NI LabVIEW works with Particle Accelerator and Tokamak controls | Automation.com

NI LabVIEW works with Particle Accelerator and Tokamak controls

May 25, 2009 – National Instruments announced that the NI LabVIEW graphical system design platform now integrates with the Experimental Physics and Industrial Control System (EPICS) input/output controller (IOC), which is used in the control systems of particle accelerators, tokamak fusion devices and other big physics applications. With LabVIEW EPICS IOC integration, engineers and scientists can use LabVIEW as a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution for integrating industrial control and data acquisition hardware, a task that previously required custom driver development.

Because the EPICS set of open-source control system applications has become a de facto standard for particle physics experimentation systems throughout the United States and other countries, National Instruments has been collaborating with experts in the field to improve hardware integration for these applications. NI engineers worked with Slovenia-based Cosylab, a National Instruments Alliance Partner and provider of turnkey particle accelerator control systems, to implement an interface between LabVIEW and the EPICS IOC on embedded hardware for the linear accelerator project at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) in New Mexico. The solution, based on the Wind River VxWorks real-time operating system, incorporated the NI CompactRIO programmable automation controller and demonstrated that, with LabVIEW EPICS IOC integration, EPICS can run simultaneously with the LabVIEW Real-Time Module to interface with I/O that is based on field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology for high-speed data acquisition and control.

“With LabVIEW integration for EPICS, scientists and engineers can use the latest COTS hardware, such as NI CompactRIO and PXI instrumentation, for the variety of advanced control and data acquisition needs associated with experimental physics applications,” said Dr. James Truchard, president, CEO and cofounder of National Instruments and former physicist at Applied Research Laboratories of The University of Texas at Austin. “We are continuing to expand the ways we integrate LabVIEW with EPICS, with the end goal being high-performance flexibility that simplifies sophisticated tasks. With the advanced features available through commercial hardware and software, we can help physicists and engineers focus on performing their experiments rather than spending time developing custom hardware and drivers.”

CompactRIO offers an embedded hardware platform that features FPGA-based I/O. With FPGA technology, systems become inherently parallel, efficient and reliable, which makes FPGA-based hardware valuable for critical systems, such as those in particle accelerators. Additionally, scientists can program FPGAs using LabVIEW for enhanced system flexibility.

The results that LabVIEW EPICS IOC integration delivers can be used for a variety of advanced applications that require a simplified means by which physicists can integrate all hardware instruments within their accelerators and other devices. The LabVIEW EPICS solution is ideal for streamlining the control of tokamaks and accelerators because it reduces the need for time-intensive hardware development and custom driver implementation.

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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