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Microprocessors with integrated industrial communication protocols accelerate industrial automation designs

November 23, 2011 // Paul Buckley

Microprocessors with integrated industrial communication protocols accelerate industrial automation designs

Texas Instruments Incorporated is now offering what the company claims is the first ARM Cortex -A8 system solution with multiple integrated industrial communication protocols to help developers accelerate their industrial automation designs.


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The Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors deliver power dissipation levels below 7 mW, along with two industrial automation hardware development tools, complete software and analog signal chain complement to provide a total industrial automation system solution.

Using the solution, developers can get to market faster with industrial automation designs , including input/output (I/O) devices, human machine interfaces (HMIs) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

Suitable for industrial automation designs, the AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors include a programmable real-time unit (PRU) on-chip interface to enable real-time industrial communications capability (master and slave) to support popular protocols, such as EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, PROFIBUS, PROFINET , POWERLINK and SERCOS III. This unique PRU + ARM architecture in the AM335x ARM microprocessors eliminates the need for an external ASIC or FPGA to reduce system complexity and save on bill of materials (BOM) costs by more than 30 percent.

The AM335x ARM microprocessors also include other key, on-chip industrial peripherals - CAN, ADC, USB + PHY and two-port Gigabit Ethernet with IEEE1588 - to enable fast network connectivity and rapid data throughput, as well as connection to sensors, actuators and motor control.

Designers can take advantage of the pin-to-pin and software compatibility of the AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors and design several end equipments with the devices that best fit their industrial automation need, such as:

Drives and I/O-level devices: Specifically targeted to enable sensors, actuators, motor drives, communications modules and gateways needing industrial slave communications, the AM3356 and AM3357 ARM microprocessors offer a low-performance 275 MHz solution. These two devices do not require an external memory or an operating system making the system solution simple and compact.

Industrial PLC applications: Offering high performance of up to 720 MHz, the AM3356 and AM3357 ARM microprocessors are well suited for high-performance PLC applications that need to control various I/O devices in an automation system such as electric motors, pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders, magnetic relays solenoids and more.

HMI products: Ideal for designing HMI products, the AM3354 , AM3358 and AM3359 ARM microprocessors offer an on-chip 3D graphics accelerator, which combined with the integrated touch screen controller, enables rich and intuitive graphical user touch screen interfaces. For HMI applications not requiring integrated industrial communications, the AM3354 and AM3352 and ARM microprocessors offer lower cost options.

Accompanying the AM335x ARM microprocessors are two industrial hardware development tools to enable customers to easily incorporate industrial communication standards in their industrial automation designs:

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