National Instruments is introducing a new family of open, FPGA-based hardware for the PXI platform. The NI FlexRIO product family is claimed to be the industry's first commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) system to provide engineers with the flexibility of NI LabVIEW FPGA technology combined with high-speed, instrument-class I/O. With NI FlexRIO, engineers can add custom signal processing algorithms to their PXI-based field-programmable gate array (FPGA) hardware. Then, with interchangeable adapter modules, they can directly interface the FPGA to instrument-class I/O or create their own custom front-end hardware to meet their specific application requirements. With these capabilities, engineers can employ techniques such as in-line processing, hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulation and protocol-aware testing as might be required during the design and testing of complex electronic devices.
Dr James Truchard, President, CEO and Cofounder of National Instruments, says: "LabVIEW FPGA technology will continue to transform instrumentation and extend graphical system design by providing software programmability at the hardware level. NI FlexRIO gives engineers a way to solve applications that were previously impossible with COTS hardware."
NI FlexRIO FPGA modules feature high-performance Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs that engineers can program using the LabVIEW FPGA Module. Previously FPGA technology was limited to a subset of hardware engineers with extensive knowledge in digital design, but LabVIEW FPGA makes this technology available to all engineers through intuitive graphical programming. Using LabVIEW FPGA, engineers gain direct access to raw digital pins on the NI FlexRIO FPGA modules, with 66 differential lines at up to 1Gb/s per pair or 132 single-ended lines at up to 400Mb/s. In addition, NI FlexRIO FPGA modules offer deep onboard memory and the ability to use external clocks.
All NI FlexRIO implementations require two distinct hardware pieces – a PXI FPGA module and an adapter module, which defines the specific I/O capabilities of the system. The first NI FlexRIO adapter module is the NI 6581 high-speed digital I/O adapter, which is suitable for algorithmic pattern generation and protocol-aware tests. The NI 6581 delivers 100MHz of digital I/O (200Mb/s DDR) through 54 single-ended channels with selectable voltage levels including 1.8, 2.5 and 3.3V (5V compatible). National Instruments has also worked with Averna to create a plug-and-play IEEE 1394b adapter module, and expects many additional modules to be available from third parties in the future.
Additionally, NI FlexRIO offers engineers the flexibility to design their own custom adapter modules with the exact converters, buffers, clocks and connectors to meet their application needs. To help engineers develop their own module configurations, the NI FlexRIO Adapter Module Development Kit (MDK) features full documentation on electrical and mechanical design details, including CAD files and PCB outlines as well as various adapter module metal enclosures.
For more information and a four-minute video about NI FlexRIO, go to www.ni.com/flexrio. Alternatively, use the form on this page to request a callback or more information.