National Instruments SOM simplifies embedded FPGA integration

July 10, 2014

Bernard Cole-July 10, 2014

To make designing FPGA based embedded designs easier National Instruments  has just introduced its NI System on Module, combining a Xilinx Zynq FPGA system on a chip (SoC) with supporting components such as memory on a small PCB.

According to Jamie Smith, director of embedded systems marketing at NI, it is designed as a complete middleware solution that includes a Linux-based operating system and is based on the LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture.

She said design teams can use CompactRIO to quickly prototype their applications and then deploy them with the same code used for prototyping, which saves significant time and effort.

The integrated software components provide out-of-the-box support for peripherals such as Ethernet or USB, interfaces to components like memory, and the communication interface between the processor and FPGA.

It extends the LabVIEW graphical development platform, provides an alternative to HDL through a graphical programming approach that simplifies the task of interfacing to I/O and communicating data.

The NI SOM is shipped with an integrated heat spreader that simplifies the design, tooling, and manufacturing of a user-defined thermal solution. The NI SOM features components of various heights, and the heat spreader provides a thermal connect to each and every component, leaving a flat surface for mounting to a wide variety of thermal solutions, such as a heat sink or a thermally conductive enclosure.

Included in the NI SOM Development Kit is a reference carrier board that exposes all of the available peripherals (Gigabit Ethernet x2, USB host, USB device, SD, RS232 x2, RS485, CAN, DIO x48, and PMOD x4) and provides the design files to integrate them into your own custom carrier board design.

The reference carrier board also provides a digital prototyping area to communicate with specific chip sets as well as four PMOD connectors to help accelerate your I/O selection and integration into LabVIEW. Many chip vendors offer PMOD modules that range from simple analog I/O to stereo power amplifiers.

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