From Rapid Prototyping to Low-Cost Deployment with NI CompactRIO and NI Single-Board RIO

Publish Date: Oct 22, 2012 | 53 Ratings | 3.68 out of 5 |  PDF

Overview

Considering your deployment hardware design goals early in the design process can help you get to market faster. You can eliminate rework and deploy more reliable embedded systems. You can also be machining more quickly by using much of the software and hardware of your prototype within your deployed product.

Table of Contents

  1. The NI Reconfigurable I/O (RIO) Deployment Curve
  2. NI Single-Board RIO Embedded Control and Acquisition Hardware
  3. Deploy Embedded Systems Faster with LabVIEW
  4. LabVIEW Real-Time Module
  5. LabVIEW FPGA Module
  6. Middleware Driver Tools
  7. Transitioning from Prototype to Deployment
  8. Learn More about CompactRIO and NI Single-Board RIO
  9. Learn How to Configure Your System

 

1. The NI Reconfigurable I/O (RIO) Deployment Curve

Figure 1. NI RIO Deployment Curve: Rapid Prototyping to Low-Cost Deployment

National Instruments delivers a variety of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware that shares a common reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture. This architecture combines a real-time processor, a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), and a wide range of I/O, including analog, digital, motion, and communication I/O. Using this standard architecture and NI LabVIEW graphical development tools, you can rapidly design and prototype embedded systems and industrial monitoring and control machines with flexible, high-performance hardware. With complete code reuse, you can quickly turn your prototype into a cost-optimized, deployed system using the same hardware architecture to reduce cost and time to market.

“The CompactRIO embedded system and LabVIEW graphical tools from National Instruments gave us the power to design, prototype, and deploy the control system within our Visica2 medical device quickly and beat our time-to-market goals while saving money by eliminating the need for building custom hardware. The RIO architecture and new low-cost hardware help us even further by allowing us to quickly move to lower-cost hardware when deploying our machines at high volume without having to redesign software or start over from scratch with a new design.”

Jeff Stevens, Principal Systems Engineer, Sanarus Medical

 

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2. NI Single-Board RIO Embedded Control and Acquisition Hardware

New NI Single-Board RIO embedded products extend the family of NI RIO deployment options to low-cost board-level embedded hardware. Again, using the standard NI RIO architecture and LabVIEW, you can rapidly prototype embedded systems with modular, flexible CompactRIO and quickly deploy to the new lower-cost board-level NI Single-Board RIO embedded hardware. Because you can reuse the same LabVIEW code from prototyping to deployment, you can shorten time to market and increase embedded device and machine reliability. The new NI Single-Board RIO products offer the following features:

  • Single-board embedded control and acquisition
  • LabVIEW graphical programming and middleware driver tools for rapid development
  • Onboard real-time processor for reliable, stand-alone operation and signal processing
  • Onboard FPGA chip for custom I/O timing and processing
  • Onboard analog I/O and digital I/O
  • Low-cost RIO system for board-level embedded design

Figure 2. NI Single-Board RIO integrates a processor, FPGA, and analog and digital I/O on a single-board that you can program with LabVIEW graphical tools.

Each NI Single-Board RIO device integrates an embedded real-time processor, a high-performance FPGA, and onboard analog and digital I/O onto a single board. Like all other RIO hardware from NI, the I/O is connected directly to the FPGA, providing low-level customization of timing and I/O signal processing. The FPGA is connected to the embedded real-time processor via a high-speed PCI bus. LabVIEW contains built-in data transfer mechanisms to pass data from the I/O to the FPGA and from the FPGA to the embedded processor for real-time analysis, post-processing, data logging, or communication to a networked host computer. 

“We were able to rapidly prototype our system for FedEx using LabVIEW and CompactRIO and create a final deployed solution with NI Single-Board RIO – all in under a year. …The fact that NI provides hardware and software to quickly prototype and deploy embedded systems was crucial for us. We’re quite sure we wouldn’t have been able to hit our aggressive deadlines without NI tools.” 

Jeremy Snow, President – Ventura Aerospace 

 

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3. Deploy Embedded Systems Faster with LabVIEW

With the LabVIEW graphical development environment, you can program the real-time processor, reconfigurable FPGA, and I/O of your RIO embedded systems for embedded control, monitoring, processing, and logging applications using the same LabVIEW Project. With specialty LabVIEW modules, you can program the real-time processor (LabVIEW Real-Time Module) and the FPGA (LabVIEW FPGA Module). LabVIEW also has an extensive set of middleware drivers that make integrating all of the hardware components of your RIO embedded system (analog and digital I/O, FPGA, processor, peripherals, and memory) a seamless process.

