NI launches LabVIEW 2010 targets FPGAs

National Instruments has announced a new release of its LabVIEW graphical systems design platform, claiming improved program compile times and extended support for programming FPGAs.

The new version, LabVIEW 2010, can integrate any third-party code for FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) into LabVIEW applications, and provides access to a marketplace where engineers can try and buy toolkits from NI and other developers that add custom functionality to the platform, the company said.

“LabVIEW 2010 is about saving time,” said Tristan Jones, NI's technical marketing leader for the UK & Ireland. “Its compiler is a lot more complex than the typical compiler because of the parallelism in LabVIEW.”

He added that the software was redesigned internally, explaining: “It was time to rearchitect LabVIEW internally to make it possible to optimise code a lot better. It works at multiple levels in the compiler, we use open source LLVM (Low Level Virtual Machine) to do instruction generation – that allows users to work with a high degree of abstraction and get highly optimised code.”

Announced at the company's NIWeek user conference in Austin, Texas, the new software is compatible with FPGA-developer Xilinx's development tools, and also includes technology to locate and eliminate both unreachable code and duplicated sub-expressions.

NI said that as well as a claimed 20 percent increase in code execution speed, thanks to greater parallelism and the use of technology such as LLVM, it had implemented more than a dozen new features suggested by users via its LabVIEW Idea Exchange online feedback forum. Examples include the ability to add labels to 'wires' within LabVIEW graphical systems, and the ability to access and configure LabVIEW real-time targets via a Web browser.

“LabVIEW users are some of the most innovative people in the world, and their input helps us make LabVIEW an ever more effective and productive programming tool,” said Jeff Kodosky, the NI co-founder who the company describes as 'the father of LabVIEW.’

“With LabVIEW 2010, we have taken their feedback and suggestions and opened up the platform to further customisation so that our customers and partners can expand LabVIEW to new applications that have not yet experienced the power and efficiency of graphical programming,” added Kodosky.

Other new features in LabVIEW 2010 include the ability to delegate code compilation to a compile farm either locally or in the cloud, and improved interfaces to reusable code which NI said should help with code maintenance in large group projects, for example.

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