A PCI/iRMX-based front-end system is being designed to serve as data acquisition (DAQ) subsystem for the HT-7U superconducting tokamak. The diagnostic instruments are connected to four analog-to-digital converter (ADC) boards that are directly plugged into the peripheral component interconnect (PCI) bus of a personal computer (PC) running the iRMX real-time operating system. Each ADC board has eight channels. The sampling rate of each channel can be up to 125 K samples per second. The acquired data are directly transferred from the ADC board into the memory of the PC, and then transferred to servers through the network. As a testbed, one PCI/iRMX subsystem has been built and has acquired data from the existing HT-7 tokamak. The DAQ can easily support a wide range of pulse lengths, even matching extremely long pulse and steady-state operation. This paper describes the system design and performance evaluation in detail.