National Instruments Introduces Digital Hardware With Xilinx FPGA Technology for Hands-On Learning

Project Lead The Way Curriculum Adopts New Digital Logic Add-On Board for NI ELVIS II+ to Train Thousands of Students in FPGA Programming

AUSTIN, Texas, May 19, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- National Instruments (NASDAQ: NATI) today introduced a digital learning device that gives high school, university and vocational students hands-on experience with digital logic and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology. The NI Digital Electronics FPGA Board, which integrates with the NI Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite (NI ELVIS) II and NI ELVIS II+ educational design and prototyping platforms, combines analog and digital design instruction into one affordable, easy-to-use platform. When combined with NI ELVIS, this system eliminates the need for multiple sets of instrumentation to teach analog and digital electronics concepts, thus saving money and space for educational institutions. The new board is a result of the NI collaboration with Xilinx, the world's largest supplier of programmable logic devices and inventor of FPGA technology, and already has been slated for adoption by Project Lead The Way (PLTW), one of the nation's leading providers of pre-engineering and science curricula.

"We are excited to collaborate with NI on this project because this board can be used simultaneously in high schools and in universities," said Patrick Lysaght, senior director of the Xilinx University Program at Xilinx. "Students can learn everything from the basics of electronics all the way to advanced FPGA design with this one affordable board that combines digital logic and circuit design in one unified environment."

The FPGA-based hardware is designed to be programmed with both the NI LabVIEW graphical programming environment and Xilinx ISE tools. With its adoption by PLTW, the FPGA board will be incorporated into U.S. high school technology curricula, and thousands of students will gain experience that correlates directly to real-world industrial and scientific applications of FPGA programming. The board's widespread adoption, ease of use and cost-effectiveness make it ideal for engineering education.

"The new logic board based on NI ELVIS will change the way students learn digital logic design at the high school level," said Tom White, director of technology at PLTW. "More than 500 schools use our materials, and we're thrilled that, with this new product, the many students who learn lower-level introduction to logic now can make quick, natural progress to high-level languages like LabVIEW, which makes learning fun."

The centerpiece of the NI Digital Electronics FPGA Board is a Xilinx Spartan-3E FPGA, which can be programmed using either NI LabVIEW or the Xilinx ISE webPACK, a free, downloadable software toolkit. Through the NI Developer Zone, educators can view related tutorials and download free curricula written to use with both LabVIEW and Verilog.

Because of its integration with NI ELVIS II and the new NI ELVIS II+ platform, the system provides a full spectrum of instruments with which students can gain experience on building real-world test benches that involve instrumentation. The NI ELVIS platform includes 12 instruments, including a function generator, digital multimeter (DMM) and a 100 MS/s oscilloscope on the newly introduced NI ELVIS II+. Students using the NI Digital Electronics FPGA Board can learn circuit concepts by taking advantage of the NI Multisim circuit design and SPICE simulation platform for SPICE simulation and the NI Multisim Circuit Design Community, an online resource for collaboration and discussion of circuit design topics.

Readers can view a webcast about the NI Digital Electronics FPGA Board at

About National Instruments

National Instruments ( is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 30,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 15 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 5,000 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 10 years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. Readers can obtain investment information from the company's investor relations department by calling (512) 683-5090, e-mailing Email Contact or visiting

LabVIEW, Multisim, National Instruments, NI and are trademarks of National Instruments. Other product and company names listed are trademarks or trade names of their respective companies.

Editor Contact: Hilary Marchbanks, (512) 683-5937

Reader Contact: Ernest Martinez, (800) 258-7022

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