well as the ability to integrate existing ANSI C/C++ code. The controller features dual Ethernet ports for high-speed networking and deterministic expansion I/O, which is suitable for high-channel-count applications. The cRIO-9022 also accepts 9 to 35 VDC power supply inputs on power-up and 6-35V DC power supply inputs during operation and can operate for long periods of time in remote applications using a battery or solar power. For additional storage capability, the controller features a Hi-Speed USB port to connect to an external USB-based flash or hard drive. The cRIO-9022 connects to any of the four- or eight-slot cRIO-911x chassis.

Because of the ruggedness and small size of Compactrio, engineers and scientists are able to deploy their prototypes directly into harsh environments and machines. With the ability to deploy the hardware and software, engineers and scientists can reuse their entire designs from the prototyping phase and greatly reduce time to market.

For more information, visit www.ni.com







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