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The NI Idea Exchange is a product feedback forum where NI R&D and users work together to submit ideas, collaborate on their development, and vote for the ones they like best. View all of the NI Idea Exchanges to post an idea or add your opinion on an existing one today!
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Improvements for Continuous Integration

Status: New
by Member AndyBrown on ‎02-25-2015 09:48 AM

Proper unit testing is a key component of large LVFPGA project success.  As the number of modules grows, so does the number of units tests increase.  We are working on automatic continuous integration methods that will continue to monitor the accuracy of all modules and assemblies throughout the project life cycle.  IP Integration node and NI's wrapper around Xilinx IP makes this task more difficult.  When our continuous integration machine refreshes the source code from the repository it has to regenerate these nodes in order to compile.  The "Regenerate IP Integration Node Support Files..." tool does not always properly update all IP.  It seems like the NI wrappers around Xilinx IP are most problematic.  The only way a computer can properly update its version of the node is to open the VI and click through the Xilinx IP generation pages to get it to update.


As a rule we do not commit build products into our source code repository.  One option would be to submit all the support files generated when first creating the IP integration node so that others users might not have to update.  This can become messy and quickly unwielding.  The problem arrises when changes to the IP integration node cause more or fewer support files to be generated.  This then requires deleting some files from the repository and adding others which is tedious and leads to errors.  One compromise would be if the IP integration created one single compact file that contains all the information needed (expect the input vhd, etc. files) that could be committed to the repository.  Even better would be to roll this information into the VI itself.  Neither of these might be ideal if the support file contents take up a lot of disk space.


Regardless there needs to be a better solution to allow for automated continuous integration testing.

Improve Compile Retrieval Process

Status: New
by Member AndyBrown on ‎02-25-2015 07:34 AM

Long compile times are a necessary evil of FPGA code.  Even with the vast improvements of Vivado, compile time still ranks as the biggest killer of large project efficiency.  As compile times approach 3-4 hours, their successful completion becomes paramount.  All too often I find that the Xilinx compiler running on the compile worker has completed successfully however some small communication glitch either between my development machine and the farmer or the farmer and the worker has caused the compile to be lost.  It is quite frustrating to know you have a completed bitfile from Xilinx but the NI tools will not perform the final processing steps required to create the lvbitx file.  The only solution is to restart the compile costing another 3-4 hours of productivity.


Typical workflow in our company for these large projects is to spend mornings testing and stressing the compile(s) from overnight.  Then make any bug fixes and incremental feature improvements and try to start a compile by mid-morning.  By mid-afternoon when the compile is complete do the process again so that you can process another build for overnight.  If one of the compiles fails because of timing or resource problems, there's nothing that can be done.  But if it fails because of glitches in NI's compile wrapper code, that becomes a waste of a half of a day of productivity.


I propose that the current methods for compiling bitfiles be modified.  The goal is to improve user productivity.  Some of my suggestions include:

  • For a given build specification, give it the ability to re-attempt to retrieve the last completed compile. This option would be available even if the VI's that created that compile had been modified.
  • If a compile was completed previously for this build specification and there has yet to be a successful lvbitx generation, prompt the user before doing anything that would destroy the ability to retrieve it.
  • Make sure that all of this still works when changing connections to the worker.  For example if I start my compile at work then take my laptop home and want to login to my VPN at night to check on my compile
  • Don't remove any chance to get a compile if there was a communication error.  Right now when I get the communication error, I see a red X in the compilation status and my only option is to remove it from the list.

Better FPGA FP Control Selection

Status: New
by Trusted Enthusiast on ‎01-13-2015 10:36 AM

When there are many controls on the front panel of the FPGA, selecting the control from a Read/Write Control node in the host can become a pain.  It is one very large list of controls on the front panel of the FPGA.  This list has no scrollbar, no browse, or search feature, and no obvious way of grouping controls.


