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LabVIEW can support FPGA ?

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On 2016/10/28 at 6:01 AM, MarkCG said:

I like many others have wanted to be able to target any Xilinx FPGA with LabVIEW. There are at least two projects that I could have done if this was possible. What these guys have done is impressive. I hope product forces NI and Xilinx to finally officially allow targeting any and all Xilinx FPGAs with NI tools. They could try taking legal action but I think they have more to lose than to gain by that route.


A free trial of Pocket-RIO is available.

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On 2016/10/28 at 6:01 AM, MarkCG said:

I like many others have wanted to be able to target any Xilinx FPGA with LabVIEW. There are at least two projects that I could have done if this was possible. What these guys have done is impressive. I hope product forces NI and Xilinx to finally officially allow targeting any and all Xilinx FPGAs with NI tools. They could try taking legal action but I think they have more to lose than to gain by that route.

You can test it!

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On 2016/10/24 at 6:22 PM, Neil Pate said:

I think perhaps we have a different definition of the word *any*, but I do not wish to take your thunder away. This is very impressive what you have managed to create, clearly a lot of work has gone into it. I seem to recall seeing something like this a few years ago?

This is almost certainly a non-NI sanctioned product, are you aware of any legal ramifications of piggybacking into the toolchain? What I mean is, if we have a valid FPGA Toolkit license is this actually legal?

My Chinese is not so good, so the website is not much help. Do you have pricing information?

Also, the Atom-RIO looks very interesting, I presume it is like a cRIO type clone?

Our product is not a cRIO clone. It looks like cRIO. But it  just only looks like cRIO. We know how labview fpga and xilinx tools works for program. Then we make our product can run with labview fpga. 

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On 2016/10/24 at 9:05 PM, hooovahh said:

Very interesting.  Certainly parts of the work flow are different from the NI implementation, like being able to just run the FPGA from the front panel, instead of having to compile it, then create a host to control it.  Also the change to using your own custom (XNodes I assume) for the interfacing.  Also is it me or does the transfer of the bit file seem slow?  I mean you show a very basic program but it seems to take a while to download.

Beyond that I'm not aware of any precedence being set by NI on these clone hardware.  Plenty of DAQ devices have been made by 3rd party vendors, most with a simple interface via a DLL wrapper, or VISA calls to the hardware.  LabJack is one that comes to mind.  Then there is the more advanced clones like the mentioned Hand-RIO.  I've not heard of a time when NI has come down and not allowed a company to make a product, but then again some of these advanced ones that clearly use the NI tool chain in ways that NI didn't intend, are out of countries that NI is not headquartered in.  I'm not a lawyer, but I would not make a business out of these types of products, due to concerns that NI would sue the pants off of me.

We do not need NI to allow us to do this. Indeed NI is not anyone to to this. We have buy LabVIEW professional,FPGA module and RT module from NI. You see it is mostlike the way NI cRIO self hardware works. But it is totally different inside between NI hardware and ours. For Atom-RIO or Hand-RIO(old name) we use PCIe and DMA. We write our code in FPGA and develop the driver ourselves. The toolkit in LabVIEW PC is developed with xnode. But the code inside is totally different from NI. We do not know the code for NI inside yet and we will never know. 

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On 2016/10/28 at 5:08 AM, rolfk said:

Definitely! NI licensed the Xilinx toolchain from Xilinx to be distributed as part of the FPGA toolkit and there will be certainly some limitations in the fine print that Xilinx requires NI to follow as part of that license deal. They do not want ANY customer to be able to rip out the toolchain from a LabVIEW FPGA installation to program ANY Xilinx FPGA hardware with and not having to buy the toolchain from Xilinx instead, which starts at $2995 for a node locked Vivado Design HL license, which I would assume to be similar to what NI bundles, except that NI also bundles the older version for use with older cRIO systems. So while NI certainly won't like such hardware offerings, as it hurts their cRIO sales to some extend, they may contractually be obligated to proceed on such attempts to circumvent the Xilinx/NI license deal, if they want to or not. 

