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RT-LAB | User Guide: Introduction

About RT-LAB

RT-LAB™ is a distributed real-time platform that facilitates the design process for engineering systems by taking engineers from Simulink dynamic models to real-time simulations with hardware-in-the-loop, in a very short time, at a low cost.

  • Its scalability allows the developer to add compute-power where and when needed.
  • It is flexible enough to be applied to the most complex simulation and control problem, whether it is for real-time hardware-in-the-loop applications or for speeding up model execution, control, and test.

RT-LAB provides tools for running simulations of highly complex models on a network of distributed run-time targets, communicating via ultra-low-latency technologies, in order to achieve the required performance. In addition, RT-LAB's modular design enables the delivery of economical systems by supplying only the modules needed for the application in order to minimize computational requirements and meet customers' price targets--essential for high-volume embedded applications.

Key Features

Fully integrated with MATLAB/Simulink

All model preparation for RT-LAB is done with established dynamic system modeling environments, which allows the user to leverage experience in using these tools.

Specialized block set for distributed processing, inter-node communication, and signal I/O

RT-LAB provides tools for easy separation of the system model into subsystem models that can be executed on parallel target processors.

In this way, if you need to run a model in real-time that cannot be run on a single processor, RT-LAB provides a means of sharing the load over several processors.

Fully integrated with third-party modeling environments and user code libraries

RT-LAB supports models from Stateflow, StateMate, CarSim RT, GT-Power RT, AMESim, as well as code in C, C++, and FORTRAN.

Comprehensive API for developing your own online application

Using environments such as LabVIEW, C, C++, TestStand, Python and 3D virtual reality tools it is possible to create custom user and test automation interfaces.

Off-the-shelf technologies

RT-LAB is the first fully scalable simulation and control package that allows you to separate models for execution in parallel on a network of standard desktop PCs.

Driven by the demands of a mass market, users take advantage of rapid advancements in a wide range of readily available technologies at relatively low costs.

RT-LAB uses standard Ethernet as well as various PCI and PCIe expansion boards providing many I/O capabilities (digital, analog, communication protocols, etc.).

Extensive I/O card support: over 100 devices supported

RT-LAB integrates with Opal-RT's OP5000 series, OP7000 series, and OP4500 series of hardware interface devices for nanosecond precision timing and real-time performance.

RT-LAB also supports cards from other leading manufacturers such as National Instruments, Softing, SBS, ConnecTech, Max Technologies, Pickering, Spectracom, and others.

Shared Memory, UDP/IP, and Real-Time interprocessor communication

At execution time, RT-LAB provides seamless support for inter-processor communication, using any combination of UDP/IP, Shared Memory and real-time low-latency communication of data between the target processors.

Users can also interact with the simulation in real-time from the host station using TCP/IP. The real-time communication is ensured by Dolphin Interconnect, yet another off-the-shelf solution.

Integrated interface for signal and parameter visualization and control

With RT-LAB's visualization and control panel, you can dynamically select signals to trace. Modifications to any model signal or parameter can be done during the execution of a simulation.

RTOS: OPAL-RTLinux (x86-based) or Windows (for soft real-time)

RT-LAB runs on an open-source distribution of Linux optimized for real-time performances. 

For users that want to start their testing in soft real-time, RT-LAB also offers the possibility of using Windows as a target node operating system.

Optimized Hard-Real-Time Scheduler – high performance, low jitter

Within a time step, the system is doing more than computing the dynamic model. It also does administrative tasks, such as reading and writing I/O, updating the system clock, scheduling tasks, logging data, and handling communications. This restricts the amount of time available within a frame to compute the model values limiting the size of the model that can be computed on a single processor.

RT-LAB has reduced this overhead to a small percentage of raw hardware performance without losing functionality, thereby increasing the capacity to compute more complex models.

High-speed XHP Mode – Multirate XHP Mode – Software-Synchronized mode

RT-LAB XHP (eXtra High Performance) mode allows very fast computation of the real-time model on the target system. This has allowed our customers to simulate complex systems over distributed processors, with analog and digital I/O, at cycle times below 10 microseconds.

The XHP Mode of RT-LAB can slash scheduling overhead to less than a microsecond, letting you use the full power of your system for the computation of highly dynamic models in real-time which is a solution for the developers who have the constant challenge of achieving accurate, high fidelity responses for the real-time simulation of increasingly complex models.

Even when the signals in a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) system need only be updated in the hundreds of microseconds time frame, the model may need to be computed many times between each major time step in order to maintain numerical accuracy. The XHP Mode out-performs any other real-time system, and is particularly useful for modeling electrical systems, such as drive controls and power electronics.

OPAL-RT TECHNOLOGIES, Inc. | 1751, rue Richardson, bureau 1060 | Montréal, Québec Canada H3K 1G6 | | +1 514-935-2323