Delivering Distributed Intelligence For Design, Control, And Test

National Instruments has launched LabVIEW 8, a major upgrade to the LabVIEW graphical development platform that will find homes in design, control, and test. The upgrade introduces distributed intelligence—a suite of new capabilities for engineers and scientists to easily design, distribute, and synchronise intelligent devices and systems. LabVIEW 8 also features a new project-based environment for developing and managing large-scale applications, as well as the latest in Express technology for simplified instrument control.

This release also includes significant updates to the Lab-VIEW Real-Time Module, LabVIEW FPGA Module, Lab-VIEW PDA Module, and LabVIEW Data Logging and Supervisory Control Module.

The upgrade extends graphical programming further into test and control systems, from rack-and-stack test solutions to automation plant networks, with new flexible and easy-to-use distributed communication and control tools. It presents a simplified, scalable interface for communicating with and synchronising between remote intelligent devices and systems, such as real-time processors and FPGAs. Embedded designers, test engineers, and control system engineers now can use the same graphical platform for simple data transfer, deterministic real-time communication, and network synchronisation with integrated alarms, events, and data logging.

A key feature in LabVIEW 8, the LabVIEW Project, is a new project-based environment for managing large applications and team development. The LabVIEW Project also includes tools for multiple target management; integrated code differencing and source code control; multi-build management; and the ability to seamlessly deploy applications to desktop, mobile, industrial, and embedded targets. With these features, engineers and scientists can more easily integrate LabVIEW into advanced software engineering processes required for managing large teams of programmers, or for compliance with industry-and government-defined development process certification standards.

In addition, LabVIEW 8 continues to build on Express technology with new tools for simplifying instrument control and data acquisition. With the new LabVIEW Instrument Driver Finder, engineers and scientists can now automatically recognise connected instruments and search, download, and install the appropriate driver from the more than 4000 available on the NI Instrument Driver Network (

National Instruments also unveiled the latest version of NIDAQmx, its data-acquisition (DAQ) driver software and the core of its measurement services software shipped with each piece of NI multifunction DAQ hardware.

With NI-DAQmx 8 driver software, engineers using all NIDAQmx hardware—including new PCI Express and USB DAQ devices—can take advantage of the upgrades in the LabVIEW 8 graphical platform for design, control, and test. For example, NI LabVIEW 8 offers improvements to existing LabVIEW Express technology to benefit data acquisition, including upgrades to Instrument I/O Assistant and DAQ Assistant. NIDAQmx 8 also provides the data-acquisition I/O server for a new shared variable in LabVIEW 8.

Engineers can use this feature to share data between two nodes, including real-time and supervisory nodes, within a distributed control and monitoring system. The LabVIEW Project Explorer helps engineers manage and target all of the networked real-time and I/O nodes used in the system. Then they can download, execute, and debug LabVIEW measurement applications.

In addition to the increased integration with LabVIEW 8, NI-DAQmx 8 features the new USB Autolauncher, an automatic dialogue that makes setting up applications with USB connectivity even easier. NI DAQmx users can choose from a list of common tasks for USB applications, including running test panels and starting a data-logging task.

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