Here is one example of a front panel, and a video showing how long it takes to scroll through the list of contorls.


FPGA Front Panel.png


And here is the video of me scrolling through the controls:


There is plenty of room for improvement.  Here are just a few ways I think NI could make this better.


Browse and Search


When using a Property Node, or Invoke Node, the very top option is to "Browse..."  From here a list of all properties, or methods can be seen in a resizeable window.  Here you can also search, and sort alphabetically.  The Read/Write Control node could have similar functionality making selection of controls easier.


Front Panel Selection From FPGA


There could be an option for creating a node by selecting the controls on the front panel of the FPGA.  A solution that may work today, is to select the controls, then invoke a custom QuickDrop command that creates the node and puts it in the clipboard so it can be pasted in the host VI.  If this were to become an option, I'd hope there is a way to combine two nodes into one, by concatenating the controls of one onto the other. 


Front Panel Selection From Host


Lets say you already have the Read/Write Control node on the host.  There could be an option by right clicking that would open a new window, showing a static image of the front panel of the FPGA, which the user could then click on.  This would be great because the developer probably already knows the control they want based on the front panel location.  I don't know how possible this is because you could load a bit file which won't have any front panel information. 


Easier Grouping of Controls


Right now there is a way to group controls of an FPGA.  This feature is never talked about, and doesn't work on dynamic bit files.  Here is a discussion where I describe the steps to make controls grouped on the host.  Still this isn't supported on all FPGA setups, and you have to conform to a specific naming convention.  Why can't controls that are grouped on the front panel, just be grouped in the host?



This idea exchange is really for any kind of improvement to the FPGA control selection.

Get reference to currently deployed bitfile on FPGA target

Status: New
by Active Participant smithd on ‎11-13-2014 11:15 AM - last edited on ‎02-25-2015 10:31 AM by Active Participant Dragis

Basically I want a VI like open FPGA VI ref which takes a RIO interface and returns a reference, except that it doesn't deploy a reference if one doesn't exist. It would instead pop out a boolean or error if you try to get a reference and there is no bitfile already deployed.


Two use cases I have in mind:


-Imagine if you need a cRIO to start working ASAP so you deploy your bitfile to flash and tell it to run on power-up. You still have to package the exact same bitfile with your RTEXE, even though its already deployed. This increases the size of your RTexe significantly. Lets say you version your RTexe and don't version the FPGA deployed to flash. Depending on what the signature check is, obtaining a reference to your bitfile may cause the "new" bitfile to be redeployed, eliminating the advantage of loading your bitfile onto flash in the first place.


-Imagine if you have a framework like veristand where you need to use a single bitfile in multiple locations which were written by different developers and possibly released at different times. The tools on NI labs ( help a lot and let you, once you have a reference, confirm the reference has all the interfaces you need to run your code. However, if you need to share references between code modules you must still be sure to obtain it in just one place and then share the reference yourself using a global or FGV.


Having the RIO driver solve this would be very helpful.

Hi How about facility of import and export of I/O Label in FPGA-Real time project as shown image instead of manually renaming each I/O


IO Label.jpg

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FlexRIO Breakout Extender

Status: New
by Member xl600 on ‎10-24-2014 05:13 PM

There needs to be a way to physically probe the FlexRIO card edge when a NI or custom module is installed.  A time honored method of debugging has always been to probe signals with an o-scope or logic analyzer.  To route debugging signals to unused pins (EX: Within a CLIP) for probing seems a necessity when dealing with hardware and FPGAs.


Lets get them to design one and make it into a purchasable accessory!

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This has been a huge frustration in my development.  There is no way to debug a Flex RIO + NI1483 FPGA design other than to tweak, compile, and test with actual hardware.  NI should provide a VHDL behavioral simuation of all of their modules so that full end-to-end simulation can be performed using advanced simulators such as ModelSim.  This would facilitate a much more robust FPGA development cycle for their customers who have these types of tools available.


