National Instruments has beefed up its design and testing tools, making it simpler for engineers to create and test prototypes. Its upgrade of the LabVIEW graphical system design software will help engineers move to multicore architectures and utilize wireless technologies.
LabVIEW 8.6 has been upgraded to increase the throughput of test and control systems with multicore processors. The latest version of the software also helps engineers develop FPGA-based controls in less time and more easily create distributed measurement systems to acquire data remotely.
“To meet the performance and efficiency demands of testing wireless devices and designing hybrid vehicles, users must have the ability to quickly incorporate the latest technologies such as multicore processors, FPGAs, and wireless communication,” James Truchard, CEO of NI, said at its NIWeek gathering in August.
Though multicore devices are still used only rarely in automotive applications, most observers feel that dual-core CPUs will see steady acceptance. The world’s largest semiconductor supplier reasserted its strategy during NIWeek.
“Going forward, multicore is not an option, it’s the future,” said Jonathan Luse, Marketing Director at Intel’s Embedded Group. However, he also noted that “creating software for multicores is a heck of a lot more difficult” than programming conventional CPUs.
Graphical programming techniques help developers segment tasks to each core, noted Tim Dehne, Senior R&D Vice President at NI. With the LabVIEW 8.6 Control Design and Simulation Module, system engineers can execute simulation models in parallel up to five times faster, he added.
The new tools also help automakers implement FPGAs, which are expected to grow at 20% per year from a tiny base, according to iSuppli. LabVIEW 8.6 provides a new Component-Level Intellectual Property (CLIP) Node to easily import existing VHDL data into the LabVIEW FPGA Module. LabVIEW 8.6 also offers fixed-point IP including a fast Fourier transform (FFT) core that helps engineers offload spectral analysis functions.
The enhancements for wireless will help engineers test prototypes and design systems such as tire pressure monitors and remote keyless entry. Wi-Fi tools will also facilitate the design of communication systems for downloading music, video, and other software to the vehicle.
Test engineers can develop applications to test wireless devices up to four times faster with the latest version of the NI Modulation Toolkit for LabVIEW. On the hardware side, the company unveiled 10 new Wi-Fi and ethernet data acquisition boards that let developers add wireless sensor capabilities to measurement applications without learning new software.