Figure 1. The cRIO-9068 controller offers incredible performance, flexibility, and ruggedness.
For nearly 10 years, the CompactRIO platform has set the standard for embedded control and monitoring systems. All CompactRIO systems are based on the NI LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture, which combines a real-time processor, reconfigurable FPGA, and modular NI C Series I/O and is programmed with LabVIEW system design software. The value line of CompactRIO controllers delivers remarkable performance and ruggedness to the CompactRIO platform at a value price, making it well suited for high-volume and OEM applications in harsh environments. These software-designed controllers feature the Xilinx Zynq all-programmable system on a chip (SoC), which combines an ARM-based processor and 7 Series FPGA fabric on a single chip. Along with the integration of Zynq, value CompactRIO controllers introduces a new level of openness to CompactRIO with the NI Linux Real-Time OS. Linux offers expanded flexibility to reuse existing code while still maintaining the familiar LabVIEW development experience.
The CompactRIO value controllers uses an ARM-based processor, a first in CompactRIO history. The same technology powers your smartphone and other consumer electronics that require high-performance processing and low-power consumption. The integrated Zynq SoC offers a 667 MHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. This dual-core processor provides a 4X performance boost compared to the similarly priced 8-slot integrated NI cRIO-9074.
The CompactRIO value controllers feature 7 Series FPGA fabric from Xilinx. The 7 Series FPGA fabric offers higher performance and 50 percent lower power consumption per cell than previous generations and uses 28 nm technology, allowing for more logic cells and digital signal processing (DSP) slices on the same size chip. These controllers feature Artix-7 FPGA fabric with 85,000 logic cells and 220 DSP slices offering nearly a 2X increase in logic cells and 4X increase in DSP slices compared to the cRIO-9074. With additional FPGA space, you can implement more advanced control, signal processing, filtering, advanced timing, and other logic than ever before.
Xilinx created the Zynq SoC in part because of the success of the NI LabVIEW RIO architecture. By placing the processor and FPGA fabric on the same die, the Zynq SoC goes beyond what any discrete components are capable of, such as having 10,000 interconnects between the processor and FPGA fabric. With a large number of interconnects, this CompactRIO controller combined with LabVIEW system design software can stream 300 MB/s of data through 16 DMA channels. Along with improved interconnectivity, the dual-core ARM-based processor provides remarkable performance for real-world applications. See Table 1 for a benchmark comparison of sample real-world applications tested on a cRIO-9074 controller featuring a 400 MHz single-core processor and a cRIO-9068 controller featuring a 667 MHz dual-core ARM processor.
Complex Application (CPU %used)
Streaming Sample (CPU %used)
Control Sample (CPU %used)
Table 1: Application benchmarks between the cRIO-9074 and cRIO-9068 controllers
National Instruments has invested in a real-time OS (RTOS) based on Linux. This underlying technology provides a new level of openness to the CompactRIO platform that gives LabVIEW users the ability to access the vast library of community-sourced applications and IP in and alongside LabVIEW applications. National Instruments also has an NI Alliance Partner Network of more than 800 companies worldwide, several of whom specialize in embedded control. Whether it is products, systems, integration, or consulting and training services, Alliance Partners are uniquely equipped to help solve some of the toughest engineering projects.
The Latest Technologies and the Familiar LabVIEW Development Environment
Traditionally, developing applications with all of the technologies offered by the cRIO-9068 controller would take substantial engineering investment, including a team of engineers using a wide array of tools. With a platform-based approach that pairs this CompactRIO controller with a single integrated tool chain, namely LabVIEW, you can create, debug, and deploy software applications for the processor, FPGA, and I/O. Now with the cRIO-9068 controller, you can use this same single tool chain as previous CompactRIO controllers and innovate with the latest technologies to take advantage of their remarkable performance and flexibility.
Because CompactRIO follows a platform-based approach, most existing applications can simply be opened, recompiled with no changes, and run on the higher performance cRIO-9068 controller. The redesigned CompactRIO controller, which adds support for the Eclipse Development Environment, also gives you the freedom to reuse existing C/C++ code or development expertise. Now you can integrate code libraries into your LabVIEW Real-Time application, or even develop your own stand-alone executable interfacing directly to your LabVIEW FPGA application. You have the flexibility to develop using the tools that best suit your task and capabilities.
Size, weight, and I/O channel density are critical design requirements in many embedded applications. By taking advantage of the extreme performance of FPGA devices, CompactRIO value controllers deliver unprecedented control and acquisition capabilities in a compact, rugged package with a temperature range of up to -40 to 70 °C (-40 to 158 °F); 50 g shock rating; redundant power supply inputs; and a variety of international safety, Hazloc, and environmental certifications and ratings for operation in harsh industrial environments.
Connect to a wide array of additional hardware through the many connectivity options on the CompactRIO value controllers. Connect up to eight hot-swappable NI C Series I/O modules to the CompactRIO chassis for a variety of measurements or control signals. Establish multiple network connections with up to two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Use the Hi-Speed USB ports to connect to peripherals, such as a Basler Ace USB 3 camera, or use it to log data to an external storage medium. Leverage RS232 serial ports or the RS485 serial port on the cRIO-9068 to connect to a multitude of devices such as motor drives, specialized instruments, or character displays.
The value line of CompactRIO controllers bring many new technologies to CompactRIO that can benefit your next embedded design. With a 4X processor performance increase and a larger FPGA than the cRIO-9074, these controllers provides remarkable performance at a very competitive price. The rugged nature of CompactRIO and the extended temperature range of this product make it ideal for applications exposed to harsh environments. The Linux-based OS provides a new level of flexibility to CompactRIO with a massive open ecosystem. Also, because all CompactRIO controllers are based on the LabVIEW RIO architecture, your existing application can instantly upgrade to the latest controller and take advantage of improved performance, flexibility, and ruggedness.
The CompactRIO value controller is available today. Order the stand-alone controller to upgrade an existing application to the latest technology and increase performance, or configure a completely new system using the online CompactRIO Advisor.