NI execs tout move to programmable world

Austin, TX. How many people here wear a watch? That was the question Dr. James Truchard, CEO and cofounder of National Instruments, put to attendees of NIWeek, convened here today. Many did wear a watch, but many also came equipped with a “virtual watch,” a software application that rendered the time on a platform such as an iOS or Android device.

“Platform” was a term heard often today at NIWeek, as Eric Starkloff, senior vice president of marketing at NI, commented on the advent of the “programmable world,” in his own address following Truchard's opening remarks. Starkloff's address elaborated on concepts he touched on in an exclusive interview with EE-Evaluation Engineering published in the August print issue.

The executives' comments complemented significant product introductions from NI presented on day 1 of NIWeek. Not surprisingly, the company continued its recent tradition of debuting an annual release of NI LabVIEW. LabVIEW 2013 lets users take advantage of advanced technologies without rewriting their applications or learning new tools. It offers overhauled sample projects and an expanded training library that serve as a strong foundation for any undertaking. The new release includes support for the latest evolution of the NI CompactRIO platform, the NI cRIO-9068 software-designed controller (which runs the NI Linux Real-Time operating system). In addition, new tools facilitate the management, documentation, and debugging of increasingly complex systems, and the new release facilitates streamlined deployment of large systems through improved web services and the NI LabVIEW Application Builder.

The cRIO-9068 software-designed controller, which is completely redesigned but maintains full NI LabVIEW and I/O compatibility with the CompactRIO platform, integrates state-of-the-art technologies including the Xilinx Zynq-7020 All Programmable system on a chip (SoC), which combines a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and Xilinx 7 Series FPGA fabric.

In brief remarks after Truchard and Starkloff's comments, Bob Leigh, president and CEO of LocalGrid Technologies, said, “Within 24 hours of receiving a cRIO-9068 controller, we ran our existing LabVIEW application software without any problems. We were impressed by the easy software transition between CompactRIO systems and by the incredible performance improvement of the new software-designed controller.”

Apart from specific product introductions, Truchard and Starkloff outlined broad industry trends driving NI's strategy. In a platform-based world, Truchard said, there are no boundaries between an instrument and the embedded system it emulates. He cited as an example the vector signal transceiver, or VST, introduced at last year's NIWeek. It's not only an instrument but a platform for implementing a software-defined radio (SDR).

Such innovations, Truchard said, lead to the 4th Industrial Revolution in which the world is populated with cyber-physical systems (CPS). NI, he said, aims to do for CPS what the programmable logic controller (PLC) did for discrete control systems.

Starkloff followed Truchard in elaborating on the programmable world, a term mentioned in a recent Wired Magazine article. Programmable cars, mobile phones, sprinkler systems, and thermostats will all contribute to a better world, he said, and a programmable world is a platform-centric world. “Custom hardware design is dead,” he said, concluding that the future belongs to platform-based design and the community that has arisen to extend and support it.

Sponsored Recommendations


To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Electronic Design, create an account today!