NI Week was last week, and for only the second time in 20 years, I didn’t go. NI, formerly National Instruments, has been focusing more on test and measurement lately. Not so much automation. My interest is mostly on its IoT efforts especially TSN. I figure I can get an interview with Todd Walter or whomever without the expense of a conference.
NI’s core competency lies as the provider of a software-defined platform that helps accelerate the development and performance of automated test and automated measurement systems. At NI Week it announced the release of LabVIEW 2018.
Applications that impact our daily lives are increasing in complexity due to the rapid innovation brought on by industry trends such as 5G, the Industrial Internet of Things, and autonomous vehicles. Consequently, the challenge of testing these devices to ensure reliability, quality and safety introduce new demands and test configurations, with decreased time and budget. Engineers need better tools to organize, develop and integrate systems so they can accomplish their goals within the acceptable boundaries.
Engineers can use LabVIEW 2018 to address a multitude of these challenges. They can integrate more third-party IP from tools like Python to make the most of the strengths of each package or existing IP from their stakeholders. Test engineers can use new functionality in LabVIEW 2018 to strengthen code reliability by automating the building and execution of software through integration with open interface tools like Jenkins for continuous delivery. Capabilities like this empower test engineers to focus on system integration and development where they can offer unique differentiation, rather than get bogged down in the semantics of how to use software tools or move IP from one to another. For test engineers using FPGAs for high-performance processing, new deep learning functions and improved floating-point operations can reduce time to market.
“NI’s continued commitment to its software-centric platform accelerates my productivity so I can focus on the challenges that yield the highest ROIs,” says Chris Cilino, LabVIEW framework architect at Cirrus Logic. “LabVIEW continues to minimize the effort of adding tests and code modifications to our validation framework, delivering a consistent process to maintain our software and incorporate the reuse of valuable IP without rewrites.”
To meet demands like testing higher complexity DUTs and shorter timeframes, engineers need tools tailored to their needs that they can efficiently use through their workflow, helping them to meet their exact application requirements. LabVIEW 2018 is the latest addition to NI’s software-centric platform that features products tailored to needs within distinct stages of their workflow – products that have been adopted in whole or in part by more than 300,000 active users.
With InstrumentStudio software providing an interactive multi-instrument experience, TestStand test management software handling overall execution and reporting and SystemLink software managing assets and software deployments, this workflow improves the productivity of test and validation labs across many industries. Each piece of the workflow is also interoperable with third-party software to maximize code and IP reuse and draws on the LabVIEW Tools Network ecosystem of add-ons and tools for more application-specific requirements.
Engineers can access both LabVIEW 2018 and LabVIEW NXG with a single purchase of LabVIEW.
I’m sitting in Ohio’s 90-degree heat instead of the 100-degrees of Austin, Texas this week. After attending 18 straight NI Week technology events, I’ve taken a break. I have two things on this post while I think through my next post on Internet of Things and communication technologies.
National Instruments has changed tremendously over the past five years or so. All the marketing and media relations people I’ve known are gone. For the first time last year, I walked into the press room and no one knew me. There were no interviews. No suggestions on finding great information. Even the keynotes no longer brought awe and spontaneous applause at the technology advances. The applause was more perfunctory.
NI is no longer family with a tremendous enthusiasm for technology advancements. It’s a big company.
I’m saving the $1,200 or so it would have cost me to go to Austin in August. I’ll be there in October for Dell World. I’ll visit the other Austin technology companies then. (And run along Town Lake–er, Lady Bird Lake, eat good barbecue, take in some music.)
OPC and the REST of it
I’ve been seeing news and receiving press releases from companies promoting MQTT and REST–perhaps instead of OPC UA. (More in my next post.)
So, I have been researching industrial communications–protocols, platforms, architectures, standards. OPC has been a workhorse for moving structured data from control to HMI and beyond. It is developing a publish/subscribe technology to complement its client/server technology to enhance cloud communication.
I’m seeing interest from suppliers from alternatives, or, if not alternatives, other technologies that could complement or supplant much of the work of OPC UA. MQTT, AMQP, REST, DDS. Companies are exploring them.
I wonder why? I’m interviewing many people on the subject. There is much to read.
What do you think? Send email or comment. Is there something about OPC UA that makes you consider other technologies? Why would you pick MQPP? REST is an API specification most used to get large amounts of information into Web pages. Could you use that in place of an MES? Or, to assist your MES?
