National Instruments single-board controller offers RIO architecture for smart, grid-tied power-conversion systems


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Provides comprehensive NI LabVIEW system-design tool chain that significantly reduces the cost and risk of embedded-system design.

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General Purpose Integrated Circuit Controller

The new NI (National Instruments) single-board RIO (reconfigurable I/O) GPIC (General Purpose Inverter Controller) enables a new embedded-system-design approach for rapid deployment of advanced, field-reconfigurable, digital energy-conversion systems. The high-level graphical system-design platform and standard RIO FPGA-based control system facilitates companies to in-source their designs, without any knowledge of register level languages such as Verilog and VHDL. Continuous growth in the efficiency of electric power switching devices, as with IGBTs and MOSFETs , combined with accelerated performance and in transistor price improvements, have ensured a rapid increase in energy-efficient power conversion systems for traditional and renewable energy sources. This increase in efficiency requirements has forced power-system designers to use power devices and sophisticated control-system concepts that tax traditional design and analysis tools and techniques. The NI single-board RIO GPIC provides a standard RIO architecture for smart, grid-tied power-conversion systems with a comprehensive NI LabVIEW system-design tool chain that significantly reduces the cost and risk of embedded-system design.

The product reflects the ongoing investments by NI R&D to revolutionise design, testing, and large-scale deployment of new digital energy-conversion systems. The new system provides a standard set of analog and digital I/O and 58 DSP cores embedded in the FPGA fabric to meet the specific control, I/O, performance, and cost needs of most smart-grid power-electronics applications, including DC-AC, AC-DC, DC-DC and AC-AC converters for flexible AC transmission systems, renewable energy generation, energy storage, and variable-speed drives. "NI programming tools actually allow engineers to program the control strategy at the FPGA level, which is the clear path for the future," said Dr. Bill Kramer, acting R&D manager for energy systems integration technology at US DOE's NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory). "Imagine yourself being able to write multiple control strategies that run in parallel to create new power electronics designs than can be reconfigured at the hardware level after years of deployment on the grid." NI Single-Board RIO GPIC Features:

  • Prevalidated, deployment-ready embedded system with complete set of analog and digital I/O for rapid deployment of advanced FPGA-based power-electronics control systems
  • Comprehensive graphical system design tool chain with high-fidelity power-electronics circuit simulator for rapid development and verification of user-defined LabVIEW FPGA control algorithms
  • 58 DSP core hardware parallel Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA that outperforms typical dual-core DSPs by a factor of 40x, 24x and 10x, with regards to performance per dollar, per chip and per watt, respectively
  • Embedded 400-MHz PowerPC processor with VxWorks real-time OS supports smart-grid networking protocols DNP3, IEC 60870-5 and IEC 61850; onboard COMTRADE (IEEE 37.111) data logging; and standard three-phase IEC, EN and IEEE power-quality analysis
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