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Industrial Ethernet data management solution guarantees reliable real-time performance

November 25, 2011 // Julien Happich

Industrial Ethernet data management solution guarantees reliable real-time performance

Innovasic Semiconductor's PriorityChannel is described as a new technology for device-level Ethernet, designed to ensure real-time Industrial Ethernet messages are always processed on-time, every time regardless of the amount or type of other network traffic. Factory automation systems are now being deployed with Industrial Ethernet connectivity instead of traditional serial fieldbuses.

Although Industrial Ethernet brings many advantages in terms of network management, compatibility and flexibility, it is well known that Ethernet is inherently non-deterministic. As the application of Industrial Ethernet grows, it is becoming apparent that conventional solutions have difficulty dealing with critical messages when network traffic increases, resulting in unpredictable packet delays, excessive latency, or even connection failure. In laboratory tests, several commercially available Industrial Ethernet devices were tested with a 2ms cycle time under varying network traffic conditions. Most devices failed to maintain the desired cycle time as the network traffic was increased and some lost their connection altogether. Devices based on PriorityChannel technology were able to respond well within 160µs of the desired cycle time, regardless of the amount or type of other network traffic. PriorityChannel technology is a combination of silicon and software that has been optimized for Industrial Ethernet applications. Silicon vendor Innovasic currently offers this technology for EtherNet/IP and Profinet Class B. Solutions are available as plug-in modules, design-in network interfaces, or fully customizable developer solutions.

A Rapid Interface Development (RapID) platform solution is available in several formats. The Universal Gateway is a DIL plug-in module uses a serial connection to a host CPU and can be adapted to convert any existing serial protocol to EtherNet/IP or Profinet (eg. convert Modbus RTU to Profinet). The Network Interface is a plug-in module including PHY and RJ45 connectors and either a serial or 16-bit parallel connection to the host. The Network Interface is also available as an embedded design with schematics, BOM and firmware that you can add into your own board. In both cases the Network Interface uses a common abstraction API that allows you to connect either Profinet or EtherNet/IP to the same host with no software changes needed on the host. Each of the above solutions includes all the necessary hardware, firmware and stacks to take care of the EtherNet/IP or Profinet protocol and there are no license fees or royalties with these products. To further minimize your development time, the identical schematic and hardware supports both EtherNet/IP and Profinet. The RapID platform is based around the Innovasic fido1100 communications processor chip which handles all of the network traffic, packet processing and stack protocols.

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