We do not only can develop cRIO but also Flex-RIO and single board RIO. It is just same technology inside. So we can run all of xilinx FPGAs. You may it in another way. LabVIEW FPGA is so cool but NI profuct is so expansive. I believe many do not have much money to buy a cRIO. Also people use cRIO to do research. No can use cRIO to deply in their products for number of thousands one year. So we do not think we are competition relationship with NI. In opposite we are cooperation relationship with NI. We can let more people use LabVIEW and LabVIEW FPGA. NI's customers is also not our target customers. 

This is our thought but how NI thinks we do not know. 

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On 2016/10/28 at 6:01 AM, MarkCG said:

I like many others have wanted to be able to target any Xilinx FPGA with LabVIEW. There are at least two projects that I could have done if this was possible. What these guys have done is impressive. I hope product forces NI and Xilinx to finally officially allow targeting any and all Xilinx FPGAs with NI tools. They could try taking legal action but I think they have more to lose than to gain by that route.

We are not illegal so we can post it here to let all of yours know. We also not afraid about NI. We think we are cooperation. But we do not know why in some way we find NI's employees are afraid about us. We do not receive any replays from NI yet. So how NI thinks we do not know. If NI contacts us we will replay. 

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4 minutes ago, wuxingsoho said:

We do not only can develop cRIO but also Flex-RIO and single board RIO. It is just same technology inside. So we can run all of xilinx FPGAs. You may it in another way. LabVIEW FPGA is so cool but NI profuct is so expansive. I believe many do not have much money to buy a cRIO. Also people use cRIO to do research. No can use cRIO to deply in their products for number of thousands one year. So we do not think we are competition relationship with NI. In opposite we are cooperation relationship with NI. We can let more people use LabVIEW and LabVIEW FPGA. NI's customers is also not our target customers. 

This is our thought but how NI thinks we do not know. 

You don't need to defend yourself on some arbitrary forum. The relationship (or lack therof) between yourself and NI is between you and NI alone and it is up to NI whether they want to challenge or defend their IP.

Questioning a companies' integrity in public is highly unprofessional and you do not need to respond.

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On 2016/10/28 at 5:08 AM, rolfk said:

Definitely! NI licensed the Xilinx toolchain from Xilinx to be distributed as part of the FPGA toolkit and there will be certainly some limitations in the fine print that Xilinx requires NI to follow as part of that license deal. They do not want ANY customer to be able to rip out the toolchain from a LabVIEW FPGA installation to program ANY Xilinx FPGA hardware with and not having to buy the toolchain from Xilinx instead, which starts at $2995 for a node locked Vivado Design HL license, which I would assume to be similar to what NI bundles, except that NI also bundles the older version for use with older cRIO systems. So while NI certainly won't like such hardware offerings, as it hurts their cRIO sales to some extend, they may contractually be obligated to proceed on such attempts to circumvent the Xilinx/NI license deal, if they want to or not. 

We do not hurts cRIO sales in any aera. The one who pay for cRIO is not think about our products. Also we work for the one who cRIO do not work for. The Pocket-RIO is not like any products from NI. It is only $89 and free for sample now. So the Pocket-RIO is design for the one who do not know or used LabVIEW FPGA or the one who need deploy lots of FPGA in their products. 

So our products can help NI to expand the way LabVIEW to program FPGAs in customers. 

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On 12-11-2016 at 3:06 AM, wuxingsoho said:

We do not hurts cRIO sales in any aera. The one who pay for cRIO is not think about our products. Also we work for the one who cRIO do not work for. The Pocket-RIO is not like any products from NI. It is only $89 and free for sample now. So the Pocket-RIO is design for the one who do not know or used LabVIEW FPGA or the one who need deploy lots of FPGA in their products. 

So our products can help NI to expand the way LabVIEW to program FPGAs in customers. 

Well, to claim that it could not have any effect on cRIO sales is rather bold. But my point was not that you can not do that, it's part of any competition that your product could have a negative effect on the baseline of another product.

My point was that NI has a license deal with Xilinx which might contain wording about with what hardware the Xilinx tools that NI bundles with their LabVIEW FPGA Toolkit can be used and that might exclude non NI hardware. I'm not sure such limitations exist but it would not surprise me if it does and if it does, NI might be obligated to prevent use of the Xilinx tools included in the LabVIEW FPGA Toolkit with non NI hardware, both technically as well as legally, independent if they want to or not.