There are lots of questions. I’m looking for answers. Thoughts?
NI Announces LabView2016
I am receiving news from NI Week. Here is the first announcement.
NI announced LabVIEW 2016 system design software, empowering engineers to simplify development and effectively integrate software from the ecosystem into their systems. The latest version of LabVIEW introduces new channel wires to simplify complex communication between parallel sections of code. Available on both desktop and real-time versions of LabVIEW, the channel wire method helps improve code readability and reduces development time.
“The new channel wires in LabVIEW 2016 enable us to develop applications even faster by making architectures that are more transferable across domains,” said Christopher Relf, chief engineer at VI Engineering. “With channel wires, we can set up sophisticated software architectural patterns that natively have multiple sources, without having to create and maintain considerable amounts of custom software in the background.”
Much of the success that LabVIEW users have had relies on the openness of both the product itself and the ecosystem that supports it. LabVIEW 2016 continues this trend with enhanced interoperability with Python and third-party devices. This openness, combined with several new enhancements, helps users continue to improve productivity by streamlining code development and deployment. With the latest version of LabVIEW, users can:
- Simplify development with new channel wires that reduce complex asynchronous communication to a single wire
- Take advantage of more RAM and memory with new 64-bit add-on support for the LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module, LabVIEW MathScript Real-Time Module, LabVIEW Unit Test Framework Toolkit, LabVIEW Desktop Execution Trace Toolkit and LabVIEW VI Analyzer Toolkit
- Streamline the automation of benchtop measurements with the Instrument Driver Network, which supports 500 new devices in addition to the existing 10,000 supported instruments
- Integrate Python IP using the new Python Integration Toolkit for LabVIEW, which is a simple API from Enthought, Inc. (available in the LabVIEW Tools Network) that can integrate Python scripts into LabVIEW applications
National Instruments (NI)announced a collaboration with CERN, an intergovernmental research organization building the world’s largest and most advanced scientific instruments. The objective is to push the standardization of all CERN control systems to Linux 64-bit OSs, with goals to boost system performance, design cost-effective distributed embedded control systems and enlarge opportunities for small and medium enterprises with expertise in NI and open-source technologies.
NI has been working with the European Organization for Nuclear Research, more commonly known as CERN, since the early 1990s on applications that help explain what the universe is made of and how it began. Notable collaborations include the Large Hadron Collider collimation system, where applications developed with LabVIEW system design software control stepping motors on approximately 120 NI PXI systems, and the MedAustron ion beam cancer therapy center, for which CERN received three awards at NIWeek 2013. These common developments have resulted in valuable training for engineers in the fast-growing embedded systems market, and have led to long-term maintainable systems in mission-critical applications.
A recent collaboration between CERN and NI concentrated on CERN’s infrastructure improvement plans. Prior to the public release of LabVIEW support for 64-bit Linux, the Engineering Department (EN) Industrial Controls and Engineering (ICE) Group at CERN, acted as a lead user to help NI define and refine the software features needed to ensure CERN’s success in continuing to use NI tools. By working with CERN early on to learn about its upgrade requirements, NI was able to prioritize key deliverables and gain valuable feedback from CERN to increase the quality of support for 64-bit Linux.
“The EN-ICE Group appreciates the engagement of NI to develop 64-bit software for CERN in a collaborative way,” said Adriaan Rijllart, section leader of the EN-ICE Group. “This very successful initiative is paving the way for exemplary partnerships between fundamental research organizations and industry.”
Shelley Gretlein, director of platform software at NI said “NI is pleased to have advanced lead users like CERN apply their extensive Linux experience in helping NI continue to release leading-edge products.”
In 2014, LabVIEW 64-bit for Linux was officially released to the public. The support for this OS ensures that CERN, as well as a vast majority of other leading-edge research laboratories and projects around the world, can continue to benefit from the increased productivity of LabVIEW in an open and sustainable operational environment.
“NI values the significance and benefits of Linux and continues to invest in R&D to ensure the compatibility of customizable commercial off-the-shelf technologies with open-source platforms,” said Stefano Concezzi, vice president of the scientific research segment at NI.
NI and CERN are committed to accelerating scientific innovation and discovery. “The vision of NI and CERN overlap very much. That vision is to improve society with our technologies,” said Johannes Gutleber, a CERN staff member and senior scientist.