News | June 18, 1999

Microstar Laboratories PCI-Based Board Acquires Data at 3.2 Million Samples per Second

Microstar Laboratories (Bellevue, WA), maker of Data Acquisition Processor boards, announced a new PCI DAP board optimized for high-speed simultaneous sampling. The new DAP 4400a/446 has four onboard A/D converters that each can acquire 800k 14-bit resolution samples per second simultaneously, for an aggregate throughput of 3.2M samples per second. The board has 16MB of onboard memory for data buffers, and uses DMA bus-mastering to transfer data to the PC.

Sixteen onboard single-ended inputs, multiplexed in groups of four, share the 3.2 million samples per second throughput of the DAP 4400a. If an application requires sixteen simultaneous inputs, each acquiring data at 800k samples per second, then four synchronized DAP 4400a boards, installed in a single PC, can deliver the aggregate throughput of 12.8M samples per second shared by these sixteen simultaneous inputs.

Every model in the entire range of DAP boards has its own onboard intelligence implemented as DAPL, a multitasking real-time operating system optimized for high performance real-time data acquisition applications. The new DAP 4400a model, like other DAPs with onboard 32-bit processors, includes DAPL 2000 -- a 32-bit implementation of DAPL, shipped with each board. DAPL runs a data acquisition application on a DAP, free from any delays imposed by Windows or other programs running on the PC at the same time.

When real time means response in milliseconds, the message-driven, event-polling Windows user interface cannot work in real time. Even under Windows NT. So, in that case, neither can programs running under Windows. But many users require real-time performance from their systems -- and from the industry standard Windows-compatible interfaces to their systems: DASYLab, HP VEE, and LabVIEW. For these users, Data Acquisition Processor boards and driver software from Microstar Laboratories present a ready-made solution: users can stay with the software they prefer and they can have the real-time performance they want.

Measuring a real-time process requires computing power on demand. If some polled event has tied up CPU cycles on the PC at that time, then -- without onboard intelligence -- the system loses data and that corrupts measurements. Onboard intelligence deals up front with the critical aspects of any application: the parts that have to run in real time.

DAPL generates a Windows event when the DAP requires direction from the user interface software on the PC. This allows the PC running Windows to perform in its native, virtual event-driven mode. Meanwhile the DAP keeps monitoring real events in real time where it really matters.

In place of an industry standard interface, or one from Microstar Laboratories, a developer can write a custom user interface in any language that supports DLL calls. Microstar Laboratories also offers DAPtools OCX for applications written in Borland Delphi or Microsoft Visual Basic (32-bit).

The DAP 4400a/446 costs $3995, DAPL 2000 included, and is available now.

Microstar Laboratories George Atherton, 425-453-2345