Drives and Controls Magazine
Controllers aimed at IoT will simplify system designs
Published:  04 December, 2015

National Instruments (NI) has announced a family of industrial controllers designed to address the requirements of advanced Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The company says that the controllers will simplify systems, cut costs, and shrink footprints by integrating control functions, processing and various types of I/O – including vision and motion – into a single high-performance controller.

The rugged controllers have dual-core Intel i7 processors, built-in I/O, and five Gigabit Ethernet ports (four of which support power-over-Ethernet), avoiding the need to use separate subsystems in complex machines.

“Industrial systems and machines have become more complex, often incorporating several independent subsystems for specialised tasks such as image processing, multi-axis motion control and operator interfaces,” explains Jamie Smith, NI’s director of embedded systems. “With products such as the IC-3173 industrial controller, system designers can improve performance and simplify system complexity by moving to a centralised approach where one controller is used for many or all of these tasks.”

To controllers’ fifth-generation processors work together with user-programmable Xilinx Kintex-7 160T FPGAs to perform advanced signal and image processing, high-speed closed-loop control, and to deliver customisable digital I/O.

NI's IC-3173 avoids the need for subsystems by processing functions such as vision on board

As well as the Ethernet ports, there are two USB 3.0 ports that allow images from several USB3 Vision and GigE Vision cameras to be processed simultaneously. The controllers also provide support for EtherCat Master, Ethernet/IP, RS-232/485, Modbus serial and Modbus/TCP communications, linking them to other devices such as PLCs and operator interfaces.

NI’s LabView software can be used to customise control algorithms, process images, and perform advanced analytics.