Data Acquisition (DAQ) and Control from Microstar Laboratories

DAPL 3000 Operating System Released

DAPL 3000 Supports xDAP Systems

For more information, contact

Each xDAP system runs with DAPL 3000 onboard.
dapl3000 icon Each xDAP system runs with DAPL 3000 onboard.

Bellevue, WA, May 20, 2010 -- For new data acquisition and control projects, Microstar Laboratories, Inc. has released new software: the DAPL 3000 Operating System. This software platform supports the newly introduced xDAP Data Acquisition Processor (DAP) series, and will serve as the basis for device control and embedded processing in future data acquisition products.

Like the DAPL 2000 system that preceded it, DAPL 3000 provides all of the device control functions necessary. 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 your host system, just specify the address of the Data Acquisition Processor nodes to connect. The DAPcell services establish links to access your data streams. The USB 2.0 support in DAPL 3000 can push sustained data transfers of 8 million 16-bit samples per second to the PC host – a sustained 128 million bits per second, about as much as current generations of PC systems can withstand.

But 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.

Leveraging Processor Capacity

Suppose that you measure hundreds of thermocouple channels to obtain a temperature profile. Thermocouples are inherently slow and noisy devices. You will capture thousands of samples from each of them, not because you care about every single sample, but because you need the statistical advantage of combined measurements to obtain accurate temperature information. You could elect to choke your data transfer channels with all of this data – just so you can average most of it away. But preprocess your data at the source and you need to transfer only the information that you care about.

The DAPL 3000 system provides about 100 pre-programmed processing tasks that you can apply to one channel or hundreds. One line in the configuration creates one processing task. One processing task might cover all of your processing requirements for all of your measurements.

Maybe your host processor is capable of covering mundane details of thermocouple linearization and estimation, despite a resource-hungry operating system. How about 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.

Close-to-Hardware, Time-Critical Control

Pushing signals through hardware, device drivers, operating system 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 new 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 simple task management scheme of DAPL 2000, so that your high-priority processing can detect events and deliver timely responses, almost as if other number crunching activities were not there.

Revised Command Library

One of the difficulties of data acquisition is that digitizers produce a fixed point number representation that has very 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 you really want is probably not the raw digitizer numbers, but rather the numbers in engineering units reflecting the property you are trying to measure.

Use the DAPL system to apply appropriate conversion, compensation, and scaling operations so that factors related to your hardware components are already covered by the time data leaves your hardware system. Your 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.

Retained Features and Compatibility

Though 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 long beyond the limited life cycle of most commodity data acquisition products.

  • Compiled custom command module binary codes should run exactly as they did in the DAPL 2000 environment, except for subtle internal timing differences.
  • With few exceptions, configuration 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.

Conclusion and Next Step

The new DAPL 3000 system, a successor to the DAPL 2000 system for the embedded Data Acquisition Processor environment, extends in new directions, providing more raw data transfer capacity, a new processing command library for more flexible support of onboard preprocessing, and improved support for responsive real-time systems. Though the degree of compatibility with existing applications remains very high, the DAPL 3000 system is a very new and different system inside. The system is currently available for the xDAP Data Acquisition Processor family and provides critical support for the very high USB data transfer rates. Additional information about the DAPL 3000 software system is available online, including the complete DAPL 3000 Manual in PDF format.

The DAPL 3000 system is available now and included with xDAP systems. Contact Microstar Laboratories, Inc. for more information.

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Editorial Overview:

The new DAPL 3000 system, a successor to the DAPL 2000 system for Data Acquisition device control and embedded processing, is available now with purchases of the new xDAP family of data acquisition processor systems. DAPL 3000 has new capacity for intensive data transfers and flexible onboard data preprocessing. Additional layers of prioritized scheduling greatly improve the consistency of real-time response, so that intensive data processing and responsive control processing can coexist. This is a rewritten system, not an incremental upgrade. Even so, back compatibility with existing software systems is very high, even to the compiled binary code level, and many existing applications will require little or no change to work as before with this new system. The DAPL 3000 system is available now, at no extra charge, with each xDAP system ordered. Contact Microstar Laboratories, Inc. for more information.

Note to the Editor:

Microstar Laboratories suggests this text as a caption for the available image:

Each xDAP system runs with DAPL 3000 onboard.

Microstar Laboratories, Inc. claims Microstar Laboratories, Data Acquisition Processor, DAP, xDAP, DAPL, DAPL 3000, DAPL 2000, DAPcell, DAPstudio, and DAPserver as trademarks. Microsoft has registered Microsoft and Windows as trademarks. Other organizations may claim – or may have registered as trademarks – other trade names, logos, and service marks mentioned in this document but not specifically listed here.

Microstar Laboratories makes it a practice to use an appropriate symbol at the first occurrence of a trademark or registered trademark name in a document, or to include trademark statements like this with the document.