PL2™ File Format Enabling Ultrafast Large File Loading
June 27, 2013

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DALLAS, TX — (June 27, 2013) – Plexon Inc, the leader in advanced hardware and software solutions for neuroscience and behavioral research, boldly launches their new game-changing neural data file format referred to as PL2™. Compared to its predecessor, PLX files, the new PL2 format enables much faster read-times – 10, 100 or even 1000 times faster!

When continuous wideband data is being recorded at a 40KHz sample rate, the data rate for 16 bit samples is 288MB per hour per channel. This translates to 36.8 GB/hour for 128 channels and 73.7 GB/hour for 256 channels – not including other types of data or file system overhead. The file size can quickly become unwieldy. Even when not recording wideband data, the files can become quite large when the channel count is high making the loading of data for analysis a very long process. Plexon has taken the lead once again and advanced its original industry-standard recording format to develop a game-changing new file format that significantly improves the efficiency of the analysis process.

The new PL2 format is a significant advancement in data management and can be characterized by the following relative to its predecessor. PL2 files:

  • Are significantly faster in single channel read-time depending on file length, types of data, and number of channels. Individual channels can be loaded for analysis 100s or even 1000s of times faster.
  • Enable up to 50% faster block level reads, as in reading the file sequentially.
  • Are a more general format representing all existing PLX data plus more channels and additional types of data including system configuration and individual channel metadata.
  • Result in somewhat smaller file sizes.
  • Require OmniPlex Software v1.9.
  • Are optional – researchers have the choice to record using either the new PL2 format or continue using the original PLX format.
  • Are recorded in real time by the OmniPlex® Neural Data Acquisition System.
  • Can be created by converting from an existing PLX file using PlexUtil 4.0 (now available online) along with an upgrade code for an OmniPlex System or Multichannel Processor (MAP) Data Acquisition System license key available from Plexon at

According to researcher Nick Steinmetz, Stanford University, “For very large recordings I have made (32 channels, several hours duration, 40kHz sampling rate, as large as 50GB), reading data into MATLAB was very time consuming using the old PLX data format. By converting to the new PL2 format, these files can now be read extremely efficiently, enabling some analyses I couldn’t otherwise perform. Using PL2 has been a fantastic improvement!”

The newest versions of the industry’s standard processing and analysis tools – Offline Sorter v3.3 and NeuroExplorer v4.125 – now also support the PL2 file format. To complete the package, Plexon offers a PL2 software development kit (SDK) for MATLAB and C++ for interfacing to other analysis programs and languages.

The suite of PL2-compatible software (including OmniPlex 1.9, PlexUtil 4.0, Offline Sorter 3.3, NeuroExplorer 4.125 and new PL2 SDKs) are now available online and can be downloaded from the website’s Support section, Software Downloads area. Researchers can also access the PL2 File System Overview document for more information. With the appropriate version license key for the corresponding software program, these PL2-compatible releases are available free of charge. For more information, contact

About Plexon Inc
Plexon is a pioneer and leading innovator of custom, high performance data acquisition, behavior and analysis solutions specifically designed for scientific research. We collaborate with and supply thousands of customers including the most prestigious neuroscience laboratories around the globe driving new frontiers in areas including basic science, brain-machine interfaces (BMI), neurodegenerative diseases, addictive behaviors and neuroprosthetics. Plexon offers integrated solutions for in vivo neurophysiology, optogenetics, and behavioral research — backed by its industry-leading commitment to quality and customer support.