10/27/2004 - As today’s data-acq hardware increases speeds into the megahertz range and with resolutions sometimes exceeding 16-bits, demanding multichannel applications that run for extended periods of time can collect massive amounts of data. Thus, users running such test applications are delighted to find reasonably-priced desktop machines with 64-bit processors on the market. They’re also delighted that they can find a stable OS that supports full 64-bit operation in the form of Linux. Getting data-acq hardware that could take advantage of all that power, however, has been a limiting factor, but UEI is now the first data-acq hardware supplier to supply a Linux driver that supports full 64-bit operation. The PowerDAQ for Linux driver is shipping now, at no charge. This is a significant announcement because the lack of stable drivers has been holding back broader adoption of this OS, especially for test and laboratory applications.
These drivers provide the same API as in the existing 32-bit drivers, except now users have access to far more memory. Specifically, current 32-bit hardware supports a 4G-byte virtual address space that the OS kernel must share with applications, library routines, and data. Many sophisticated test applications, especially those that stream large numbers of high-speed channels to disk, are starting to outgrow the 4G-byte limit. Further, as memory prices continue to fall, it is becoming cost-effective to build systems with memory that necessitates 64-bit addressing. The solution is to move to a 64-bit processor that implements a flat 64-bit programming model. Processors such as the AMD64 support 48 bits of virtual address in a 64-bit mode that allows applications to address as much as 256 terabytes of memory.
Now running under 64-bit Linux, the PowerDAQ for Linux drivers support all the functionality on all of UEI’s PowerDAQ cards for both the PCI and PXI buses. These cards fall into four categories:
Every PowerDAQ card comes with an onboard DSP that controls the operation of all I/O subsystems (analog I/O, digital I/O, counter/timers) independent of the activities of the host CPU. In addition, the DSP can run any and all subsystems simultaneously at their full-rated speed.
“It’s clear that desktop CPUs are migrating to 64 bits. This is the wave of the future, and our lab is getting on board early,” notes Eric Matlis, a post-doctorate research associate in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Dept at the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN), whose department uses UEI data-acq boards on 64-bit machines for wind-tunnel applications. “In setting up a test system, problems will almost always come up, but with Linux you can easily fix them yourself as opposed to Windows, which offers few options. Besides, Linux is much more stable. And besides getting lots more memory, we’ve seen our applications speed up, as well. In fact, by putting 64-bit systems on our test network, the entire chain of computers benefits from the added resources.”
Price and Availability
The PowerDAQ for Linux driver is part of the PowerDAQ Software Suite that ships with every PowerDAQ card at no charge. The driver is also available for downloading on the UEI website (www.ueidaq.com/downloads). For more information about this or any other UEI hardware and software products, users can go to www.ueidaq.com or call 781-821-2890.
About United Electronic Industries, Inc
Known as “The High-Performance Alternative,” UEI (Canton, MA, www.ueidaq.com) is a supplier of leading-edge PowerDAQ PCI- and PXI-based data acquisition cards, the PowerDNA Ethernet-based distributed data-acquisition and automation system, signal-conditioning accessories and software. In particular, it has emerged as a market leader in the field of hard realtime data acquisition on PCs through its support of realtime Linux implementations and commercial RTOSs. A proprietary protocol on the PowerDNA Cube gives Ethernet-based I/O systems true realtime performance, but the system also runs with conventional Ethernet protocols, as well. Among the firm’s major markets are sophisticated production test systems, process monitoring and control as well as research/development.
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