High-end compact controller is 4x faster, gets an open Linux-based design

National Instruments redesigns NI CompactRIO from the inside out. The new NI cRIO-9068 software-designed controller is part of the most advanced and open system design platform for embedded control and monitoring systems, the company said. NI introduces the controller during the first keynote session of its NIWeek conference and show on Aug. 6.


National Instruments redesigns NI CompactRIO from the inside out. The new NI cRIO-9068 software-designed controller is part of the most advanced and open system design platform for embedded control and monitoring systems, the company said. NI introduces the controller during the first keynote session of its NIWeek conference and show on Aug. 6. Courtesy: National InstrumentsNational Instruments (Nasdaq: NATI) announces the new cRIO-9068 software-designed controller. The rugged, redesigned controller maintains full NI LabVIEW and I/O compatibility with the CompactRIO platform and uses Linux as its operating system. Other CompactRio systems use VxWorks from Wind River Systems. The new controller integrates state-of-the-art technologies including 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 fabric. NI made the announcement during the opening keynote session of its NIWeek conference in Austin, Texas, Aug. 6.

Sebastien Boria, mechatronics technology leader / Future of Aircraft Factory, Airbus, said the new tools reduced a year’s worth of programming to a few weeks and takes advantage of two vibrant coding communities, Linux and LabVIEW.

Bob Leigh, president and CEO of LocalGrid Technologies, another pre-release user, said, “Within 24 hours of receiving a cRIO-9068 controller, we ran our existing LabVIEW application software without any problems. 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 CompactRIO controller helps meet any demanding embedded control and monitoring task without wasting development time and cost. Engineers and scientists worldwide use the CompactRIO platform to build systems that can suppress fires on cargo airplanes, generate electricity through the flight of tethered kites and precisely stack 20 tons of wet concrete.

The new cRIO-9068 controller has:

• Four times faster performance than previous generations, powered by a 667 MHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA. The processors are integrated into one chip speeding communications between them.

• New Linux-based, real-time OS that provides greater flexibility for both LabVIEW Real-Time and C/C++ application developers

• Extended operating temperature range of -40 C to 70 C

• Consistent LabVIEW programming experience that ensures new and existing designs take advantage of updated technology with minimal effort.

“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. “Our R&D teams re-examined every part of the controller’s design and made sweeping improvements while maintaining complete backward code compatibility.”

The cRIO-9068 controller, programmed with LabVIEW system design software, enables engineers and scientists to use one graphical development environment to take advantage of improved hardware performance. LabVIEW 2013 support for the NI Linux Real-Time OS gives developers access to a rich set of community-sourced libraries and applications to augment their control and monitoring systems, the company said. LabVIEW 2013 also offers expanded connectivity options including improved web service creation and secure, industry-standard WebDAV browser-based file management.

“The combination of the cRIO-9068 controller and Kollmorgen AKD motor drives, with direct integration through LabVIEW NI SoftMotion, helped us simplify and rapidly complete the development of the machine’s control system,” said Kennes Wang of Master Machinery Corp. “Additionally, the help of NI technical support professionals greatly reduced development time.”

Robert Stewart, president of Lime Instruments, LLC, a global provider of control and instrumentation solutions for the energy industry, said, “The increased performance and capabilities, ultra-rugged specifications and affordable price of the cRIO-9068 make it ideal for our next generation of oil field and electrical grid products.” Further, “NI Linux-RT really opens up the CompactRIO system to advanced customization,” said James Ritter, software engineering manager at Lime Instruments, LLC. “We can take advantage of the remarkable amount of software in the Linux community to improve network security, more easily manage our systems remotely or use open-source code libraries with ease.” Stewart added that new platform allows Lime Instruments to outperform its competitors.



- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

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