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LabVIEW 8.5 Multicore Processors from National Instruments

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National Instruments  released LabVIEW 8.5, the latest version of the graphical system design platform for test, control and embedded system development. Building on nearly 10 years of investment in multithreading technology, LabVIEW 8.5 simplifies multicore as well as FPGA-based application development with its intuitive parallel dataflow language. As processor manufacturers look to parallel multicore architectures for performance improvements, LabVIEW 8.5 running on these new processors can deliver faster test throughput, more efficient processor-intensive analysis and more reliable real-time systems on dedicated processor cores. LabVIEW 8.5 also extends the LabVIEW platform further into embedded and industrial applications with the new statechart design module for modeling and implementing system behavior as well as new I/O libraries and analysis functions for industrial monitoring and control.

Graphical Programming for Multicore and FPGA Architectures

With the adoption of next-generation processors, engineers and scientists must consider how software can deliver the potential performance gains of multicore and FPGA-based systems. With the parallel dataflow language of LabVIEW, users can easily map their applications to multicore and FPGA architectures for data streaming, control, analysis and signal processing. Building on the automatic multithreading capability of earlier versions, LabVIEW 8.5 scales user applications based on the total available number of cores and delivers enhanced thread-safe drivers and libraries to improve throughput for RF, high-speed digital I/O and mixed-signal test applications.

LabVIEW 8.5 also delivers symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) with the LabVIEW Real-Time environment where designers of embedded and industrial systems automatically can load balance tasks across multiple cores without sacrificing determinism. With the latest version of LabVIEW, users can manually assign portions of code to specific processor cores to fine-tune real-time systems or isolate time-critical sections of code on a dedicated core. To meet the more challenging debugging and code optimization requirements of real-time multicore development, engineers and scientists can use the new NI Real-Time Execution Trace Toolkit 2.0 to visually display timing relationships between sections of their code and the individual threads and processing cores where the code is executing.

The inherent parallelism of LabVIEW also makes it an ideal platform for developing FPGA applications. LabVIEW 8.5 continues to simplify the task of programming FPGAs with an enhanced FPGA Project Wizard that automates I/O configuration, IP development and overall setup for common I/O, counter/timer and encoder applications. Using the FPGA Project Wizard, engineers and scientists can automate the generation or more complex high-speed DMA data transfer code. Additionally, LabVIEW 8.5 offers multichannel filtering and PID control functions commonly needed in machine automation to significantly reduce FPGA resources for high-channel-count applications.

New Statechart Module for Advanced System Modeling and Implementation

Statecharts are commonly used to design state machines to model the behavior of real-time and embedded systems to depict event occurrences and responses for digital communication protocols, machine controllers and system-protection applications. LabVIEW 8.5 adds a new statechart module to help engineers and scientists design and simulate these event-based systems using familiar, high-level statechart notations based on the Unified Modeling Language (UML) standard.

As the LabVIEW Statechart Module is based on the LabVIEW graphical programming language, engineers and scientists have a single platform to design, prototype and deploy their systems quickly, combining familiar statechart notation with real-world I/O running on deterministic real-time or FPGA-based systems.

Improved Measurement and Control for Machine Builders

With LabVIEW, engineers and scientists can integrate existing PLC-based industrial systems with more advanced programmable automation controllers (PACs), adding high-speed I/O and complex control logic to their industrial systems. LabVIEW 8.5 adds a wide array of I/O, measurement and display enhancements for building PAC-based industrial systems including a new library of OPC drivers that expands industrial connectivity for LabVIEW users, nearly doubling the number of compatible programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and industrial devices.

LabVIEW 8.5 also adds vibration and order tracking measurements and machine vision algorithms for industrial machine monitoring systems. For high-channel-count systems, the new multivariable editor makes it easy for users to quickly and easily configure or edit hundreds of I/O tags using a simple spreadsheet interface. Additionally, the latest version of LabVIEW introduces new flexible pipe display tools to simplify the process for building more realistic industrial user interfaces and an interactive drag-and-drop approach to tie I/O tags directly to user interface displays running on Windows CE-based industrial touch panels and handheld PDAs.

Additional LabVIEW 8.5 features include:

· Support for Freescale ColdFire processors and an evaluation bundle with QNX operating system support
· Project file management tools and graphical code merging for team-based development
· Low-level memory management tools for performance optimization
· New optimized BLAS linear algebra libraries
· Improved edge detection for image processing and optimized algorithms for various demodulators and channel coding schemes
· Control design and simulation enhancements including Model Predictive Control (MPC) and analytical PID controller design
· Improved support of .m file scripts

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