Electronic Design

Multicore LabView

As usual, the centerpiece of NIWeek was LabVIEW, this time because of its upgrade to LabView 8.5, which includes a host of new features including more extensive multicore SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, and new interface features like the State Chart module In the past, LabVIEW supported multiple core targets. The new multicore support is much more extensive, with, for example, support for real-time extensions. The new NI Real-Time Execution Trace Toolkit 2.0 addresses threads and cores displaying timing relationships in real time. Developers can fine-tune an application by assigning code to specific processors, allowing time-critical sections of code to be isolated on a dedicated core. Enhancements to the debugging support are also targeted at multicore support. Along these lines, a low-level memory management tool can help with performance optimization. It is applicable to single core targets as well. LabVIEW 8.5’s FPGA IP support has been expanded to include additional multichannel PID, notch filter and signal generators. Other LabVIEW 8.5 features include support for Freescale ColdFire processors. This includes an evaluation bundle of the QNX Neutrino RTOS. The Mathscript .m file support has been enhanced and the BLAS linear algebra libraries have received additional optimizations. The latter allows access to elements inside complex data structures. On the algorithm side, National Instruments has improved edge detection for image processing. Similarly, optimizations have been applied to for various demodulator and channel coding schemes. Operationally, it is now possible to conditionally exit FOR loops. The WHILE loop already had this support so it really moving LabView on par with this and other programming environments. Graphical merging and file management tools now provide improved team-based development support. The former addresses merging of VI (virtual instrument) code while the latter synchronizes the contents of the VI code and the files in a VI directory. Developers can now choose between the conventional virtual directory or an auto-populating directory. This tends to simplify operation with internal and external file management tools. Mechatronics And LabVIEW LabVIEW has brought sophisticated control to process control. Now it can combine more advanced programmable automation controllers (PACs) with existing programmable logic controllers (PLCs)-based systems. This includes support for a wider mix of I/O and measurement modules as well as display enhancements, key in a graphical programming environment. There is also a new library of OPC drivers. Simulation is another area where LabView has been extended in this version with more to come. There are enhancements for Model Predictive Control (MPC) and analytical PID controller design but even more impressive is the work being done by National Instruments and SolidWorks. The latter provides high end CAD services. Combine the two and it is possible to design a system, simulate it and utilize real control applications written in LabView. This current work is based on LabView 8.5 but the integration is available online as part of an early adopter program. There is a definite trend in this area and significant room for improvement but the current work is extremely impressive. Future LabView Views The State Chart is yet another view into the way LabView works. Like many of the past additions like object oriented support, it mimics technology existing in other environments like UML (unified modeling language) but with a LabVIEW flavor. State charts are a graphical way to present state changes in an application and they lend themselves to the data flow architecture of LabVIEW. The LabVIEW implementation support hierarchies and concurrency. Drill down and there is still the virtual instrument graphical code allowing developers to easily link and transition between state views and more conventional LabVIEW graphical code. It was once thought that different views of an application like State Charts would be minimized in the future but that does not seem to be the case especially with more multicore/multithreading support. Overall, there are more new features in LabVIEW than will be utilized by most developers. Still, given the broad application of LabVIEW there is likely something new for everyone. Pricing for LabView starts at $1199. Related Links National Instruments QNX SolidWorks

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