Prescaling allows the counter to count a signal that is faster than the maximum timebase of the counter. The cRIO controller offers 8X and 2X prescaling on each counter (prescaling can be disabled). Each prescaler consists of a small, simple counter that counts to eight (or two) and rolls over. This counter can run faster than the larger counters, which simply count the rollovers of this smaller counter. Thus, the prescaler acts as a frequency divider on the Source and puts out a frequency that is one-eighth (or one-half) of what it is accepting as shown in the figure below.
Prescaling is intended to be used for frequency measurement where the measurement is made on a continuous, repetitive signal. The prescaling counter cannot be read; therefore, you cannot determine how many edges have occurred since the previous rollover. Prescaling can be used for event counting provided it is acceptable to have an error of up to seven (or one) ticks. Prescaling can be used when the counter Source is an external signal. Prescaling is not available if the counter Source is one of the internal timebases (80 MHz Timebase, 20 MHz Timebase, or 100 kHz Timebase).