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NI targets smart grid with FPGA-based control systems

09 Oct 2012  | Vivek Nanda

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National Instruments has unvieled the NI Single-Board RIO general-purpose inverter controller (GPIC ) that, according to the company, offers a standard RIO architecture for smart, grid-tied power conversion systems. It features a comprehensive Labview system design toolchain that reduces the cost and risk of embedded system design, added the company.

The system provides a set of analogue and digital I/O and DSP cores embedded in the FPGA fabric to meet the specific control, I/O, performance and cost needs of most smart-grid power electronics applications including DC/AC, AC/DC, DC/DC and AC/AC converters for flexible AC transmission systems, renewable energy generation, energy storage and variable speed drive applications.

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Figure 1: The single-board GPIC with the supporting Labview tool chain. The FPGA enables embedded designers to meet application-specific control and I/O requirements.

The NI single-board RIO GPIC features prevalidated, deployment-ready embedded system and a graphical system design toolchain with high-fidelity power electronics circuit simulator for rapid development and verification of user-defined Labview FPGA control algorithms. In addition, it touts a 58-DSP-core hardware-parallel Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA that outperforms typical dual-core DSPs by a factor of 40x, 24x and 10x, with regards to performance per dollar, per chip and per watt, respectively, detailed NI.

The control system has an embedded 400MHz PowerPC processor with VxWorks real-time OS that supports smart-grid networking protocols DNP3, IEC 60870-5 and IEC 61850, onboard COMTRADE (IEEE 37.111) data logging, and standard three-phase IEC, EN and IEEE power quality analysis.

A variety of measurement and control modules to suit specific requirements. The Electric Power Suite is an add-on to the basic Labview for building specific applications.

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