There's one hardware platform that comes with software drivers that has led many companies
to success. The ZBrain (www.zbrain.ch) is a LabVIEW Addon developped by an Alliance Member
of NI that has specialized in deeply embedded microcontroller hardware which is based on ADI
blackfin and ARM microcontrollers. Until now, customers around the world develop applications
still based on the latest version 2009. However, in 2012, a new product will be released that is
based on the latest National Instruments ANSI-C-Code-Generator.
I hope this helps.
The solution you propose appears very risky for the end user (i.e. me) but very lucritive for NI.
NI abandoned LabVIEW for Blackfin about 2 years ago now. This left one of its biggest customers - Schmid Engineering, suddenly without a future for its LabVIEW blackfin products (being stuck with LV2009 is not a long term option for many reasons). I assume recently NI communicated with Schmid that they threw them a lifeline in the form of LabVIEW C Code Generator SDK. From NI's perspective Schmid are a captive audience and NI can abuse that by charging whatever they like. Guess how much my local NI sales rep quoted me for a copy of this product ? A$60,000. That's right , about US$63,000. That is outrageous !! As if I won't be enough for the LabVIEW embedded for ARM (LVEA), costing A$12793.00. You would have to be pretty desperate to program in LabVIEW if you were prepared to pay A$60K for a license to target any micro with that SDK. Perhaps Schmid has some deal with NI to get it cheaper, and the might even offer it to theor customers cheaper too, but it would have to be MUCH cheaper before I even considered looking at what it could do.
The next problem I have is that there is no guarantee that NI won't pull the plug on this latest c-code generator. They did it once for LabVIEW for the Blackfin and unless I have it in writing there is no way I would trust them not to do it again. What evidence is there that they are marketing this C-code generator to other people ? At that price I think Schmid must be the only customer right now. A large community base is vital for the end user to ensure they can get plenty of help etc.- that ain't gonna happen with those crazy prices and little marketing from NI.
One more thing, if I could somehow rationalise spending A$60K and get the c-code generator SDK, I would still have to write all my own drivers to create my own "Tier 1" board. That logic is backwards. I pay more money and do more work to get something I could do in pure C for about 1/20th the price. NI could very easily release new tier 1 boards for LVEA every 2 years. But I assume they choose not to as they think it reduce their profits. Most of NI's money is made from LabVIEW S/W sales, not thei custom H/W (cRIO, sbRIO etc) so I can't see why increasing LabVIEW sales (which is needed for LVEA) with a few less H/W sales will hurt their bottom line.
Now a beta of the new LabVIEW Blackfin solution is available. It is based on LabVIEW 2011 and the
new NI ANSI-C-Code-Generator. Information can be found here: http://wiki.schmid-engineering.ch/zsystem4.
To find out the whole functionality, you can have a look at the wiki that was based on 2009: http://wiki.schmid-engineering.ch/zsystem
More information can be found in the NI Alliance Member Program: look for Schmid Elektronik aka Schmid Engineering.
You mentioned the pricing model.The pricing for this new product follows the model of the former product,
however, for this product, the C-Code-Generator is limited to be used on Blackfin Processors only. I believe, that makes it still worth
considering to programm a micro with LabVIEW