For the NI1483, a VHDL simulation combined with a VHDL Camera Link behavioral model would be even better.  But the CameraLink model could be developed by the customers as it (At least) is a standard or can be gleened from camera manufacturer documentation.

I've searched but can't see anything similar - please add a method for setting the timeout for FPGA nodes. This includes the 'Open FPGA reference' and FPGA IO nodes.


If you disconnect a cRIO FPGA (e.g. NI 9148) from the network, it takes 20-30s for the IO node or Open FPGA reference to execute. This is really bad for the user experience as if they try to exit their application in this time it may take half a minute for the application to exit. It also means you may have to wait that length of time to realise that your FPGA has disconnected under most use cases (you can obviously have an external watchdog loop to check that the node is executing in a timely manner)


Please allow me to configure the timeouts for these nodes similar to the TCP/UDP or VISA nodes. They are very similar in how they operate to the FPGA nodes (i.e. a hardware device driver which is susceptible to disconnects!) so I don't understand why these have been omitted.


I wouldn't mind having to set the timeout as part of opening the FPGA reference and then internally have it use the same timeout for other IO nodes as follows:




Allow project hosted IO module CLIP

Status: Already Implemented
by Member xl600 on ‎09-18-2014 12:32 PM

While attempting to debug NI1483 issues, I found it necessary to make modifications to the NI1483 CLIP.  In LabView 2014 and earlier, it's not possible to maintain your own IO Module CLIP directory.  One must maintain all IO Modules within the IO module search path (<National Instruments>\Shared\FlexRIO\IO Modules folder ).  This can be done by copying an existing IO module to a new path within the <National Instruments>\Shared\FlexRIO\IO Modules folder, then editing the *.tbc file to rename the "model" key.  The main issues with this approach are the potential lack of administrator permissions and the difficulty of maintaining source control in a non-project related system directory.


The suggestion is thus:


1. Give the user an option to select the path of the IO module under the IO module Properties General Category (When Enable IO Module is selected).


That's it!


Status: Already Implemented

You can add the modified CLIP in the FPGA target properties like you would a user-defined CLIP.  When you configure the IO module, the modified CLIP will show up along with the rest of the CLIPs.

Support SGL as type for User-Defined Variables

Status: New
by Member gregopher on ‎08-22-2014 08:58 AM

I often work with the FPGA in hybrid mode because the Scan Interface covers most of the project requirements 90% of the time.  When NI added support for the SGL datatype to the FPGA module in 2012 (?), they overlooked user-defined variables.  There is currently no built-in support for typecasting a SGL to U32, so passing SGL data back to the host requires FP controls or using custom typecasting solutions (see SGL typecast) on both the FPGA and host layers.


Please add SGL as an option for user-defined variables.



0 Kudos

FPGA Forced Recompile on other Targets.

Status: New
by Member trevie1970 on ‎08-13-2014 02:34 PM

What I would like to see when transferring FPGA Projects from one target machine to another, that I will not be forced to recompile the Vi code when testing the FPGA code whilst passing parameters within the front panel when executed on the new target., Work arounds like creating a small host front panel to allow parameter changes kind of defeats the object of a FPGA Front panel execution.

Allow Type Cast in FPGA

Status: New
by Knight of NI on ‎08-12-2014 02:29 PM

We need a way to simply reinterpret the bits in our FPGAs.  I currently have a situation where I need to change my SGL values into U32 for the sake of sending data up to the host.  Currently, the only way is to make an IP node.  That is just silly.  We should be able to use the Type Cast simply for the purpose of reinterpreting the bits.

Incremental Compile LabVIEW FPGA

Status: New
by Active Participant e.ono on ‎07-31-2014 07:47 PM

Hello all.


It is time-consuming that we have to compile all LabVIEW FPGA code even if there is tiny little change on FPGA code.

I understand there is sampling probe, Desktop execution node and simulation tools to reduce such time.


