What Is NI CompactRIO?

CompactRIO is a reconfigurable embedded control and acquisition system. The CompactRIO system’s rugged hardware architecture includes I/O modules, a reconfigurable FPGA chassis, and an embedded controller. Additionally, CompactRIO is programmed with NI LabVIEW graphical programming tools and can be used in a variety of embedded control and monitoring applications.

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 LabVIEW Real-Time OS or the flexible Windows Embedded Standard 7 OS. The user-programmable FPGA gives you the ability to 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 Up to 667 MHz dual core Up to 1.33 GHz dual core
FPGA Performance Up to 85,000 logic cells
Up to 220 multipliers

Up to 326,000 logic cells
Up to 840 multipliers

Operating System Real-Time OS Windows/Real-Time OS
Ruggedness Up to -40 to 70º C,
passively cooled
Up to -40 to 70º C,
passively cooled
Size Starts at 17.8 x 9.3 x 8.7 cm3 Starts at 22 x 10.9 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 a graphical development environment with configuration-based tools and powerful programming capabilities for developing measurement, analysis, and control applications with professional user interfaces. The LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture makes FPGA technology easily accessible, so you can define your own control circuitry while reducing the complexity and costs associated with traditional custom hardware.

LabVIEW Development System

LabVIEW is a graphical programming environment used by millions of engineers and scientists to develop sophisticated measurement, test, and control systems using intuitive graphical icons and wires that resemble a flowchart. It offers unrivaled integration with thousands of hardware devices and provides hundreds of built-in libraries for advanced analysis and data visualization—all for creating virtual instrumentation. The LabVIEW platform is scalable across multiple targets and OSs, and, since its introduction in 1986, it has become an industry leader. The LabVIEW Real-Time and FPGA modules allow you to develop, debug, and deploy applications to the microprocessor and FPGA on the CompactRIO system.

Design embedded control and monitoring systems with LabVIEW

LabVIEW Real-Time Module

National Instruments real-time technology offers reliable, deterministic performance for your time-critical applications. Use the LabVIEW Real-Time Module to develop and deploy complex real-time systems quickly and efficiently to the CompactRIO microprocessor.

Explore the details


With the LabVIEW FPGA Module, you can create custom measurement and control hardware using graphical programming without having expertise in low-level hardware description languages or board-level design. You can use this custom hardware for unique timing and triggering routines, ultra high-speed control, interfacing to digital protocols, digital signal processing, RF and communications, and many other applications requiring high-speed hardware reliability and tight determinism. Use the module to develop, compile, and deploy applications to the CompactRIO on board FPGA.

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