Broad Selection of NI FlexRIO I/O

Publish Date: Sep 19, 2013 | 0 Ratings | 0.00 out of 5 | Print

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Available Modules
  3. Design Philosophy
  4. Custom Adapter Module Development
  5. Unparalleled Benefits
  6. Additional Resources

1. Overview

The NI FlexRIO architecture consists of three parts: NI FlexRIO FPGA modules, NI FlexRIO adapter modules that offer high-performance analog and digital I/O, and the reconfigurable PXI system. All elements are programmed using NI LabVIEW system design software.

 

NI FlexRIO adapter modules are interchangeable, customizable I/O for NI FlexRIO FPGA modules, so you can address a variety of applications with the same programming environment.

 

Figure 1. This PXI system features an NI FlexRIO module and NI FlexRIO adapter module.

 

The combination of a variety of high-performance I/O in an NI FlexRIO adapter module with the reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture in the high-performance NI FlexRIO module allows for protocol aware, high-speed, and flexible applications in a PXI system.

 

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2. Available Modules

A Wide Variety of I/O for Ultimate Flexibility

 

Figure 2. Highlights of NI FlexRIO adapter module capabilities

 

More than 20 NI FlexRIO adapter modules are available for a wide variety of capabilities ranging from high-speed digital input/output to RF and vision. These adapter modules have been created with the express purpose of combining these specific types of I/O with the RIO architecture to develop systems with unparalleled speed, flexibility, and performance.

 

NI FlexRIO helps you get to market faster by combining the RIO architecture with NI FlexRIO adapter modules to build software-designed tools. An example of this would be a software defined radio or a custom vision-based trigger for a larger application. In the past, such processing would not be fast enough to happen in real time and would rely on post processing. With NI FlexRIO, now these applications are possible on a widely available platform.

 

In addition to determinism for automated test, here are examples of applications that benefit from NI FlexRIO:

  • Arbitrary Waveform Generators—Wideband RF and scientific research
  • Digitizers—Nondestructive test and scientific research
  • High-Speed Digital I/O—Protocol aware tools and custom protocols
  • RF—Software defined radio and custom RF protocols
  • Vision—Vision-based control and vision preprocessing

 

Click here to view the full list of NI FlexRIO adapter modules and specifications

 

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3. Design Philosophy

Latest Converters. Lightweight Front Ends. High Performance and Quality.

NI FlexRIO adapter modules provide access to the latest and most exciting data converters as they come on the market, giving you the ability to solve the most challenging high-performance embedded and test applications. NI’s modular approach makes it easy to take advantage of all the processing power and performance of the LabVIEW RIO architecture and the PXI platform, and maintain the high-quality development experience that keeps projects moving on schedule.

 

The most demanding applications seek to use the full performance of the data converters in the adapter module. Although it is common practice in instrumentation to add extra front-end circuitry to select the exact configuration that the device will be used in, unfortunately this comes at the cost of limiting the performance of the converters to that of the switches, selectors, filters, amplifiers, and other additional components. With NI FlexRIO adapter modules, NI has created designs that seek to make the raw capabilities of the converters directly available to the user by minimizing the number of extraneous components on the signal path.

 

Of course, minimizing the number of components in the signal path is not sufficient to provide a high-quality measurement. NI relies on its considerable expertise developing data acquisition and instrumentation equipment to develop I/O adapter modules that are of the highest quality, designed and verified to work consistently and reliably.

 

The design of NI FlexRIO separates processing from I/O. This modular design philosophy means that if an application requires more FPGA resources, DRAM, or data bandwidth for transferring information to and from the host, it can be upgraded to a compatible FPGA module while maintaining the I/O adapter module. Alternatively, as converter technology evolves, if an application needs to scale up in channel count, resolution, or sampling rate, these new needs can be addressed on the same FPGA module by swapping out the I/O adapter module. In both cases, the LabVIEW RIO architecture makes it easy to port the application code to quickly take advantage of the new capabilities.

 

With this design philosophy, National Instruments can design adapter modules that feature the latest silicon in a proven, modular form factor, using lightweight designs that maximize measurement quality. By doing this, NI provides the tools to quickly develop applications using the latest conversion technology, without the expense and risk of a custom design, and with reliability and on a consistent platform.

 

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4. Custom Adapter Module Development

Although National Instruments provides 20+ adapter modules, some applications’ requirements cannot be met with an existing NI FlexRIO I/O adapter module. This may be the case for special combinations of analog input and output, unique digital electrical interfaces, or where certain connectivity is desirable. In these cases, one option is to design a custom adapter module.

 

Engineers with hardware and software development expertise understand better than anyone that fully custom designs are risky, expensive, and difficult to maintain. The best way to minimize the risk is to minimize the complexity of the design, and limit the amount of custom circuitry. A custom NI FlexRIO adapter module minimizes the scope of the design to be limited to exactly the circuit elements that need to be customized for the application. Meanwhile, the NI FlexRIO FPGA module can be relied on to take care of the processing elements that are common to all designs, such as laying out, powering, and validating the FPGA, DRAM, and host communication as well as writing the base software and firmware. This allows NI FlexRIO adapter modules to be developed rapidly. What would take multiple man-years to design an entire custom instrument can now take only months to develop a custom NI FlexRIO adapter module.

 

The NI FlexRIO Adapter Module Development Kit (MDK) provides extensive and detailed documentation to guide you through the process of building your own NI FlexRIO adapter modules to fit your application. Additionally, MDK users have special access to NI support resources and a design review with NI development engineers who use their adapter module development expertise to help identify potential design issues.

   Click here to learn more about NI FlexRIO Adapter Module Development Kit.

 

If you need help designing your own I/O adapter module, National Instruments has NI Alliance Partners who are experienced in RIO and NI FlexRIO adapter module development. An Alliance Partner can work with you to develop an NI FlexRIO adapter module exactly tailored to your application and needs.

 Click here to learn more about NI FlexRIO adapter module Alliance Partners.

 

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5. Unparalleled Benefits

Proprietary protocols, new application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and custom instrumentation can all now be developed with unparalleled performance, time to market, and flexibility using NI FlexRIO, LabVIEW FPGA, and NI FlexRIO adapter modules made for your application.

 

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6. Additional Resources

 

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