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Innovations

Linux Support – Even for Real Time Extensions
Only a very few select firms offer professionally developed, fully supported Linux data-acq drivers that give programmers access to all on-board hardware functions. UEI is a leading figure in this trend. Our drivers are compatible with all major Linux distributions. In addition, these drivers work with the realtime extensions available from FSMLabs and RTAI. Thus, you can develop a hard realtime system and get away from all the problems associated with reliability under Windows.

LabVIEW for Linux
Using our experience with Linux drivers, we were the first firm to offer support software that allows you to collect data directly into LabVIEW for Linux – something that nobody else offers, not even the developer of LabVIEW itself! With our drop-in replacement VIs, you can port a data-acq application running under Windows on NI hardware to Linux (or, even better, Real Time Linux) on UEI hardware in a matter of minutes.

Real Time Support
As you’ve already seen, we support Real Time Linux, but that’s not where our support for realtime development stops. We’re also proud to offer a driver compatible with QNX, one of the premier RTOSs on the market. We’re constantly expanding our realtime support, so call to see if we’ve now got drivers for your favorite RTOS.

Multithreaded NT Driver with SMP Support
Of course, we support every common version of Windows. However, our software development group took the time to write a driver that is optimized for Windows NT and 2000 and so takes full advantage of those environments’ potential. For instance, even on a single-CPU system the software allows multiple I/O subsystems to execute concurrently. If some idle time comes up in a task, it doesn’t wait for completion but rather immediately passes control to other tasks. This multithreading also means you can run multiple boards at high throughput rates concurrently. And in symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP) systems this driver can automatically distribute tasks to the various CPUs without user intervention.

Support for Every Major Test-Development Environment
Beyond LabVIEW – where our drop-in replacement VIs are available for both Linux and Windows – we support all major test environments. Our latest additions are MATLAB, SIMULINK and xPC from The MathWorks. Of course, you’ll find drivers for your old friends: Agilent VEE, DASYLab, DIAdem and TestPoint.

PowerDAQ Capabilities on PXI
This document details some of the great hardware/software advances we’ve made with our PCI-based PowerDAQ family. Even better, we’ve taken this power and moved it over to the PXI platform in our PDXI family. Thus you get a familiar software environment, but the PCI bus takes on a new ruggedized form. But with UEI moving to PXI means no limitations in performance.

DSP Powered PCI Interface
It’s easy to put a commercial PCI-interface chip on a data-acq board, but performance often suffers because those devices aren’t optimized for test and measurement. We started with a Motorola DSP chip, which features an integral burst mode bus-mastering PCI interface and six high-speed DMA channels. We then wrote specialized firmware that ties our I/O subsystems tightly into the bus interface. We also integrated performance-boosting hardware resources. Our design strategy was to optimize the load among all these resources, including the DSP, so the board could sustain a high level of performance while reducing the load other boards typically place on the host PC’s CPU. The result? The board moves analog and digital data at extremely high rates unachievable with conventional devices and techniques, and it easily keeps up with our fastest 1.25 MS/s multifunction boards.

Simultaneous Operation of all Subsystems
Most data acquisition boards provide multiple subsystems to handle analog inputs, analog outputs, digital I/O and counter/timers. Most vendors also claim that these subsystems can all run at the same time, but beware! In many cases subsystems must share resources such as timers or DMA channels and in reality can’t all be run together. PowerDAQ boards, in contrast, incorporate a DSP along with system timing control logic and other resources that allow all subsystems to run concurrently at high speeds.

Custom Front-End Instrumentation Amplifier
Most data-acq boards use low-cost commercial programmable-gain amplifiers in their analog front ends. In applications when multiple channels operate at different gains, though, they generally require you to drop the sampling rate from peak-rated speed. We solved that problem by carefully selecting components for a custom instrumentation amplifier that achieves wide bandwidth at high gains with low harmonic distortion. This approach also allows us to optimize the front end for each member of the PowerDAQ family. As a result you pay no throughput or accuracy penalties when performing multichannel acquisition with different gains-even at peak speeds.

Highest Effective Number of Bits
PowerDAQ is optimized both for DC and AC measurements. Our engineers performed extensive research and testing of components and circuits designs. Using only highest grade devices in the industry with low noise and distortion, low non-linearity and high slew rate, we approach the very edge of the theoretical limit for the maximum effective number of bits (ENOBs). We designed and optimized every stage of the analog signal path to eliminate static and dynamic inaccuracies. Resistors, capacitors and their locations had been chosen to minimize noise and distortion introduced by passive elements. Our analog circuitry is also powered separately using a well-filtered and ultra-clean DC/DC converter.