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National Instruments has introduced its NI PXI-8110 embedded controller: a 3U quad-core embedded controller for PXI systems.

Featuring a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q9100, up to 4GB 800MHz DDR2 RAM and a high-performance 7,200rpm drive, it is claimed to be the industry’s fastest embedded controller in the 3U PXI class.

The PXI-8110 provides a performance improvement of up to 80 per cent over dual-core controllers with similar central processing unit (CPU) clock frequencies for applications that are optimised to use the controller’s four processing cores.

Robert Canik, vice-president of research and development at National Instruments, said: ‘Engineers and scientists depend on the performance and reliability of PXI to solve the world’s most challenging test, measurement and control applications.

‘The new PXI-8110 quad-core embedded controller delivers on our commitment to providing engineers and scientists with advanced embedded computing solutions using high-performance processors such as the Intel Core 2 Quad,’ he added.

Computer processor manufacturers are continuing to add more CPU cores to their processors as a way of enhancing computing power.

When using traditional text-based programming languages, engineers who want to harness this computing power for developing advanced test, measurement and control applications regularly face the challenges of using complex software primitives and programming models.

However, engineers and scientists can capitalise on multi-threaded application development by combining the multi-core support and parallelism of National Instruments’s Labview graphical system design software with the PXI-8110 controller’s advanced functionality.

As the controller features a platform on which an application can distribute processing loads across four CPU cores simultaneously, it can reduce test times for applications that require intensive signal and data processing’ such as radio-frequency (RF) protocol testing and hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulations.

These applications can also replicate specific tests or processes to run on separate CPU cores and effectively double system throughput.

As an example of its leading-edge performance, the PXI-8110 can process up to 215,000 1K fast Fourier transforms (FFTs) per second, which is approximately 80 per cent faster than the NI PXI-8108 dual-core embedded controller.

Previously, this type of performance could be achieved only by using a bulky workstation.

The PXI-8110 is claimed to offer this capability in a compact, 3U form factor that fits inside a PXI chassis.

Jonathan Luse, director of marketing for the embedded and communications group at Intel, said: ‘By integrating Intel Core 2 Quad processors in a compact 3U form factor, National Instruments is delivering the benefits of Intel architecture to scientists and engineers requesting more cores for creating powerful and efficient parallel test and control systems.

‘The PXI-8110 is also available in a version that supports the NI Labview Real-Time and LabWindows/CVI Real-Time modules to deliver a flexible and rugged platform for deterministic and real-time measurement and control,’ he added.

With dual-core, real-time systems, engineers are limited to a single CPU core to execute time-critical application segments because the other core is used for executing non-critical background services.

With the PXI-8110 quad-core embedded controller, engineers can allocate multiple CPU cores for running time-critical test sections, while delegating non-critical services to the remaining cores.

This capability is intended to help engineers create powerful real-time and deterministic systems.

National Instruments

National Instruments transforms the way engineers and scientists around the world design, prototype and deploy systems for test, control and embedded design applications. Using NI LabVIEW graphical programming software and modular hardware, customers at more than 30,000 companies annually simplify development, increase productivity and dramatically reduce time to market. From testing next-generation gaming systems to creating breakthrough medical devices to controlling autonomous vehicles, NI customers continuously develop innovative technologies that impact millions of people’s lives.

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