CompactRIO and NI industrial controllers are some of the products NI offers for vision systems. As mentioned earlier, processing power and number of cameras directly impact the overall performance of a machine vision system. To understand the differences between these products, you can compare their performance when used as controllers for a pick-and-place machine where one or many cameras are used to identify parts to be picked. The overall performance of this machine is measured in terms of the number of parts that can be identified per second.
Your individual application needs dictate which controller is best suited for your application. A more detailed overview of each product is provided below.
CompactRIO is ideal for vision applications that require powerful processing along with modular I/O for automation, measurement, and control tasks. The latest performance CompactRIO models share the same quad-core Intel Atom processor as Compact Vision Systems and provide connectivity to GigE Vision cameras and USB3 Vision cameras that are USB 2.0 backward compatible.
Additionally, CompactRIO offers up to eight slots for use with over a hundred of C Series I/O modules so you can connect to any sensor on any bus. CompactRIO also offers the benefit of accelerated image processing through the use of a built-in user-programmable FPGA. This means that the CPU and FPGA can work together to coprocess images and reduce processing times. CompactRIO can easily integrate with PLCs and operator interfaces using its built-in RS232/RS485 port or industrial communication C Series modules. CompactRIO also has a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet port for network connectivity, and two USB 2.0 ports for external data storage. With enterprise connectivity, you can also monitor the inspection results, view images, or store data in databases for statistical process control.
NI industrial controllers are vision-optimized industrial computers. They have four independently controlled GigE ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel i7 processor, and a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA, which makes them the most powerful embedded controllers for vision applications offered by NI. Although NI industrial controllers lack integrated slots for C Series I/O, an Ethernet or EtherCAT expansion chassis can be connected to add I/O to the system. The industrial controller’s large FPGA and powerful processor can be used together to coprocess images faster, which reduces latency.
Additionally, the system can send commands and data to other devices, such as PLCs and operator interfaces, using industrial protocols such as Ethernet/IP, RS232/RS485, Modbus serial, and Modbus/TCP. Industrial controllers also have a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet port for network connectivity, and four USB 2.0 ports for external data storage. With enterprise connectivity, you can also monitor the inspection results, view images, or store data in databases for statistical process control. The NI industrial controller is best suited for high-performance multicamera applications where processing speed is critical.