Software developers who write code for 32-bit processors now have a tool that simplifies their job. The new LabVIEW Embedded Development Module extends the graphical LabVIEW programming language to any 32-bit microprocessor. Thus, embedded-system programmers can drag and drop controls and functions and draw lines between them to link data-flow paths as well as timing and control operations. In this way, programmers concentrate on developing their algorithms and ensuring they work properly rather than waste time debugging complex data structures, I/O routines, memory allocations, and so on. LabVIEW automatically matches data types, handles memory allocations, and performs other housekeeping tasks that can divert programmers' energies from their application.
Because the Embedded Development Module (EDM) builds on National Instruments' popular LabVIEW software, developers have access to more than 400 building blocks—each represented as a graphical entity with connection points—for signal-processing, curve-fitting, statistical, I/O, and other operations. The graphical representation of functions and operations provides an accurate view of concurrent processes and an effective view of how they operate with respect to time.
Application software must run on a real processor, so the LabVIEW EDM includes a framework for integration of I/O drivers and board-support packages. (That software comes with development and commercial embedded-system boards and modules.) At present, the LabVIEW EDM works directly with Freescale PowerPC, Axiom CMD 565, and the Intel IXDP 425 processors. Engineers can link a LabVIEW development PC to several types of development boards that include these processors.
National Instruments expects third parties will provide direct links to other 32-bit processors and development boards. In the meantime, because LabVIEW will generate C code, developers can take the source code and use it with any 32-bit microprocessor that supports a C-language toolchain.
At any time during development, programmers can use LabVIEW's standard graphical front panels, indicators, controls, signal sources, and other functions. Thus, they can "tap into" their code and data flow to monitor operation, test various operating conditions, and perform real-world situations. This aspect of program development lets them incorporate prototypes of code and hardware earlier in their design steps.
The LabVIEW Embedded Development Module will most appeal to programmers who have some experience with LabVIEW and who have developed code for embedded systems. National Instruments also offers LabVIEW modules that target DSP chips and FPGAs. And the company provides compatible hardware that provides DSP and FPGA functions.