All NI real-time hardware platforms are based on a common architecture, which means that programs that you write with LabVIEW Real-Time will work across different NI hardware with only minor modifications, or without modifications. Specifically, each hardware platform features off-the-shelf computing components including a processor, RAM, nonvolatile storage, and an I/O bus interface. Some hardware platforms feature a user-programmable FPGA that you can program using the LabVIEW FPGA Module.
PXI (PCI Extensions for Instrumentation)
The industry-standard PXI platform consists of a rugged chassis with integrated timing and triggering lines, an embedded controller, and plug-in I/O modules. Serial, USB, Gigabit Ethernet, and GPIB ports are also built into the controller. PXI real-time hardware can be programmed using either LabVIEW Real-Time or LabWindows/CVI Real-Time.
If you have an existing PXI controller running Windows that you would like to change to a real-time controller, you can purchase a LabVIEW Real-Time Deployment License to convert your controller, or even set up a dual-boot system.
You can assemble your own PXI real-time system including controller, chassis, I/O modules, and software using the online PXI Advisor.
Figure 4. PXI hardware provides a rugged, high-performance option for your real-time projects.
NI PXI hardware is often used for high-performance real-time systems such as hardware-in-the-loop testing of electronic control units and vibration analysis for machine-condition monitoring applications. When using a real-time PXI system, your applications have access to advanced timing and synchronization hardware features that simplify precise I/O triggering and multimodule synchronization.
CompactRIO combines a real-time processor, an FPGA, and C Series I/O modules, and comes in both packed and board-level form factors. In addition, serial, USB, and Ethernet ports are built into the controller.
You can assemble your own CompactRIO system including controller, I/O modules, and software using the online CompactRIO Advisor.
Figure 5. Packaged CompactRIO controllers provide a flexible, rugged, and portable option for real-time applications.
You can program the processor on CompactRIO controllers using LabVIEW Real-Time or your C/C++ development tool of choice. You can also develop FPGA code using LabVIEW FPGA. To access IO data on the processor, you can use the NI-DAQmx API, NI's best-in-class programming API for measurements, or NI Scan Engine. Alternative, you can access data directly from the FPGA with LabVIEW FPGA.
Figure 6. CompactRIO's heterogeneous architecture features a real-time processor, reconfigurable FPGA, and I/O.
CompactRIO hardware is often used for industrial applications including condition monitoring, hardware-in-the-loop test, physical systems test, and machine control.
CompactRIO board-level controllers, such as CompactRIO Single-Board Controllers (sbRIO) and NI System on Module (SOM), have the same architecture as packaged CompactRIO controllers, but come without rugged packaging, and have a smaller form factor.
Figure 7. CompactRIO board-level controllers feature the same architecture as packaged CompactRIO controllers, but in a smaller form factor.
High-volume applications that require flexibility, reliability, and high performance can benefit from CompactRIO Single-Board Controllers or System On Modules.
NI Industrial Controllers are high-performance, fanless industrial computers that offer the highest level of processing power and connectivity for automated image processing, data acquisition, and control applications in extreme environments. These controllers feature up to a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 dual-core processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 64 GB storage in a rugged design with no moving parts, and an IP rating up to IP67. A Kintex-7 FPGA improves system performance by providing custom I/O timing, synchronization, control, and image co-processing.
Figure 8. Industrial controllers feature high processing power and connectivity ideal for vision systems.
NI Industrial Controllers give you the ideal connectivity for communication and synchronization to Time Sensitive Networking (TSN)-enabled CompactDAQ chassis, EtherCAT and Ethernet CompactRIO chassis, EtherCAT motion drives, GigE Vision and USB3 Vision cameras, and other automation equipment. In addition, this controller has onboard ISO, TTL, and differential digital I/O, so it can perform synchronization and control tasks without additional tethered I/O.
Still have questions? NI representatives can help you choose the right software, hardware, and I/O for your real-time program—no matter the size of your system.