Getting on the bus: PCI, PXI Profibus interfaces

National Instruments introduced new PCI and PXI Profibus interfaces, helping control engineers integrate LabView software into benchtop, real-time, and device test networks.


National Instruments (NI) introduced new PCI and PXI Profibus interfaces to add compatibility and flexibility to industrial systems. With the new interfaces, control engineers can integrate NI LabView software into benchtop, real-time and device test Profibus networks.
The Profibus interfaces include a LabView driver with Express VIs for rapid application development. Express VIs are easy-to-use configuration-based blocks that simplify communication between LabView and the Profibus network. With these Express VIs, engineers can add Profibus support to new or existing LabView applications for human machine interface (HMI), SCADA, real-time control and test without additional programming.
Profibus interfaces function as either master or slave devices on Profibus networks. As a master, the interface controls the timing and arbitration of the network by integrating with LabView and LabView Real-Time. Engineers can use the interface to control Profibus slave devices such as motor drives, sensors, distributed I/O and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). As a slave used with LabView Real-Time on a PC or PXI system, the interface integrates NI high-performance data acquisition, motion, vision and modular instruments into existing Profibus-enabled machines and processes.
The interfaces also include a graphical utility to configure network timing and set up Profibus slaves on a network. The software abstracts the low-level details, and imports standard .GS* files for configuring I/O in an application. Configurations are saved in an open XML file format and integrate with Express VIs in the LabView driver.
With LabView, the company says, engineers can significantly reduce the programming complexity commonly associated with sophisticated control systems like Profibus networks, and, with real-time control, engineers can create applications that run predictably in time with increased reliability and offer stand-alone operation. With the parallel dataflow language of LabView in Profibus networks, engineers can easily balance several measurement and control tasks between the multiple processor cores available on today’s standard PC platforms. The latest version of LabView delivers performance gains with deterministic real-time multithreading, improved thread-safe I/O drivers and automatic scaling based on the total number of available processing cores. The LabView configuration utility simplifies setting up a control network with the Profibus interface.
In addition, an onboard processor, memory and flash storage enable the interfaces to reliably communicate with the Profibus network independently of PC performance or jitter. If the host machine has a software failure, the rest of the Profibus network continues to operate normally.
— Edited by C.G. Masi , senior editor
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