NI adds measurement and synchronization technology to its CompactRIO platform

NI, provider of platform-based systems, announced Thursday CompactRIO Controllers that include NI-DAQmx and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN). These controllers offer deterministic communication and synchronized measurements across standard Ethernet networks to increase performance and help improve productivity in addition to flexibility.

NI was the first to market with industrial embedded hardware supporting TSN, the next evolution of the IEEE 802.11 Ethernet standard, and provides these controllers as part of its continued investment in TSN. Engineers can use TSN to synchronize distributed systems across networks, which eliminates the need for costly synchronization cables.

The CompactRIO controllers feature submicrosecond synchronization with TSN over standard Ethernet for tightly synchronized, distributed measurements and control; shorter time to measurement than previous CompactRIO controllers because of NI-DAQmx driver software; open and secure processing at the edge of the IIoT with the NI Linux Real-Time OS; high-performance data analysis and control with an industrial-grade processor and onboard FPGA, programmable with LabVIEW FPGA; and reliable operation in harsh environments with -40 °C to 70 °C operating temperature range, shock resistance up to 50 g and vibration resistance up to 5 g.

With the addition of NI-DAQmx to the CompactRIO Controller family, engineers can access I/O directly from ready-to-use functions, which have made working with this driver the preferred data acquisition method for over 15 years. This intuitive driver coupled with the openness of the NI Linux Real-Time OS means users can continue to leverage the vast ecosystem of IP available for Linux, like Security Enhanced Linux (SE-Linux).

As industries such as automotive, oil and gas, research and aerospace continue to implement the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), acquiring accurate, reliable and synchronized data across distributed nodes has become more challenging. As a result, companies must keep pace to ensure their systems are ready to meet these evolving requirements.

In addition to dual port TSN support and multiple programming modes optimized for different tasks, CompactRIO with NI-DAQmx offers several other features as well.

The CompactRIO with NI-DAQmx controllers use the Intel Atom E3900 series Apollo Lake processors to achieve the highest performance ever in a CompactRIO controller.  USB3 and Ultra High Speed (UHS) SD removable storage address the demands of high performance data logging with double the memory density and increased performance to allow for more analysis and control. Display is provided via ruggedized USB Type-C connectors to integrate a human machine interface (HMI) into your data logging, control, or monitoring application.  

These performance improvements are achieved while maintaining the same physical dimensions and environmental specifications as its predecessors. The Intel processor runs NI Linux Real-Time, a real-time OS based on a standard kernel and designed specifically for reliable and deterministic operation in long-term deployments.

The user programmable FPGA allows you to offload time-critical processes for advanced control, signal-processing, filtering, advanced timing, and other logic. Beyond direct access to I/O for high speed control, the FPGA can help process and analyze data to accelerate time to insight and decision making.

NI uses the latest FPGA technology from Xilinx, with chips that contain up to 236,080 logic cells, and 840 DSP slices. Rather than traditional HDL tools, the FPGA is programmed using LabVIEW FPGA for a more intuitive experience to programming the hardware.

Beyond supporting NI-DAQmx on CompactRIO, the driver has also improved to allow for more customization and control. The new controllers provide a hardware timing engine per slot to allow for better customization with multi-rate applications. They also support deterministic control up to 5 kHz with the addition of support for Hardware-Timed Single Point.

Using hardware-timed single-point, samples are acquired or generated continuously using hardware timing and no buffer. Use hardware-timed single-point sample mode if the user needs to know if a loop executes in a given amount of time, such as in a control application.

As there is no buffer if using hardware-timed single-point sample mode, ensure that reads or writes execute fast enough to keep up with hardware timing. If a read or write executes late, it returns a warning or error.

In the research space, A.M.S. Software GmbH is already taking advantage of the flexibility of CompactRIO with NI-DAQmx.

“We are excited about the new CompactRIO Controller because of the flexibility it offers us,” said Klaudius Pinkawa, CEO of A.M.S. Software GmbH. “We needed to set up several experiments in a lab and then perform them on an aircraft in zero gravity. CompactRIO with NI-DAQmx allowed us to perform any experiment using the same hardware in both environments, which saved development time and reduced risks to the experiments.”


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