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New controller simplifies embedded system design
National Instruments, Freescale Semiconductor and Wind River are working together to help engineers simplify embedded design, including industrial control and monitoring, with the release of the latest high-performance, real-time controller for the NI CompactRIO platform. The National Instruments cRIO-9014 controller is based on the Freescale MPC5200 processor built on Power Architecture technology and the Wind River VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS) to deliver the processing speed, memory and storage required for a variety of demanding embedded and industrial applications such as high-speed machine control, machine monitoring/protection, in-vehicle data logging and embedded device prototyping.
The cRIO-9014 controller is the second joint development on the CompactRIO platform. Previously the companies worked together on the National Instruments cRIO-9012 controller introduced in November 2006. This project illustrates the companies' ongoing, strategic dedication to helping engineers streamline embedded system development through graphical system design, which integrates a single, open software development platform with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) programmable hardware for quickly designing, prototyping and deploying embedded systems.
Combining key technologies from the three companies, the new cRIO-9014 controller makes CompactRIO an excellent industrial control and monitoring platform that blends capabilities found individually in PLCs, industrial PCs, single-board devices and custom hardware. Traditionally, engineers designing industrial machines or embedded control systems were forced to use multiple hardware and software tools to perform complex algorithms, data logging and custom signal processing.
The CompactRIO programmable automation controller (PAC) platform takes advantage of the reliability of the VxWorks RTOS and the MPC5200 industrial floating-point processor in the new controller, as well as the customisation of the Xilinx FPGA chipset in the chassis, to deliver the ruggedness and reliability of a PLC, the openness and power of industrial or single-board computers and the flexibility and performance of custom hardware. In addition, the CompactRIO embedded system can be programmed with a single, intuitive graphical tool, National Instruments LabVIEW, which makes it easy for domain experts to develop and deploy custom, high-performance industrial embedded solutions.
Don Owen, a Software Engineer at Xerox, comments: "The CompactRIO embedded system and LabVIEW tools allow us to use a single hardware platform to create multiple, high-performance machine testing and monitoring solutions. The increased performance of the new cRIO-9012 and cRIO-9014 controllers allow us to perform significantly more of the signal processing of our monitoring applications directly on distributed CompactRIO systems."
The cRIO-9014 controller delivers the highest processing power, as well as the highest amount of memory and nonvolatile storage, of the entire family of CompactRIO controllers. The new controller has a Freescale 400 MHz MPC5200 processor that contains an integrated floating-point unit and hardware-based memory management unit, providing engineers with fast data throughput to handle complex signal processing algorithms for control prototyping and machine monitoring/protection applications. The Wind River VxWorks RTOS running on the MPC5200 processor provides the controller with dependable performance to reduce jitter and increase reliability for high-speed control applications. The cRIO-9014 controller also contains a fault-tolerant file system, making it ideal for embedded logging applications where reliable logging is critical.
National Instruments explains that the cRIO-9014 complements the existing family of CompactRIO controllers (see table) to deliver the increased performance needed for industrial embedded applications while maintaining the ruggedness, reliability and low cost of the CompactRIO platform.
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