Advantages of RIO Architecture

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) in Reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture provide several advantages for advanced control and monitoring systems.

Firstly, the FPGA can be used to augment the MPU with digital signal processing, advanced control algorithms, custom interfacing, timing, and triggering. Implementing these capabilities in the FPGA, provides more flexibility and maintainability when compared to ASICs or discrete digital designs.

Secondly, the parallel nature of FPGAs makes it possible for designers to scale their systems to large channel counts without negatively impacting performance.

Thirdly, communication between the FPGA and the MPU is typically through a high speed interface such as PCI or PCI Express. The MPU in the RIO architecture commonly runs a RTOS (real-time operating system) and has primary control of the embedded system.


ASIC - Application Specific Integrated Circuit
FPGA - Field Progammable Gate Array
I/O - Input/ Output
MPC - Micro Processor
MPU - Micro Controller
PCI - Peripheral Component Interconnect
RIO - Reconfigurable I/O
RTOS - Real Time Operating System


Take note

  • FPGAs are increasingly being used by designers of advanced control and monitoring systems.
  • Advanced control and monitoring systems also need specialised I/O systems and RIO is optimal for this application.
  • It is critical that we continue to evaluate our architecture, design tools and design processes to optimise our design team efficiency.

Published as:

Rise of reconfigurable I/O architecture for control and monitoring

By J Smith, National Instruments

Electricity+Control, June 2012 (pgs 14 – 16)