Edited by rolfk

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To generate and compile the Labview FPGA for other hardware with Xilinx FPGA, just create a XML file (*.xml) in <lvdir>\Targets\NI\FPGA\<hardware> and create a few files .ucf and .vhd in <lvdir>\Targets\NI\FPGA\<hardware>\FPGAFiles\ .

example: LV2015DIR\Targets\NI\FPGA\MT-P160\MTresource.xml , LV2015DIR\Targets\NI\FPGA\MT-P160\FPGAFiles\

The rest is the additives used for data transfer and programming.

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Yeah I suspect you'll hear from NI lawyers at some point.  I suspect what others are saying about Xilinx is correct, and NI is likely bound by a contractual agreement somewhere, to take action and prevent this type unauthorized use of the compiler.  On technical merit, good for you, it seems neat.  On the NI side they are the gatekeepers, and decide (to a large extent) where LabVIEW can go.  If it can go on an x86 processor it is because they allow it to.  If they don't want it to be on <$100 hardware (other than for home use like Pi) then they can probably put a stop to that as well.

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Out of curiosity I've looked for any restrictions that NI put on their FPGA module in licence agreements.

All Xilinx EULAs provided with NI software have following note:

Quote

Note: Xilinx tools distributed with the LabVIEW FPGA Module are to be used in conjunction with the installation and licensed use of the LabVIEW FPGA Module only.

Fair enough, you can't use any Xilinx tools without LabVIEW. But what's the "licensed use"? Is it limited to NI hardware? Interestingly, I can't find any restrictions for the usage of FPGA module in my LV2015 SP1 installation. There are very specific limitations in some documents "in the Internets" - like the one here, apparently from 2009:

Quote

Except as otherwise expressly permitted by NI in writing, if the SOFTWARE is the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module, you (a) may only use the intermediate code representations (e.g., VHDL code and netlists) or object or bit files generated by the SOFTWARE for the purpose of customization of the FPGA functionality of applicable NI hardware

https://www1.th-koeln.de/imperia/md/content/www_campusit/dienste/lizenzen_software/ni_software_license_agreement.pdf , point 4 - Restrictions

As I said, I can't find anything like this in newer documents. So either NI waived this restriction or it's still there but now it's abstract enough so you need an army of lawyers to decipher it (as a matter of fact, the "license" folder in NI software would need an army of lawyers anyway ;) ). 

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34 minutes ago, PiDi said:

Out of curiosity I've looked for any restrictions that NI put on their FPGA module in licence agreements.

All Xilinx EULAs provided with NI software have following note:

Fair enough, you can't use any Xilinx tools without LabVIEW. But what's the "licensed use"? Is it limited to NI hardware? Interestingly, I can't find any restrictions for the usage of FPGA module in my LV2015 SP1 installation. There are very specific limitations in some documents "in the Internets" - like the one here, apparently from 2009:

As I said, I can't find anything like this in newer documents. So either NI waived this restriction or it's still there but now it's abstract enough so you need an army of lawyers to decipher it (as a matter of fact, the "license" folder in NI software would need an army of lawyers anyway ;) ). 

I doubt NI would wave any IP restrictions. They are very good at IP protection. All of this would be a no issue if the work was done outside of the LabVIEW FPGA package, straight from the interpretation of the LabVIEW VI and linkage with the Vivado Webpack free Xilinx tool. Granted, this would be restrictive as to what types of Xilinx targets one would be able to deploy LabVIEW code to as the larger/beefier FPGA targets require the paid Xilinx tools. However, at least the Company would be free from the potential legal shenanigans that in itself could be prohibitive for the community adoption of any alternate HW targets.

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3B590E55@31C0BE2(12-07-11-40-15).png

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With the  PCIe interface, Intel CPU can communicate with FPGA for real-time data interaction.

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Replace NI C module ,Analog Output and Input Module:MT-E701

·         8CH +-10V 16bitSyncAOOptional Isolation

·         8CH +-10V 16bit 200 k/s/chSyncAI Optional Isolation

·         10CH5V High Speed Digital Input and Output

·         10CH3.3V High Speed Digital Input and Output

 

 

 

mt701.png

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...wait...I just noticed something.  Your product is called the Atom-RIO but uses a Celeron processor?  Isn't that a bit misleading?  Why not call it the Xeon-RIO or the I7Extreme-RIO?

