Do More With LabVIEW 2009: Parallel Programming, Wireless Technologies, and Real-Time Math
Now, more than ever, the tools you use must be flexible and evolve quickly to changing environments.
NI LabVIEW 2009 is a platform-wide software update with new features for taking advantage of parallel multicore and field-programmable gate array (FPGA)-based architectures as well as new embedded capabilities for programming wireless sensors and mathematical algorithms in real-time hardware. The latest version of LabVIEW 2009 adds programming and productivity features to drive more efficiency and performance into your applications, helping you do more with evolving PC and embedded technology platforms.
With the worldwide economic situation, engineers and scientists are now under greater pressure to complete more projects with fewer resources. However, the recent financial meltdown and credit crisis highlight more clearly the importance that science and technology can play in initiating real growth and recovery. In fact, through the downturn and ensuing efforts to stimulate the economy, new growth opportunities are emerging in medical research and device development, infrastructure upgrades, and environmental monitoring. National Instruments has prioritized key features for LabVIEW 2009 to help you take advantage of these new areas and drive faster, more efficient innovation within the engineering community.
With the rise of multicore PCs in the mainstream market, the graphical nature of the LabVIEW software environment has proven to be powerful and intuitive for representing parallel programming solutions. LabVIEW 2009 continues to simplify parallel programming of hardware platforms such as multicore PCs and FPGAs with the same parallel design approaches.
- Multicore Programming – LabVIEW 2009 offers a number of general language improvements for building applications, such as data references, native recursion, and improved object-oriented programming structures. In addition, the new parallel for loop can automatically split iterations of a for loop across multiple cores. Sometimes called “loop unrolling,” LabVIEW takes care of splitting and reinterpreting data inputs and outputs such that the structure is the same as a normal for loop in LabVIEW except for a new “number of workers” input. For example, a 100-iteration algorithm can be split across two workers such that 50 iterations run on one core and 50 run on the other in a dual-core machine. Learn more about the Parallel For Loop in LabVIEW 2009.
- FPGA Programming – FPGAs represent the most parallel hardware architecture available. The LabVIEW 2009 FPGA Module takes advantage of the parallel nature of LabVIEW, uses code generation techniques, and directly targets Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs so that anyone who is familiar with LabVIEW can program an FPGA. LabVIEW 2009 introduces early compiler feedback on FPGA resource utilization and timing constraints, direct critical path debugging for timing violations, and new intellectual property (IP) for high-throughput math and signal processing. With these new development and debugging tools, LabVIEW 2009 adds the functionality that experienced FPGA expect, without sacrificing the LabVIEW graphical programming experience, so you can easily tune and iterate on your design. Learn more about new features in the LabVIEW 2009 modules.
Figure 1. New NI Real-Time Hypervisor software uses virtualization to run both LabVIEW Real-Time and Windows XP OSs on a single multicore controller.
- Virtualization – Today, many engineers are using multiple OSs in their applications to take advantage of real-time processing, user interface graphics, a variety of programs and services, and more. Traditionally, these multi-OS applications required the use of multiple computers, but virtualization technology now helps you consolidate your systems by running two or more OSs on one computer. The NI Real-Time Hypervisor software package, releasing with LabVIEW 2009, uses virtualization to run both LabVIEW Real-Time and Windows XP OSs side by side on a single PXI or industrial controller with two or more cores (while maintaining deterministic real-time performance). By purchasing a system with the Real-Time Hypervisor preinstalled, you can reduce hardware costs, lower your overall system footprint, and take advantage of multicore processors in ways not previously possible. Learn more about the NI Real-Time Hypervisor.
Wireless data acquisition (DAQ) devices from National Instruments provide more flexibility and lower costs than traditional wired systems. Without being locked into a fixed network or system setup and without having to run cables within a plant, you have more time to measure instead of installing and maintaining equipment. With LabVIEW 2009, National Instruments continues to incorporate wireless technologies into the mainstream.
Figure 2. Use LabVIEW and the NI WSN platform to perform distributed wireless monitoring with low-power measurement nodes.
