National Instruments Enhances Embedded System Design

National Instruments Enhances Embedded System Design by Extending Platforms to Digital Embedded Sensors

New LabVIEW FPGA IP Makes It Easy to Add I2C, SPI and MEMS Sensors to NI Platforms Including CompactRIO

July 29, 2009 – National Instruments has announced the availability of free communications intellectual property (IP) blocks for the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module that make it possible to add serial peripheral interface (SPI) and inter-integrated circuit (I2C) devices to embedded systems developed on NI reconfigurable I/O (RIO) hardware platforms. National Instruments has also been working with component suppliers such as Analog Devices to develop drivers for common components such as microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors so that engineers and scientists can quickly integrate accelerometers, gyroscopes, temperature and other sensors into their embedded systems.

“With the new embedded sensor drivers for Analog Devices MEMS sensors, we are giving LabVIEW users an easy way to integrate ADI’s state-of-the-art sensors into their embedded devices,” said Bob Scannell, Business Development Manager at Analog Devices.

Digital embedded sensors, which are used in applications ranging from automobiles to medical devices and consumer electronics, provide measurement feedback that is important to overall system performance. Examples include sensors for monitoring environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity and pressure; ultrasonic detectors for medical devices or sensors such as light detection and ranging (LIDAR); and inertial measurement unit (IMU) devices for mobile robotics. Using new LabVIEW FPGA IP, engineers and scientists can easily incorporate devices based on SPI and I2C, two of the most widely used types of embedded digital communication protocols, with NI RIO hardware including the CompactRIO programmable automation controller (PAC), NI Single-Board RIO embedded devices and R Series multifunction RIO devices.

NI RIO hardware platforms, which share an architecture composed of a real-time processor, a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and I/O modules, are ideal for applications that need the reliability of validated, off-the-shelf hardware and the flexibility of custom hardware and high-performance I/O capabilities. Engineers and scientists with limited or no hardware design experience can easily program the FPGA on NI RIO platforms using the LabVIEW FPGA Module, which provides a graphical programming tool that abstracts the VHDL code used to configure the FPGA. LabVIEW also makes it easy to build and modify custom communication IP and inline digital processing in addition to integrating a wide array of analogue and digital signals and sensors for future devices.

Readers can visit to download the free LabVIEW FPGA IP for SPI and I2C sensors as well as the sensor drivers for Analog Devices MEMS sensors. Readers can also visit NI Developer Zone on to download a resource kit with more information on how to add digital embedded sensors to NI RIO-based systems.

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.

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