Microstar Laboratories has released the DAPL 3000 operating system (OS), a software platform designed for data acquisition (DAQ) and control projects.
The company said the platform supports the xDAP data acquisition processor (DAP) series and will serve as the basis for device control and embedded processing in future data acquisition projects.
The DAPL 3000 system takes care of all of the hardware specifics, moving them out of complicated host OS environments and putting them close to the hardware for maximum efficiency.
On the host system, users simply specify the address of the DAP nodes to connect.
The DAPcell services establish links to access the user's data streams.
The USB 2.0 support in DAPL 3000 can push sustained data transfers of eight million 16-bit samples/sec to the PC host - a sustained 128 million bits/sec.
Microstar Laboratories said the DAPL 3000 system is more than just device control.
A reserve of capacity remains in the onboard processors after critical device control processing is done.
That extra capacity can be leveraged in many ways.
For example, suppose that a user measures hundreds of thermocouple channels to obtain a temperature profile.
Thermocouples are inherently slow and noisy devices.
The user will capture thousands of samples from each of them, not because he or she cares about every single sample but because he or she needs the statistical advantage of combined measurements to obtain accurate temperature information.
The user could elect to choke his or her data transfer channels with all of this data - only to average most of it away.
But if the user pre-processes data at the source, he or she needs only to transfer the information that is important to their needs.
The DAPL 3000 system provides about 100 pre-programmed processing tasks that can be applied to one channel or hundreds.
One line in the configuration creates one processing task.
One processing task might cover all processing requirements for all of the user's measurements.
Maybe the user's host processor is capable of covering mundane details of thermocouple linearisation and estimation, despite a resource-hungry OS.
But is it capable of computing power spectral density on 100 independent data channels at a sustained, real-time pace?
For serious number-crunching, the more processing capacity you have, the better.
Pushing signals through hardware, device drivers, OS layers and complicated application environments, and then reversing this sequence to get responses back to hardware, is a perilous process.
For consistent, fast, guaranteed response, you need to cut out the middleman layers and put real-time activity as close as possible to the hardware level.
The event-driven data systems in DAPL 3000 allow more predictable response to real-time events in general.
The DAPL 3000 system adds multiple priority scheduling levels to the task management scheme of DAPL 2000, so that high-priority processing can detect events and deliver timely responses, almost as if other number-crunching activities were not there.
One of the difficulties of data acquisition is that digitisers produce a fixed point number representation that has little relationship to real-world processes.
The characteristics of sensors, signal conditioning gains, and digital representations determine what the raw measurements mean.
While attempting to extract information, it is easy to lose significance because of integer range and bit-truncation effects.
What the user wants is probably not the raw digitiser numbers, but rather the numbers in engineering units reflecting the property he or she is trying to measure.
The DAPL system can be used to apply appropriate conversion, compensation, and scaling operations so that factors related to hardware components are already covered by the time data leaves the user's hardware system.
The user's application can then receive measurements as direct meaningful quantities.
To support this, the DAPL 3000 system has been rewritten to expand its support for higher-precision data types.
Although internally the DAPL 3000 system is a near-complete rewrite of the DAPL 2000 system, it retains a high degree of compatibility with applications developed for DAPL 2000.
Microstar Laboratories continues its policy of supporting hardware and applications beyond the limited lifecycle of most commodity data acquisition products.
Compiled custom command module binary codes should run exactly as they did in the DAPL environment, except for subtle internal timing differences.
With few exceptions, configurations scripts for DAPL 2000 applications will continue to work as before under DAPL 3000.
New commands with equivalent or better performance support almost all retired features.
PC host applications, which interface through DAPcell services, will require no changes.
Microstar Laboratories said the DAPL 3000 system for the embedded DAP environment extends in new directions, providing more raw-data transfer capacity, a processing command library for more flexible support of onboard pre-processing, and improved support for responsive real-time systems.
The system is currently available for the xDAP Data Acquisition Processor family and provides critical support for the very high USB data transfer rates.