DA & Control

National Instruments Delivers Windows 7 Support

December 1, 2009

NI tools integrate with Windows 7 for faster performance and higher throughput with USB data acquisition devices and multicore systems.

AUSTIN, TX /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- National Instruments (NASDAQ:NATI) announced software and hardware compatibility with Windows 7, the latest operating system from Microsoft, to help engineers and scientists attain faster performance and higher throughput within their applications. Engineers and scientists who are considering upgrading to the latest computer hardware can take advantage of several new features in the new operating system. This release, which includes performance and usability enhancements, provides a smooth upgrade experience and improves the environment for hardware and software compatibility, making it ideal for measurement and workstation applications. Windows 7 contains features that provide increased USB data acquisition throughput and take full advantage of multicore processors to improve responsiveness and offer compatibility with the latest computer technologies, including support for PCI Express and 64-bit processors.

"Next-generation measurement systems need to have high throughput and fast performance, as engineers and scientists look for new ways to meet constantly increasing demands for speed in their applications," said Jane Boulware, general manager of U.S. Windows Client at Microsoft. "The benchmarks provided by National Instruments with Windows 7 show engineers an effective method for tackling this issue."

Increased USB Throughput
By combining Windows 7 with the LabVIEW graphical design platform for test, control and embedded system development, engineers and scientists can achieve efficiency gains including elimination of non-necessary timers, selective hub suspension and lower enumeration time for USB flash devices, which increase the performance of USB test and measurement devices. In recent benchmarks of the new NI CompactDAQ chassis with LabVIEW, engineers observed a 10 percent increase in overall attainable bandwidth in Windows 7 as compared to the same hardware running on Windows XP. The increased hardware performance combined with the multicore optimization of both the Windows 7 operating system and the LabVIEW development environment result in a performance increase of up to 20 percent when performing high-speed or multifunction I/O measurements.

To take advantage of these performance increases, engineers may need to install new drivers. Drivers compatible with Windows 7 are available for download from National Instruments at www.ni.com/windows7.

Improved Multicore Use and Multitasking Capability
Data acquisition applications written in LabVIEW and using NI hardware on a multicore computer will benefit from the improvements in Windows 7 designed to further optimize the use of these processors. LabVIEW is an inherently multithreaded software platform that assigns independent, asynchronous processes to separate threads that can be executed in parallel by separate computer cores. LabVIEW programmers can create multiple computationally intensive tasks in a single application to run in parallel and optimize the use of all available cores. Engineers and scientists can use NI drivers such as NI-DAQmx, which are also multithreaded, to efficiently create high-performance acquisition and analysis applications, without having to manually spawn and manage separate threads. A benchmark LabVIEW application with four parallel loops on a quad-core machine executes up to 8 percent faster in Windows 7, compared to Windows XP. Additionally, an NI TestStand parallel sequence benchmark application executes up to 10 percent faster.

"For more than 30 years, NI has continued to deliver on our promise of innovation and continuous improvement in order to give engineers and scientists the tools to be successful, whether you have a simple data acquisition application or a more complex system," said Jon Bellin, vice president of R&D for application and system software at National Instruments. "Our focus on optimization for multicore systems, including the benchmarks we have provided for multicore systems using Windows 7, is an example of our dedication to creating products that help engineers do more."

Enhanced Functionality for PCI Express
Integrating Windows 7 with the PCI Express bus in products such as NI X Series (DAQ) devices more than doubles data throughput compared to using the traditional PCI bus. PCI Express offers several benefits to data acquisition applications, including dedicated bandwidth to each device of up to 250 MBps in each direction. With this additional bandwidth, engineers and scientists can acquire larger quantities of analog, digital and counter data; and, due to the dedicated nature of the bus, engineers can expand their systems to include multiple DAQ devices.

Windows 7 provides native support for 64-bit hardware, and measurement applications running on 64-bit hardware and software can take advantage of a larger amount of physical memory than 32-bit systems. Furthermore, when combined with Windows 7 and NI drivers, additional registers on a 64-bit processor can increase application execution speeds up to 10 percent.

About National Instruments
National Instruments is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 30,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 15 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 5,000 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 10 years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. Readers can obtain investment information from the company's investor relations department by calling (512) 683-5090, e-mailing nati@ni.com or visiting the NI Web site.

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