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Software and hardware IP simplifies FPGA development

National Instruments has unveiled a new suite of software and hardware intellectual property (IP) to make it easier to use field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) in measurement, control and signal processing applications. Collaborating with its worldwide network of customers, integrators and National Instruments Alliance Partners, NI is now making available the FPGA IPNet www.ni.com/ipnet to provide an open forum for sharing LabVIEW FPGA IP and new hardware I/O modules for analogue and digital I/O, communication buses/protocols and motion control. The newly available resources make it easier for engineers and scientists without hardware design experience to integrate FPGA technology into their test and control applications.

Engineers continue to use FPGAs instead of custom hardware because of FPGA reconfigurability, short development time, low cost and high performance; however, programming and integrating FPGAs into control, acquisition and test systems remains difficult. The IPNet offers engineers instant access to more than 100 FPGA IP functions for maths and signal processing, data acquisition, signal generation, control, digital communication protocols and sensor simulation. By taking advantage of existing IP, engineers can reduce FPGA development time by using ready-to-run IP for tasks including digital filtering, proportional integral derivative (PID) control and serial peripheral interface (SPI) communication. Furthermore, as NI and the LabVIEW FPGA community create more IP, the IPNet will extend and become an increasingly effective venue for sharing and acquiring new code.

Dr James Truchard, NI President, CEO and co-founder, comments: "FPGAs are a key hardware technology for empowering engineers and scientists to easily solve demanding test and control application challenges, but FPGAs are also difficult to program and integrate into existing hardware for engineers who are not design experts. We are excited to make IP widely available so domain experts can now save time and still take advantage of the benefits of FPGA technology without incurring new costs or requiring additional training."

NI is working with NI Alliance Partners to create a family of C Series I/O modules to directly connect the FPGA within NI CompactRIO hardware to real-world sensors, actuators and communication protocols. NI recently hosted the first CompactRIO Plugfest event where CompactRIO module developers tested their modules for compatibility within the CompactRIO platform. More than ten companies were represented, and there are now more than 25 third-party modules for CompactRIO and more than 60 C Series modules total for analogue and digital I/O, communication buses and protocols, motion control and more.

 

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