Our customer in Japan, would like to use incremental compile function also on LabVIEW.(Please see below)

I agree his opinion.


What do you think?


Eisuke Ono

Application Engineer at National Instruments Japan.



FPGA resource utilisation visualisation

Status: New
by Trusted Enthusiast ‎07-31-2014 06:18 AM - edited ‎07-31-2014 06:20 AM


How amazing yould it be to have the ability to visualise resource usage on a FPGA target using a similar view to that shown above (courtesy of Windirstat)


I only recently shaved a significant portion off my FPGA usage by finding out that I had a massively oversized FIFO in my code for almost a year without noticing.  I feel that this kind of visualisation (with mouse over showing what is actually occupying the space) with differentiation between Registers, LUTs, BRAM, DSPs and so on would greatly aid those of us trying to squeeze as much as possible out of our FPGA designs.


I think providing this information based on the "estimated resource utilisation" i.e. before Xilinx optimises stuff away would be OK.  I'm not sure if the final resource utilisation can be mapped as accurately in this way.


It would also be nice to see CLIP utilisation and NI-internal utilisation at a glance as this is apparently hugely different between targets.



Change the font in the Xilinx Log window to fixed width

Status: New
by Trusted Enthusiast ‎07-24-2014 07:42 AM - edited ‎07-24-2014 07:42 AM

Xilinx log window should use a fixed-width font.


Which of these two string indicators with identical content is easier to read?


FPGA Xilinx Log font.png


The one on the left is Courier, the one on the right is the default Application font

When you are using same code on different boards, it would be a big help if you could set the "FPGA VI Reference" indicator as "Adapt to source". When I use dirrerent DMA on different target, then the wire break every time I change target:


My FGV for the FPGA reference looks like:


FPGA ref Adapt to source.png

Memory Persistence/Volatility on FPGA

Status: New
by Member JordanJMcBain on ‎07-17-2014 11:30 AM

Well it seems that persistent/non-volatile memory is not available on FPGA targets for scenarios involving cycling power.


Apparently, the recommended approach is to transfer the data to the host and store it to disk.


This is a bit problematic in that the choice is either to write data to disk at a high rate or to accept that the most recent data might not be reloaded on restart.  For instance, an operator might expect to know exactly how many revolutions a shaft has undergone after power cycles to the FPGA target. A guaranttee that this information is as up to date as possible probably can't be met (maybe even under transferring data to disk at a high rate).


So I'd like to request this. 

Run-Time Dynamic Dispatch Support

Status: New
by Active Participant Dragis on ‎06-23-2014 08:35 AM

The LabVIEW FPGA module has supported static dispatch of LabVIEW Class types since 2009. This essentially means all class wires must be analyzable and statically determinable at compile-time to a single type of class. However, this class can be a derived class of the original wire type which means, for instance, invoking a dynamic dispatch method can be supported since the compiler knows exactly which function will always be called.


This is not sufficient for many applications. Implementations that require message passing or other more event oriented programming models tend to use enums and flattened bit vectors to pass different pieces of data around on the same wire. All of this packing and unpacking can automatically be handled by the compiler if we can use run-time dynamic dispatch to describe the application.


We call for the LabVIEW FPGA module to add support for true run-time dynamic dispatch to take care of this tedious, annoying, and down-right boring job of figuring out how to pack and unpack bits everywhere. Whose with me?

When accessing a FPGA control / indicator from the HOST, a ~property node is used, and the developer has to pick the right control / indicator from a list


When there's lots of items on the list, it can be a pain to scan the list for the right one.


At the moment they are listed in order they were created on the FPGA.


Could they instead be listed in alphabetical order? Or give the developer the choice?



A very useful feature of the FPGA Butterworth filter is the ability to use it multiple times, saving FPGA resources.


However this is not possible for 32 bit wide filters, only for 16 bit filters.


It would be useful if the 32bit filters could go multichannel too, at least two channel



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