NI LabVIEW 8.5 Improves Test Throughput with Multicore and FPGA Technologies

7th August 2007
News Release from: National Instruments
Written by : ES Admin
National Instruments today announced 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 and FPGA development for high-performance test applications with its intuitive parallel dataflow language. As manufacturers shift to multicore processors to provide performance gains, LabVIEW 8.5 running on these new processors can deliver more powerful systems with increased test throughput. The latest version of LabVIEW offers performance gains with automatic thread scaling based on the total available number of processing cores, improved thread-safe drivers and deterministic real-time multithreading for high-performance test applications such as those in wireless, high-speed digital and mixed-signal test.
“Engineers and scientists depend on continually improving PC processors, operating systems and bus technologies to drive increased performance in their test systems,” said Dr. James Truchard, National Instruments President, CEO and co-founder. “With the shift toward multicore processors on the PC, LabVIEW programmers benefit from a simplified graphical approach to multithreading, making it possible for engineers and scientists to maximise the performance of multicore technology with little to no change to their applications.”

Using LabVIEW 8.5 to program multicore systems, test engineers can now design new production testers with increased test throughput by performing parallel operations such as data acquisition, generation and analysis on multiple processor cores. With the inherent parallelism of the LabVIEW dataflow language and built-in multithreading, engineers can build advanced systems that balance the workload among available processing cores. Because of the simplified graphical approach to multithreading in LabVIEW, engineers already using LabVIEW can also take advantage of multicore technology to achieve performance gains for their existing test systems with little to no change to their applications. Additionally, test engineers can further optimise their test systems by distributing processing to an FPGA target using the LabVIEW FPGA Module.

LabVIEW 8.5 running on multicore processors also can solve high-speed data streaming application challenges such as communications IC verification, high-definition video display testing and RF spectral monitoring by distributing the measurement I/O and the file I/O to separate processing cores. Using LabVIEW 8.5 and high-speed bus technology such as PCI Express, engineers can stream data continuously at rates up to 2.5 GB/s to system memory.

The LabVIEW 8.5 platform introduces a new version of the NI Modulation Toolkit for LabVIEW, which provides engineers a flexible software-defined approach to communications systems design and test. By combining the NI Modulation Toolkit 4.0 with PXI Express modular instrumentation, engineers can develop applications to test wireless devices using standard protocols such as GPS and DAB as well as perform EMC testing. Engineers can also use the Modulation Toolkit to generate parity check matrices as well as encode and decode information bits with low density parity-check (LDPC) coding techniques used in WiMAX, DVB-S2 and 802.11n protocols.

Additionally, engineers can combine LabVIEW 8.5 with FPGA-based systems to perform processor-intensive communications tests. Because FPGAs are inherently parallel and capable of delivering deterministic execution, FPGA-based systems are ideal for in-line and distributed processing. Using the LabVIEW FPGA Module, engineers can program an FPGA-enabled processor board from National Instruments to perform thousands of computations in parallel to modulate the RF system needed to test the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) protocol.

For deploying deterministic, high-reliability systems, LabVIEW 8.5 extends the performance of multicore applications to real-time embedded systems by delivering symmetric multiprocessing with LabVIEW Real-Time. With the latest version of LabVIEW, engineers 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 optimisation requirements of real-time multicore development, the new NI Real-Time Execution Trace Toolkit 2.0 visually displays timing relationships between sections of code and the individual threads and processing cores where the code is executing.

Design and Implement Digital Communications Protocols with the New Statechart Module
Statecharts are commonly used to design state machines that model the behaviour of real-time and embedded systems to depict event occurrences and responses for designing digital communication protocols, machine controllers and fault-handling applications. Using the new LabVIEW Statechart Module, engineers can design and implement communications protocols such as SPI or I2C to quickly prototype new products or communicate with units under test during the testing process. With high-level design tools such as the statechart module, engineers can bridge the gap between design and test processes to more quickly iterate on product designs and shorten time to market.

Additional LabVIEW 8.5 features for test applications include:
· Project file management tools and graphical code merging for team-based development
· Low-level memory management for performance optimisation
· Analysis and signal processing improvements including BLAS linear algebra libraries
· Improved edge detection for image processing and optimised algorithms for various demodulators and channel coding schemes
· Improved support of .m file scripts

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