What Is NI CompactRIO?

The CompactRIO controller includes a processor and reconfigurable FPGA. The processor is used for network communication, data logging, control, and processing with the deterministic and reliable NI Linux Real-Time OS. With the user-programmable FPGA, you can implement custom hardware for high-speed control, inline data processing, or complex timing and triggering.

Why choose CompactRIO?

Understanding the CompactRIO Platform

CompactRIO systems consist of an embedded controller for communication and processing, a reconfigurable chassis housing the user-programmable FPGA, hot-swappable I/O modules, and graphical LabVIEW software for rapid real-time, Windows, and FPGA programming. Learn more about each of these components in the sections below.


The CompactRIO controller includes a processor and reconfigurable FPGA. The processor is used for network communication, data logging, control, and processing with the deterministic and reliable NI Linux Real-Time OS. With the user-programmable FPGA, you can implement custom hardware for high-speed control, inline data processing, or complex timing and triggering.


The value line is ideal for OEM and volume deployments.

Value controller


The performance line is ideal for applications that require intense, multicore processing capabilities; integrated graphics; or maximum processor peripherals.

Performance controller

Compare Controller Features

  Value Performance
Processor Performance 667 MHz dual core Up to 1.91 GHz quad core
FPGA Performance 85,000 logic cells
220 multipliers

Up to 326,000 logic cells
Up to 840 multipliers

Up to 128 MB DRAM

Operating System NI Linux Real-Time OS NI Linux Real-Time OS
User Interface Remote UI Remote UI/Embedded UI
Ruggedness Up to -40 to 70º C,
passively cooled
Up to -40 to 70º C,
passively cooled
Size Starts at 18 x 9.3 x 8.7 cm3 Starts at 22 x 10.7 x 8.7 cm3
Target Application Examples Smart grid analyzer
Power monitoring
Structural monitoring
Mobile robots
Medical diagnostics and device control
Machine condition monitoring
Chemical process control
Machine vision
Machine control
Automated welding control
ECU prototyping
Turbine control
Industrial robotics
Rapid control prototyping
Oil and gas monitoring


NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) expansion chassis scale the benefits of the NI C Series platform to RIO applications requiring hundreds or even thousands of channels. C Series modules provide integrated signal conditioning and connection terminals, making them an efficient solution for large mixed I/O systems without the need for external custom circuitry and wiring. Each expansion chassis also contains a Xilinx FPGA that is programmable with the LabVIEW FPGA Module, giving you control over high-speed and customizable I/O timing, inline processing, and control.

Explore expansion I/O

MXI-Express RIO Expansion Chassis

NI MXI-Express RIO chassis deliver the highest-performance expansion RIO solution for applications that require custom signal processing and control algorithms and mixed-signal conditioned I/O. Featuring high-throughput and best-in-class FPGAs, these chassis are ideal for hardware-in-the-loop, real-time test and complex research applications. You can daisy chain multiple MXI-Express RIO chassis from supported controllers, which include real-time or Windows CompactRIO, PXI, PC, rack-mount, and industrial controllers. These chassis feature eight or 14 C Series I/O slots each, with up to six chassis per daisy chain and up to eight daisy chains per controller. And with 250 MB/s bus throughput, MXI-Express RIO can handle the most intense data streaming applications.

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Ethernet RIO Expansion Chassis

NI Ethernet RIO chassis offer the most flexible RIO expansion solution by making it easy to add a user-programmable FPGA and mixed-signal conditioned I/O to any Ethernet network. These chassis are ideal for distributed, remote measurement systems and can integrate easily with any real-time CompactRIO system, real-time PXI system, or Windows PC using standard 10/100 Ethernet. Ethernet RIO chassis feature four or eight C Series I/O slots each; an integrated user-programmable FPGA for custom timing, inline processing, and control; a network fail-safe for increased reliability; and support for the LabVIEW FPGA Module and RIO Scan Mode.

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EtherCAT RIO Expansion Chassis

The NI EtherCAT RIO chassis provides deterministic, distributed I/O to maintain the tight timing and synchronization needed for time-critical systems. Using real-time Ethernet, this 8-slot rugged chassis for NI and third-party C Series modules communicates deterministically with any CompactRIO system, real-time industrial controller, or real-time PXI system that has two Ethernet ports. You can daisy chain multiple slave chassis from the controller to expand time-critical applications to high-channel counts while maintaining hard determinism. Plus, you can embed FPGA code on your expansion I/O to offload processing from the controller and reduce response time. The NI 9144 features eight C Series I/O slots and a 2M gate FPGA for custom timing, inline processing, and control.

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Wireless Sensor Network

With the NI wireless sensor network (WSN) product family, you can easily monitor your assets or environment with reliable, battery-powered measurement nodes that offer industrial ratings and local analysis and control capabilities. Each wireless network can scale from tens to hundreds of nodes and seamlessly integrate with existing CompactRIO systems.

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I/O Modules

C Series

C Series modules provide high-accuracy measurements for advanced monitoring and control applications. Each module contains measurement-specific signal conditioning, bank and channel-to-channel isolation options, and support for wide temperature ranges to meet a variety of application and environmental needs—all in a single rugged package. With more than 100 C Series modules for measurement, control, and communication, you can connect your applications to any sensor on any bus.

Shop for C Series modules | Configure your complete CompactRIO system


LabVIEW is the only system design software that delivers an entire toolchain to efficiently design, prototype, and deploy embedded systems for monitoring and control applications. By pairing LabVIEW with hardware based on the LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture, the NI approach to graphical system design increases innovation, enhances productivity, and reduces time to market.

LabVIEW Embedded Control and Monitoring Suite

The LabVIEW Embedded Control and Monitoring Suite features LabVIEW and the recommended add-ons for building embedded control and monitoring systems on NI RIO hardware. The LabVIEW FPGA Module extends the LabVIEW graphical development platform to target FPGAs on NI RIO hardware. This makes FPGA technology easily accessible, so you can define your own control circuitry while reducing the complexity and costs associated with traditional custom hardware. The LabVIEW Real-Time Module builds on LabVIEW to deliver a programming environment for creating reliable, deterministic, and stand-alone embedded systems.

Design embedded control and monitoring systems with LabVIEW

NI Linux Real-Time OS

NI created NI Linux Real-Time, a new Linux distribution intended for embedded systems, with built-in industrial-grade real-time capabilities and the approachability and usability of a desktop OS. Through years of R&D development, the work of the open-source community, and partner contributions, NI Linux Real-Time was designed specifically for reliable and deterministic operation in long-term deployments while offering security improvements and increased resiliency to application crashes. NI is a Silver Member of The Linux Foundation.

Read about NI Linux technology

C/C++ Development Options

With NI Linux Real-Time CompactRIO targets, you can develop, debug, and deploy applications to the open embedded processor written entirely in C or C++ using Eclipse or any other development environment while gaining the benefits of LabVIEW for programming the FPGA. NI provides a single installer that bundles the cross compiler along with the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) and GNU debugger suitable for your target.

Learn about C/C++ development options for embedded systems

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