Figure 3. Manage and write all code for the processor, FPGA, and I/O with the LabVIEW Project.

 

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4. LabVIEW Real-Time Module

The embedded real-time processor within the systems is programmed with the LabVIEW Real-Time Module, which includes built-in function blocks for floating-point control, processing, analysis, data logging, and communication. The LabVIEW Real-Time Module includes features such as:

  • LabVIEW shared variable technology for easy networking of distributed embedded real-time systems
  • Deterministic software timing with microsecond resolution
  • More than 600 floating-point advanced control and signal processing functions
  • Integration of existing C/C++ code
  • System replication tools to quickly deploy and duplicate existing systems

 

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5. LabVIEW FPGA Module

You can quickly program the reconfigurable FPGA within RIO hardware systems with the LabVIEW FPGA Module for custom and high-speed control, I/O timing, and signal processing. The LabVIEW FPGA Module comes with the following features:

  • Component-level IP (CLIP) Node for easily integrating existing HDL code
  • FPGA Wizard to quickly architect real-time and FPGA code
  • FPGA Project Wizard to make getting started easy
  • LabVIEW Statechart Module for implementing FPGA-based control, state machines, and more
  • FPGA simulation features to ease development and debugging
  • Fixed-point FPGA IP function blocks
    • Fast Fourier transform (FFT)
    • Multichannel PID
    • Signal generators
    • Notch filter
    • View all of the prebuilt LabVIEW FPGA functions and IP at the IPNet

 

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6. Middleware Driver Tools

One of the biggest challenges in embedded design is the effort required to create, debug, and validate driver-level software stacks to integrate all of the hardware components of the embedded system. Traditionally, this integration process is left to the user, which complicates and lengthens the embedded system design process.

NI middleware drivers go beyond the basic drivers that traditional single-board computer and other embedded system providers offer to deliver increased productivity and performance and short time to market. Driver software and additional configuration services software are included with every RIO-supported device. The built-in middleware driver tools contain the following functionality:

  • Built-in functions for interfacing between analog, digital, motion, and communication I/O and the FPGA
  • Transfer functions for data communication between the FPGA and processor
  • Methods for interfacing the FPGA/processor to memory
  • Functions for interfacing the processor to peripherals (RS232 serial, Ethernet)
  • Multithreaded drivers for high performance

 

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7. Transitioning from Prototype to Deployment

The RIO platform with multiple form factors offers a variety of prototyping and deployment options. The CompactRIO integrated system and NI Single-Board RIO provide the best features for higher-volume embedded systems. Like other board-level products, NI Single-Board RIO embedded hardware requires you to ensure your design conforms to standard compliance requirements, such as electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), and allows for adequate heat dissipation. Packaged, off-the-shelf CompactRIO systems deliver these certifications. Consider the specifications in Table 1 to determine which RIO hardware best meets your application needs.

 

 

CompactRIO Modular Systems

CompactRIO Integrated Systems

NI Single-Board RIO

Temperature range

-40 to 70 ºC

-20 to 55 ºC

-20 to 55 ºC

EMC certifications

Mechanical enclosure provided

Ability to mix and match controller and chassis

C Series slots or expansion

4 or 8 slots

8 slots

3 connectors for expansion I/O

LabVIEW Real-Time Scan Mode support √ (cRIO-9103, cRIO-9104) √ (cRIO-9073, cRIO-9074)

Full-speed USB host port for USB-based storage

Internal nonvolatile storage

Up to 2 GB

Up to 256 MB

Up to 256 MB

Power supply input range

Dual 9 to 35 VDC

Single 19 to 30 VDC

Single 19 to 30 VDC

FPGA

Xilinx Virtex FPGA

Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA

Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA

 Table 1. NI RIO Hardware Comparison

 

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8. Learn More about CompactRIO and NI Single-Board RIO

What Is CompactRIO?

What Is NI Single-Board RIO?

What's New with CompactRIO

Learn more about NI's approach to prototyping

 

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9. Learn How to Configure Your System

Configure Your CompactRIO System

NI Single-Board RIO Product Selection Guide

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