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Computer automation of materials testing is becoming increasingly common in research laboratories and industrial quality control facilities. Until recently, computer architectures of the single processor variety have dominated the industry and their cost has limited the automation of general laboratory instruments. With the emergence of low cost microprocessor technology, it is now practical to design systems with several interconnected processing elements performing independent tasks in parallel. this paper presents the design techniques and hardware aspects of a distributed processing computer system for the automation of materials testing instruments. The advantages accrued by the use of multiple processing elements are discussed. This approach relieves the central processor from a number of routine tasks, thereby allowing the computer to execute more powerful software. The design of an intelligent interprocessor communications module and its utilization in a distributed computer system is also described.
hardware, laboratory instruments, automation, computer systems, processing overheads, real-time control, microprocessors, distributed processing, parallel processing, dual-port memory, interprocessor communication, analog-to-digital conversion, digital-to-analog conversion, computers, data acquisition
Design engineer, Instron Corp., Canton, Mass.