An Introduction to the NI LabVIEW RIO Architecture

Publish Date: Jan 03, 2014 | 3 Ratings | 3.33 out of 5 |  PDF

Overview

The NI LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture is an integral part of the NI graphical system design platform. A modern approach to designing, prototyping, and deploying monitoring and control systems, graphical system design combines the open NI LabVIEW graphical programming environment with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to dramatically simplify development, which results in higher-quality designs with the ability to incorporate custom design.

Table of Contents

  1. The NI LabVIEW RIO Architecture
  2. NI RIO Hardware Devices
  3. Explore RIO

1. The NI LabVIEW RIO Architecture

Figure 1. RIO System Architecture

The NI LabVIEW RIO architecture is based on four components: a processor, a reconfigurable field-programmable gate array (FPGA), modular I/O hardware, and graphical design software. Combined, these components give you the ability to rapidly create custom hardware circuitry with high-performance I/O and unprecedented flexibility in system timing control.

Processor

The processor is used to deploy code to communicate with other processing units such as the FPGA, interface with peripherals, log data, and run applications. NI offers RIO hardware systems in a variety of form factors ranging from high-performance multicore systems with symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) running the Microsoft Windows OS to small, real-time embedded systems such as NI Single-Board RIO and CompactRIO.

FPGA

The reconfigurable FPGA is the core of the RIO hardware system architecture. It is used to offload intensive tasks from the processor and provide deterministic execution with extremely high throughput. The FPGA is directly connected to the I/O modules for high-performance access to the I/O circuitry of each module and unlimited timing, triggering, and synchronization flexibility. Because each module is connected directly to the FPGA rather than through a bus, you experience almost no control latency for system response compared to other industrial controllers.


Because of the FPGA speed, RIO hardware is frequently used to create controller systems that incorporate high-speed buffered I/O, very fast control loops, or custom signal filtering. For instance, using the FPGA, a single CompactRIO chassis can execute more than 20 analog proportional integral derivative (PID) control loops simultaneously at a rate of 100 kHz. Additionally, because the FPGA runs all code in hardware, it provides the high reliability and determinism that is ideal for hardware-based interlocks, custom timing and triggering, or the elimination of the custom circuitry normally required with custom sensors.

Modular I/O

NI C Series I/O modules contain isolation, conversion circuitry, signal conditioning, and built-in connectivity for direct connection to industrial sensors/actuators. By offering a variety of wiring options and integrating the connector junction box into the modules, a RIO system significantly reduces space requirements and field-wiring costs.

Figure 2. You can choose from more than 100 I/O modules for NI RIO systems to connect to almost any sensor or actuator.

You can choose from more than 100 NI and 3rd party developed C Series I/O modules to connect to almost any sensor or actuator. Additionally, with the NI cRIO-9951 CompactRIO Module Development Kit, you can develop custom modules to meet application-specific needs.

LabVIEW Development Platform

National Instruments provides a complete development solution for the graphical system design of embedded applications so you can efficiently design, prototype, and deploy your system on a single software platform. With LabVIEW graphical system design software, you can develop applications for the processor, synthesize your own custom measurement circuitry on the FPGA, and then seamlessly integrate the two with modular I/O to create a complete RIO solution.

Figure 3. LabVIEW offers a complete RIO development platform.

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2. NI RIO Hardware Devices

 

Figure 4. RIO Device Matrix

CompactRIO

CompactRIO is a small, rugged RIO system ideal for embedded and prototyping applications. Configurable with four- and eight-slot backplanes featuring a variety of FPGA options, as well as a variety of processor choices for the controller, CompactRIO offers the widest range of configuration options in the RIO family. You also can purchase CompactRIO as a low-cost integrated system or use it to architect truly distributed systems with the NI 9144 deterministic Ethernet expansion chassis.

cRIO2.tif

Figure 5. CompactRIO, Integrated CompactRIO, and CompactRIO Deterministic Ethernet Expansion Chassis

NI MXI-Express RIO

The MXI-Express RIO chassis is the latest addition to the NI RIO platform. A 14-slot FPGA enabled chassis for C-series I/O modules, MXI-Express RIO differs from the other devices in the NI RIO platform in that it decouples the FPGA and I/O from the processor, and  allows multiple chassis to communicate to the same controller over a x1 MXI Express connection.

By providing a cabled RIO solution MXI-Express RIO allows

  • Greater flexibility in system configuration
  • Higher channel counts
  • C Series expansion I/O for existing PXI systems. 

Figure 6. The MXIe-RIO combines the advantages of the RIO platform with the speed and power of best-in-class PXI and Industrial controllers

NI Single-Board RIO

NI Single-Board RIO devices integrate the RIO system components (real-time processor, FPGA, and I/O) on a single board, and are designed for high-volume, embedded control and acquisition applications that require high performance and reliability.  

SBRIO.tif

Figure 7. NI Single-Board RIO

NI FlexRIO

NI FlexRIO hardware provides flexible, customizable I/O for the LabVIEW FPGA Module to create high-performance, reconfigurable instruments. With an open, customizable signal front end, you can meet the exact requirements of a test or embedded system. You can design specific analog-to-digital converters, digital buffers, connectors, and even channel counts to work in concert with an FPGA target programmable with LabVIEW.

FlexRIO.tif

Figure 8. NI FlexRIO systems, consisting of an adapter module and PXI FPGA module, offer a new level of customization for LabVIEW FPGA applications.

NI myRIO

Featuring National Instruments industry-standard reconfigurable I/O (RIO) technology, NI myRIO places dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 real-time performance and a customizable Xilinx FPGA in the hands of students. Using this integrated hardware and software tool, students can quickly create applications on NI myRIO's real-time processor leveraging the default FPGA personality which they can customize as projects become more advanced. With its onboard devices, seamless software experience, and library of courseware and tutorials, NI myRIO provides educators an affordable tool to teach multiple design concepts on one device and gives students the technology to complete real-world design projects in one semester.

Figure 9. NI myRIO is an embedded hardware device designed specifically to help students design real, complex engineering systems more quickly and affordably than ever before.

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3. Explore RIO

The advantages of the LabVIEW RIO architecture continue to be verified through customer successes. Explore the benefits of reconfigurable technology for your application area to see how you can design, prototype, and deploy more effectively.

Industrial
Embedded
Test
  • Plant Control
  • Motion Control
  • Machine Monitoring
  • Robotics
  • Medical Device Design
  • Renewable Energy
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Hardware-in-the-Loop
  • Rapid Control Prototyping

 

 

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