Xilinx, Inc. (www.xilinx.com) announced the release of the first market-specific Industrial Automation Targeted Design Platform with low-cost, low-power Spartan-6 field programmable gate arrays (“FPGAs”). The optimized Targeted Design Platform for industrial automation system design accelerates real-time Ethernet networks development enabling reliable communications in the industrial enterprise and high-speed connectivity to the factory floor.
Now, industrial equipment developers can easily integrate multiple custom processing algorithms and Ethernet protocols into automation systems and industrial network using one Spartan-6 FPGA as a reprogrammable, flexible and cost-effective alternative to application-specific integrated circuit (“ASIC”) or application-specific standard product (“ASSP”) implementations. The latest platform has a complete development environment made specifically for industrial applications such as network bridges or gateways, machine vision systems, programmable logic controllers (“PLC”), and various embedded control systems.
The platform offers smart design methodologies and next-generation programmable technologies delivered in the Spartan-6 FPGA’s Industrial Ethernet Kit. The Industrial Ethernet Kit, which is jointly developed with Avnet (www.avnet.com), is highly scalable and fully integrated with all the software and hardware needed in designing industrial communications protocols.
The Industrial Ethernet Kit includes the Avnet Spartan-6 LX150T FPGA industrial networking daughter card and development board based on an EtherCAT Targeted Reference Design, ISE Design Suite Embedded Edition software environment, 3rd-party evaluation EtherCAT core from Beckhoff, and the industry standard FPGA Mezzanine Card (“FMC”) specification two. The kit’s Future add-ons offer reference designs and additional daughter cards to enable faster market time for designing factory automation applications.
Industrial product developers can now leverage the low-power features of Spartan-6 FPGAs, dedicated DSP blocks and 32-bit MicroBlaze soft processor to create (with hardware-based processing) single-chip systems to accelerate extraordinary computational bandwidth and network performance to implement advanced algorithms. Power-optimized serial transceivers, industry-standard interfaces, and integrated memory controllers embedded in the Spartan-6 LX150T enable multiple or single industrial Ethernet protocol designs that support legacy network standards such as CAN providing a bridge to PCIe-based networks.
The EtherCAT Targeted Reference Design is either supplied in source or pre-compiled format. The design with the industrial networking daughter card and base board can be used out of the box to quickly install an EtherCAT slave device for PC-based automation systems. The EtherCAT protocol is used to evaluate data performance and characteristics with the Spartan-6 FPGA, and to process and send real-time data between EtherCAT slave and master devices modifying EtherCAT soft IP core’s required evaluation version to accommodate system requirements. The reference design also offers easy-to-use and streamlined environment for developers in addition to their differentiating value to the FPGA design.
With the Spartan-6 FPGA LX150T base board, the Spartan-6 FPGA Industrial Ethernet Kit leverages dual FMC connectors to simplify legacy networks and multiple Ethernet development. One of the FMC connectors is utilized to the industrial networking daughter card to be integrated with market-specific interfaces for legacy serial standards (“RS-232, RS-485”), dual CAN physical layer (“PHY”), and dual port 10/100 Ethernet (“IEEE1588 capable”). With custom modules, the second FMC connector is used to expand the system. This enables embedded software and hardware engineers to integrate, design, test and evaluate industrial Ethernet protocols in silicon sooner than is typically feasible with ASICs or ASSPs, and to simply update systems throughout production and product development with the latest proprietary algorithms and networking standards.