Softing uses Altera FPGA for real-time Ethernet

  • September 14, 2007
  • Softing Inc.
  • News
NEWBURYPORT, MA - September 14, 2007 - The demand for automation devices supporting Real-Time Ethernet is growing steadily convincing more and more device vendors to adopt the necessary technology. One key factor for device manufacturers is the availability of an economical solution to integrate Modbus/TCP, PROFINET IO, and EtherNet/IP into their devices that rivals the cost-effectiveness of today’s fieldbus ASICs. Current FPGA solutions with integrated soft-core processors and IP cores combined with compact protocol stacks are a perfect fit to satisfy this requirement. Softing elected to support Altera’a Cyclone III FPGA series. The Cyclone III is the most recent generation of FPGAs that are manufactured using 65-nm low-power process technology to deliver low power consumption at a price that rivals that of ASICs. The Cyclone III has a density of up-to 120 K logic elements, 4 Mbits of memory and up-to 535 User-IO-Pins. The small form factor combined with the low power consumption identifies the Cyclone III as an ideal choice for device integration.Soft-Real-Time SolutionsPROFINET, EtherNet/IP, and Modbus/TCP are entirely executed within the integrated NIOS®II processor. All three protocols are based on standard TCP/IP. No additional hard-real-time requirements must be taken into consideration to achieve response times of < 1ms because all three protocols are based on standard TCP/IP.Uniform Device InterfaceSofting’s Simple Device Application Interface (SDAI) is an extremely efficient protocol abstraction layer that offers a single application interface for all three Ethernet protocols which helps to significantly speed-up device integration and time-to-market while at the same time simplifies support and maintenance. The device application can execute on an external CPU or run within the FPGA on a second integrated NIOS processor to achieve the lowest interface cost.Invest for the futureDevice manufactures can expect that additional Ethernet protocols will add further requirements to their product offer especially when it comes to performance (IRT) and flexibility (redundancy, daisy-chain). Today, Softing’s RT Ethernet stacks offer support for the integrated switch-core of the FPGAs and thus, enabling devices to operate in a daisy-chain topology. The switch functionality is entirely developed using VHDL. The advantages of this IP solution are:
  • significantly lower installation costs by reducing the number of required industrial infrastructure devices like switches
  • support of IEEE 1588 V1 and V2 to synchronize networked field devices
  • increased performance due to protocol optimization
  • additional redundancy management services and integrated device diagnosticsIf required, Softing’s competence center is ready to offer engineering services for the entire product development cycle. This includes the product requirements definition, the design, development, and testing of the product as well as customer focused support efforts. About Softing In industrial automation, Softing is a specialist for fieldbus technology and has established itself as a world-leading partner for networking automation systems and control solutions. Softing provides customers the key technology to connect devices, controls and systems with the leading communication technologies. In fieldbus technology, Softing is a world-class expert for FOUNDATION fieldbus, PROFIBUS, and CAN/CANopen/DeviceNet. The company’s wide range of expertise includes solutions for OPC, FDT, and Real-Time-Ethernet protocols such as, PROFINET IO, EtherNet/IP, or Modbus/TCP. Many of the products and services developed by Softing since the company was founded in 1979 have become reference standards throughout the world. In addition, Softing has established itself as a provider of sophisticated diagnostic tools for fieldbus systems. Learn More

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