Data-acq and instrumentation company National Instruments (NI---Austin, Texas) is announcing the latest upgrade to its venerable LabVIEW automated instrumentation software. NI's latest LabVIEW v7.1 is billed as a "significant upgrade" to the company's family of LabVIEW graphical development products.
Leveraging the PC and its related technologies, NI's vision of virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs through easy-to-integrate software, such as LabVIEW's graphical development environment. The approach also relies on modular hardware, such as PXI modules for data acquisition, instrument control, and machine vision.
LabVIEW 7.1 extends the company's Express technology to automated instrumentation and realtime applications with five new Express VIs (virtual instruments) for NI modular instruments. It also extends Express with NI-DAQmx for debugging and low-level execution timing for the LabVIEW 7.1 Real-Time Module.
"Last year," recalls Ray Almgren, NI's VP of product marketing, "LabVIEW 7 Express introduced a revolutionary way to create test, measurement, and control applications with configuration-based development and code-generation tools.
"These included Express VIs and measurement assistants. By extending Express technology to the broad spectrum of NI automated instrumentation, LabVIEW 7.1 can simplify development for LabVIEW users, regardless of their hardware platforms."
With LabVIEW 7.1, NI targets automated instrumentation for hardware platforms ranging from high-performance modular instruments to realtime data-acq systems, and even handheld devices.
Realtime For The First Time
With five new Express VIs for NI digitizers, signal generators, and high-speed digital I/O, you can now configure measurements and acquire data with just a few mouse clicks on a PC. The Express VIs feature tight integration with the NI Analog Waveform Editor and Digital Waveform Editor software.
You can also acquire high-speed analog and digital signals and directly interface with more than 450 analysis, signal-processing, and mathematical functions for creating customer-defined virtual instruments.
The re-designed NI-DAQmx measurement services software in LabVIEW 7.1, available in realtime applications for the first time, increases performance of single-loop PID (proportional/integral/derivative) applications by 30 percent, and simplifies hardware-timed loop implementation.
In addition, the new LabVIEW 7.1 PDA Module delivers more data acquisition functions, including faster multi-channel acquisition, and analog and digital triggering. You can use this module to create customized handheld DMM (digital multi-meter) applications, and communicate with Bluetooth-enabled devices.
LabVIEW 7.1 also introduces advanced execution timing and graphical debugging for low-level control and visibility of realtime system execution. With its new timed loop, an enhanced While loop in LabVIEW, you can specify precise timing of code segments, coordinate multiple time-critical activities, and define priority-based loops for creating multi-rate applications.
To further optimize performance, you can use the new LabVIEW Execution Trace Toolkit with aforementioned the LabVIEW Real-Time Module to quickly identify sources of jitter, such as memory allocation and race conditions.
Run On Certified Desktops
In addition to speeding development of realtime applications on existing platforms, this release extends LabVIEW Real-Time to run on certified desktop PCs. With that, you can create realtime systems by integrating the large installed base of PCI I/O hardware with desktop PCs.
A new LabVIEW 7.1 FPGA Module, which also releases with LabVIEW 7.1, is claimed to improve efficiency and functionality of embedded FPGA applications. The latest version features single-cycle While loops that execute multiple functions within a single 25-ns tick of a 40-MHz global clock.
Efficient FPGA Code
With this new feature, you can use LabVIEW to develop FPGA code that executes as efficiently as hand-coded VHDL. You also can re-use existing VHDL code in LabVIEW FPGA applications with a new HDL interface node.
In addition, you now have three new FPGA targets, including the NI Compact Vision System for creating high-performance custom machine-vision applications.
LabVIEW is available on Windows, Macintosh, Sun Solaris, and Linux operating systems.
What is the pricing information on these products? Well, LabVIEW 7.1 is priced from $995. The LabVIEW 7.1 Real-Time Module costs $1,995. The FPGA Module is priced just under $2000.
The PDA module costs just under $1000. The new LabVIEW 7.1 Datalogging and Supervisory Control Module is priced just under $2000. Finally, the new LabVIEW Execution Trace Toolkit costs just under $1000.
For more details, contact National Instruments Corp., 11500 No. Mopac Expwy., Austin, Texas 78759-3504. Phone: (512) 683-0100. Fax: (512) 683-8411.
Or, visit NI's Web site for more details.