Design is an inherently iterative process. No matter the scope of the application, every design cycle proceeds from definition to simulation, prototyping, and testing, and, more often than not, these stages are repeated throughout progressive revisions. Having the means to alternate quickly between stages is paramount to optimize the design process. Graphical system design with LabVIEW meets this need with a single platform encompassing the entire design cycle. Furthermore, reconfigurable hardware combined with the LabVIEW FPGA Module offers unmatched hardware and software flexibility for design, prototyping, and deployment.
Reconfigurable hardware features user-defined, onboard FPGA processing for complete control of system timing and triggering. You can configure the FPGA chip without any prior VHDL experience by creating LabVIEW block diagrams with the LabVIEW FPGA Module, giving you direct, immediate control over all the I/O. This process delivers high-performance, user-configurable timing and synchronization, as well as onboard decision making, at rates up to and exceeding 40 MHz.
For example, if you are developing applications with unsupported or custom digital communication protocols, you can use the LabVIEW FPGA Module to quickly implement or prototype different communication interfaces on FPGA-based R Series multifunction RIO hardware.
Figure 4. Custom Digital Protocols with R Series multifunction RIO and LabVIEW FPGA
Using LabVIEW FPGA, you can program each device’s “personality.” A personality is essentially a compiled bitfile containing configuration information that is downloaded to the onboard FPGA. Rather than use a device with a fixed personality or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), you have the ability to customize your board. Changing personalities as you proceed through the various iterations of a design cycle or prototype is as simple as modifying a LabVIEW block diagram and recompiling it. Once a personality is complete, LabVIEW FPGA is no longer required because the device may be accessed through LabVIEW for Windows or LabVIEW Real-Time. For more information on custom RIO personalities, see the related links below.
NI reconfigurable I/O hardware offers up to 160 digital lines that you can individually configure for input, output, counter/timer, pulse-width modulation, and more. Table 3 summarizes these options.
NI 783xR, 784xR, 785xR Reconfigurable Multifunction I/O Module
PCI, PXI, USB
48 to 96
4 to 8
4 to 8
NI 781xR, NI 782x
Reconfigurable Digital I/O Module
PCI, PXI, PXIe
128 to 160
Table 3. National Instruments R Series Multifunction RIO
NI high-speed digital I/O devices offer another option for many common tests incorporated in the digital device design process. For applications requiring high-speed stimulus-response tests or nonstandard voltage levels, for example, NI HSDIO devices complement multifunction RIO devices in the design cycle. HSDIO devices can also interface with higher-speed devices, transferring data at rates up to 400 Mb/s. Refer to the related links below for more information.