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Nowadays, NI has released some compact and cheap cRIO such as the sbRIO-9651. When used with a 3rd part board as the PED-board, the resulting system is powerful and fully compatible with LabVIEW. No tricks and drivers are required. It can take advantage of Ethernet communication, instead of USB which is very weak in harsh environment.

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Per the LabVIEW FPGA Module installer 'readme,' the End-User License Agreements (EULAs) and other legal notices are installed in the following directories:

  • Notices are located in the <National Instruments>\_Legal Information and <National Instruments> directories.
  • EULAs are located in the <National Instruments>\Shared\MDF\Legal\license directory.

They can also be found in the licenses folder on the installation media.

 

I found the attached license agreement addendum installed there with excerpts below [emphasis mine]:

Quote

NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT PRODUCT ADDENDUM 

(NI LABVIEW FPGA MODULE, NI RIO, AND NI FLEXRIO ADAPTER MODULE SUPPORT)

This is a Specific Product Addendum to the National Instruments Software License Agreement which references Specific Product Addenda (the "License Agreement"), and modifies, with respect to the SOFTWARE identified above, the License Agreement. By downloading the SOFTWARE and/or clicking the applicable button to complete the installation process, you consent to the terms of, and agree to be bound by, the License Agreement, including this Product Addendum. If you do not wish to become a party to, and be bound by, the License Agreement, including this Product Addendum, do not install or use the SOFTWARE, and return the SOFTWARE in accordance with the Installation Notice of the License Agreement.

...

Quote

"2. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by NI in writing, if the SOFTWARE is the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module, toolkits for the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module, NI-RIO software or the NI FlexRIO Adapter Module Support software (collectively, the "NI FPGA Support Tools"), you (a) may only use the intermediate code representations (e.g., hardware description files) or object or bit files, in each case, generated by, or included with, the SOFTWARE for the purpose of customization of the FPGA functionality of applicable NI FPGA-enabled hardware, including CompactRIO, CompactDAQ, Single-Board RIO, NI R Series, NI FlexRIO, EtherCAT, the RIO IF Transceiver, and the Software-Defined Radio IF Transceiver hardware, or other hardware targets specifically designated by NI in writing (collectively, the "Hardware Supported by NI for Use with LabVIEW FPGA Module") and (b) may not modify or distribute any of the intermediate code representations (e.g., hardware description files) generated by the SOFTWARE." 

...

Quote

4.  If you distribute a bit file generated by the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module, in addition to complying with your other obligations relating to Authorized Applications set forth in the License Agreement, you must pass through to your end users either the License Agreement or your own license agreement that is substantially in accordance with the License Agreement and with at least the following provisions: (i) a disclaimer of implied warranties and consequential damages in favor of you and your licensors; (ii) a restricted rights provision substantially similar to the Section of the License Agreement entitled "U.S. Government Rights"; and (iii) restrictions against (a) reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling such bit file (except to the extent such foregoing restriction is expressly prohibited by applicable law); (b) sub-licensing, leasing, lending or renting such bit file; (c) distributing in part, modifying, or creating derivatives of such bit file; (d) using such bit file except for the purpose of customization of the FPGA functionality of Hardware Supported by NI for Use with LabVIEW FPGA Module; (e) taking any action that results in the bit file being subject to an Excluded License; and, (f) directly or indirectly, exporting, re-exporting, downloading, transmitting or shipping the bit file in violation of Section 21.D. of the License Agreement or otherwise in violation of any applicable laws or regulations, including those of the U.S., the European Union or the jurisdiction in which the bit file is used or downloaded.

 

I'm not a lawyer; I'm not giving legal advice.  My personal interpretation is that nearly any file generated by or included with the LabVIEW FPGA module or the NI-RIO driver is explicitly only allowed to be used in the customization of FPGAs on NI Hardware or other hardware targets designated by NI in writing. I'm posting this file because earlier someone posted that these restrictions appeared to be removed from the NI EULA.

 

Regards,

Spex

NI FlexRIO Adapter Module - English.rtf

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