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Open System Design Platform for Embedded Control and Monitoring

National Instruments (NI; Austin, TX) has announced its new cRIO-9068 software-designed controller for embedded control and monitoring, a completely redesigned controller that maintains full NI LabVIEW and I/O compatibility with the CompactRIO platform. The controller features the Xilinx Zynq-7020 All Programmable system on a chip (SoC), which combines a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and Xilinx 7 Series FPGA (field programmable gate array) fabric, on a single chip. The cRIO-9068 controller also introduces the NI Linux Real-Time operating system.

National Instruments

The cRIO-9068 controller, says, NI, brings performance up to four times faster than previous generations as well as ruggedness to the CompactRIO platform, making it well suited for high-volume and OEM applications in harsh environments.

The cRIO-9068’s Xilinx Zynq SoC implements a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with a clock frequency of 667 MHz and an Artix-7 FPGA with 85k logic cells and 220 digital signal processing slices. NI LabVIEW Real-Time graphical system design software uses the NI Linux Real-Time OS on the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9. The latter is said to offer an improved network stack, an improved process scheduler, and an advanced file system with automatic data compression.

This combination of technologies is said to drastically improve system throughput, increase rates of data streaming for logging applications, and reduce latency for closed loop control. Application benchmarks available on the NI website and linked below indicate that the cRIO-9068 offers significant improvements in performance when compared to earlier CompactRIO family controllers.

“Within 24 hours of receiving a cRIO-9068 controller, we ran our existing LabVIEW application software without any problems,” said Bob Leigh, president and CEO of LocalGrid Technologies, in a testimonial supplied by NI. “We were impressed by the easy software transition between CompactRIO systems and by the incredible performance improvement of the new software-designed controller.”

Based on the LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture, the new cRIO-9068 controller offers and extended operating temperature range of -40 °C to 70 °C. Specifications include 512MB of DDR3 memory, 1GB flash storage, eight slots of C Series modular I/O, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, USB host port for such peripherals as a removable drive; dual RS232 serial ports, and an isolated RS485 port for industrial devices.

“Because so many customers have invested in CompactRIO, we took this redesign extremely seriously,” said David Fuller, vice president of applications and embedded software at National Instruments in a press statement. “Our R&D teams re-examined every part of the controller’s design and made sweeping improvements while maintaining complete backward code compatibility.”

In related news, NI announced the 2013 version of LabVIEW. LabVIEW 2013 focuses on three primary areas, according to the company: integrating access to the latest technologies, enhancing the environment so developers are more efficient, and providing access to an ecosystem of training and partner tools. Visit the LabView link below for more information.

Go here for complete details on the cRIO-9068 controller.

Download the NI cRIO-9068 Software-Designed Controller Resource Kit.

Click here for an interactive tour of the cRIO-9068 controller.

See NI cRIO-9068 performance and throughput benchmarks.

Learn more about Zynq SoC features.

Learn more about the ARM Cortex-A9 microprocessor.

See what’s new in in NI LabVIEW 2013.

See why DE’s editors selected NI’s new cRIO-9068 Software-Designed Controller as their Pick of the Week.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.
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