Drives and Controls Magazine
Revamped CompactRIO controllers are ‘four times faster’
Published:  07 August, 2013

National Instruments has announced a new CompactRIO controller that is four times faster than the previous generation. The cRIO-9068 has been redesigned completely, but is still compatible with the CompactRIO system's reconfigurable I/O and with NI’s LabView software.

“Because so many customers have invested in CompactRIO, we took this redesign extremely seriously,” says David Fuller, NI’s vice-president of applications and embedded software. “Our r&d teams re-examined every part of the controller’s design and made sweeping improvements, while maintaining complete backward code compatibility.”

The new controller is based on a Xilinx Zynq-7020 programmable system-on-a-chip (SoC), which combines a dual-core 667MHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor and a Xilinx 7 Series FPGA (field-programmable gate array).

The controller is designed to cope with demanding embedded control and monitoring tasks, while reducing development time and costs. A new real-time, Linux-based operating system (OS) is said to offer more flexibility for both LabView Real-Time and C/C++ application developers.

The new controller, which is programmed using LabView software, offers a single, graphical development environment that takes advantage of the improved hardware. The 2013 version of LabView supports the Linux real-time OS, giving developers access to community-sourced libraries and applications to augment their control and monitoring systems. The software also offers expanded connectivity options, including improved Web service creation and secure browser-based file management.

“Although this controller looks similar to other CompactRIO devices, the technology under the hood is revolutionary,” says Wolfram Koerver, executive director of NI’s German-based integration partner, SEA Datentechnik. “With this platform we can provide software technologies to our customers which were almost impossible before or would have required a long development time and high investment.”

NI has completely redesigned its CompactRIO controller

♦  SEA has announced a series of mobile communication modules developed specifically for the new CompactRIO platform. The modules allow users to access applications remotely, and allow data exchanges and updates of LabView applications to be done remotely at high speed. The SEA 9751 module supports data transfers at up to 14Mbit/s using 3G technology, while the SEA 9754 version can transfer data at up to 100 Mbit/s, using 4G communications.

Both modules incorporate GPS receivers to provide geotagging information, as well as time stamp data accurate to microseconds, making them suitable for mobile applications or for applications with precision timing requirements.

Compared to earlier communication modules, the new devices are said to consume up to 25% less energy, because they integrate with the Linux-based OS and do not need their own processors. This also simplifies configuration of the communication parameters and module setups.

The SEA modules not only achieve wireless connection speeds up to 15 times faster than previous models, but also support data rates nearly five times higher via the CompactRIO USB uplink port.