Foxboro Evo System Features Multiprocessor Controller

  • November 22, 2013
  • Schneider Electric
  • Feature

By Bill Lydon, Editor

Foxboro has dramatically stepped up the power of their controller with the Foxboro Evo process automation system introduction.

Powerful Controller

The new CP 280 controller is built on a dual 32-bit RISC architecture System on a Chip (SOC) operating at 500 MHz, running the ARM Cortex A-9 Execution engine, with stored programs, using high-speed communication capability. The memory is 128 MB SDRAM, 128 MB flash memory and error detection (ECC providing single-bit error detection and correction as well as multiple-bit error detection).

The controller also has a LCD display with two lines of up to 32 characters, and can accommodate a variety of hazardous-area and high-density I/O components. The CP280 uses new high density I/O that has half the footprint of previous I/O making it more cost effective for green-field or retrofit projects. The CP 280 controller supports multithreaded execution, as defined by the user. For example, the controller could be configured to run ladder logic at 5 millisecond, distributed PIDs at 10 millisecond, and motor control at 25 millisecond. The controller also features a fast recorder function for capturing 1 millisecond digital and 10 millisecond analog samples. The controller allows copper or fiber connections, supports over 8,000 function blocks, and can execute 16,000 blocks of code per second. The unit supports multiple network protocol interfaces to support existing plant equipment and specialty hardware.

CP 280 Controller Supports Multiple Communications

Foxboro Evo System

The Foxboro Evo hardware and software is designed to make it easy to integrate other controllers and systems, thus eliminating the need for external gateways and simplifying integration with other hardware and systems. The Foxboro Evo process automation system has evolved directly from the Foxboro I/A Series and Triconex technology. The system extends this approach through a component object-based platform, which can undergo major upgrades without halting operations. For safety applications, the new controller and Invensys safety controllers share information through the system software. 

Foxboro Evo System Software & CP 280 Controller

Embedded Advanced Control

This platform has a significantly amount of computing power and with multiple cores that can be dedicated to executing functions. I spoke with Invensys experts about their current development of a 20x20x20 Multi-Variable controller function running in the CP 280. They have prototyped a function block for the matrix inversion and now the team needs to interface the Foxboro Connoisseur control suite software. The development team’s goal is to create a 20x20x20 matrix with 80 prediction coefficients. This is not available now but under development.

This powerful controller platform also empowers users to build sophisticated function blocks if they can mathematically document them. This is a future planned deliverable.

Thoughts & Observations

Software is important but controllers are the guts of automation systems. This new controller from Foxboro is a great example of the new breed of powerful controllers that leverages the latest technology.

This is an example of an important building block for new automation system architectures as described in a recent article: Simplifying Automation System Hierarchies

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