Is there a way to simplify the construction of rugged, embedded industrial systems? National Instruments hopes to answer that question with its CompactRIO architecture. The core of this module-based system is a backplane implemented via FPGA. It allows the customization of standard plug-in modules, and it supports custom RIO modules. Triggering and signal manipulation are also easier using the FPGA.
National Instruments supplies a range of process control and monitoring modules in addition to processor modules. The latter include the 200-MHz Pentium-based cRIO-9002 and cRIO-9004.
The CompactRIO system is available with 1M- and 3M-cell FPGAs. Systems can have four or eight slots. The rugged case weighs 3.47 pounds and measures 7.07 by 3.47 by 3.47 in. It's designed to handle a 50-g shock, and it operates from 40°C to 70°C.
The system is programmed using the company's LabView, which supports the FPGA as well as standard modules. It also works with the new SoftMotion Development Module, which handles servo update rates to 200 kHz.
The CompactRIO embedded system is priced from $2495. CompactRIO R Series expansion systems designed for connection to a PXI or PCI R series device start at $1645.