National Instruments Introduces PCI Express-Based Multifunction I/O for LabVIEW FPGA

3 min read

Combination of FPGA-Based R Series Boards and PCs Delivers Cost-Efficient, Custom Measurement Hardware for Engineers, Scientists and OEMs

July 22, 2009 – National Instruments has announced four new R Series multifunction RIO boards for PCI Express that give engineers and scientists the benefits of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology in a widely adopted form factor. The boards deliver exceptional performance and value by combining a Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA, eight analogue inputs, eight analogue outputs and 96 digital I/O lines on a single board. Using the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module, engineers and scientists can program the onboard FPGA to create custom measurement hardware for custom data acquisition, high-speed control, digital communications protocols, sensor simulation, hardware-in-the-loop and signal processing applications.

Engineers and scientists can achieve 16-bit analogue input sampling rates up to 200 kS/s per channel with the NI PCIe-7841R and NI PCIe-7842R and sampling rates up to 750 kS/s per channel with the NI PCIe-7851R and NI PCIe-7852R. Because they are based on the PCI Express bus, the new R Series boards take advantage of dedicated bandwidth per device for reliable, high-speed data streaming. The boards also offer DMA channels for streaming data to and from the FPGA at more than 100 MB/s per device without significantly impacting processor resources.

“For more than 30 years, National Instruments has focused on making it easier for engineers and scientists to create custom, PC-based instrumentation, measurement and control systems,” said John Hanks, Vice President of Industrial and Embedded Product Lines at National Instruments. “With this vision in mind, the new NI R Series hardware based on LabVIEW FPGA gives developers an easy way to take advantage of the latest parallel, inline computing and data streaming capabilities for demanding measurement and control applications.”

In addition to the PC-based benefits, the new R Series boards give engineers and scientists the high-speed processing power provided by FPGAs. The boards are equipped with either a Virtex-5 LX30 or Virtex-5 LX50 FPGA, both of which offer increased performance with more efficient logic resource use and faster logic execution rates. R Series boards with Virtex-5 FPGAs also deliver twice the processing power of previous generation Virtex-II-equipped R Series boards at the same price.

Engineers and scientists with limited or no hardware design experience can easily program the FPGA on R Series boards using the LabVIEW FPGA Module, which abstracts the VHDL code used to configure the FPGA. LabVIEW also provides pre-built function blocks and other code optimisation techniques to expedite application development. For engineers and scientists that program in C, the recently released NI C Interface to LabVIEW FPGA makes it possible for them to integrate new or existing C applications with NI FPGA hardware programmed with the LabVIEW FPGA Module.

With integrated FPGA technology, R Series multifunction RIO boards can be configured to meet numerous application needs such as custom data acquisition, sensor simulation and high-performance control. With the wide availability and decreasing costs of standard desktop PCs, engineers, scientists and OEMs can combine a PC and a new PCI Express R Series board to create powerful, cost-optimised custom hardware systems including a high-speed control system with eight 750 kHz proportional integral derivative (PID) loops running in parallel, a custom digital protocol interface for communicating with or characterising a device under test, or a sensor simulation system for hardware-in-the-loop testing.

Readers can visit to learn more about NI R Series products.

About National Instruments
National Instruments ( is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 30,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 15 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 5,000 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 10 years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

Pricing and Contact Information
NI PCIe-7841R
Priced* from £2,099; €2,499
NI PCIe-7842R
Priced* from £2,699; €3,199
NI PCIe-7851R
Priced* from £2,549; €3,049
NI PCIe-7852R
Priced* from £3,149; €3,749
* All prices are subject to change without notice.

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