- Wireless Sensor Network Platform – NI is announcing a wireless sensor network (WSN) platform, a complete remote monitoring solution that consists of LabVIEW and new reliable, low-power wireless measurement nodes. You can apply these nodes, programmed with LabVIEW, to new opportunities in remote monitoring, environmental monitoring, and resource monitoring applications. While the measurement nodes are optimized for low-power, multiyear deployment with limited computing resources, LabVIEW helps you customize the behavior of each node using the LabVIEW WSN Module Pioneer. Now, you can extend node battery life, perform custom analysis, and reduce response time with embedded decision making using intuitive graphical programming. Traditionally, achieving these benefits has required expertise in embedded OSs and low-level event-based programming. Learn more about the NI WSN platform.
- RF Wireless Test – Wireless communication and control is becoming a standard feature in many consumer electronics products, requiring manufacturers to add wireless testing to their functional test requirements. With instrumentation hardware that spans from baseband to 26 GHz for acquisition and generation, including RF switches and oscillators, NI offers a unique, software-defined approach for testing wireless devices that you can easily incorporate into traditional, functional test platforms. LabVIEW 2009 expands compatibility with the growing number of wireless standards with the introduction of new standard-specific toolkits for testing GPS, WLAN, WiMAX, and general multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) systems.
Embedded system design involves the combination of real-world I/O and signal processing or control algorithms running on an embedded processor packaged in a rugged, small, and convenient form factor. Traditionally, the engineers and scientists working on device algorithms were experts in a particular signal processing or control domain, while the engineers responsible for device implementation focused more on packaging, cost, and physical resources. In many cases, the algorithms developed by the domain experts using a design tool had to be reimplemented in C for them to run in hardware.
Figure 3. The process for deploying a script developed in a traditional mathematics tool to a multicore real-time hardware target can involve several steps.
LabVIEW shortens the steps between algorithm design and prototyping with real-time hardware. The same user can develop signal processing or control hardware with LabVIEW. And as a LabVIEW user, you can easily target algorithms to real-time I/O to quickly prototype your systems with real-world data. With the LabVIEW 2009 MathScript RT Module, NI is expanding the options for real-time math by adding real-time support to LabVIEW MathScript, helping domain experts reuse their existing mathematical scripts developed as .m files by imparting them directly into LabVIEW for running on both the desktop and in real time. With LabVIEW 2009, domain experts in many areas can easily host their algorithms – developed in different languages – directly within real-time prototypes. Learn more about developing real-time math algorithms with NI LabVIEW.
Do More With LabVIEW 2009
The economic recession requires everyone to rethink priorities and move quickly toward new opportunities. Engineers and scientists are key players in the recovery. With that in mind, National Instruments is adopting an annual release strategy with LabVIEW to add new features more quickly to evolve the platform and improve the upgrade process for users. By releasing a new version of LabVIEW each year, NI is solidifying the scope, stability, and schedule of each new release. In addition to riding the cutting edge of parallel programming, wireless technologies, and real-time math, LabVIEW 2009 includes a heavy dose of new features and improvements designed specifically for LabVIEW users.
Jeffrey Phillips is a product manager for LabVIEW at National Instruments. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee.
Rick Kuhlman is a product manager for LabVIEW FPGA at National Instruments. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, as well as an MBA, from the University of Tennessee.
Top Five New LabVIEW Enhancements
LabVIEW 2009 includes many new features to increase your productivity:
1. VI snippet tool: Create .png images of block diagrams that you can drag and drop into LabVIEW 2009 to automatically create LabVIEW code
2. Partial Block Diagram Cleanup tool: Clean up only selected areas or exclude structures from the Block Diagram Cleanup tool with this enhanced feature
3. Enhanced Icon Editor: Produce layered VI icons with new tools for incorporating text, templates, and glyphs
4. Probe Watch Window: Probe LabVIEW wires from any open VI in one global window
5. VI recursion: Drop VIs onto their own block diagram to implement recursive VIs
This article first appeared in the Q3 2009 issue of Instrumentation Newsletter.
Reader Comments | Submit a comment »
Everybody that owns Developer Suite and MathScript and
has a current SSP has had their MathScript taken away from
them as part of LavVIEW 2009 upgrade. They will need to
repurchase MathScript again. Shame on you NI. This is
appalling and horrific.
- Oct 2, 2009
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