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16 Jan 2013

XMOS Fieldbus solutions bring multicore to industrial markets

XMOS has announced a range of solutions for designers of embedded industrial products with the launch of new industrial Fieldbus capabilities within its xCORE family of multicore microcontrollers.

The company is initially introducing Fieldbus xSOFTip soft peripherals and an industrial serial bus (IS-BUS) I/O card (sliceCARD) for its modular sliceKIT development system, enabling communication via RS485, CAN and LIN. Further industrial products will follow throughout 2013.

The new industrial solutions bring the benefits of the deterministic, ultra-low latency xCORE architecture to developers of industrial products ranging from simple sensors and actuators to protocol bridges, high-performance PLCs and motor controllers.

They build on the company’s expanding range of software-based xSOFTip products that already feature many industrial offerings including real-time Ethernet, USB, motor and motion control, plus human-machine interface (HMI) functions.

“For timing-critical electromechanical applications, particularly those in which robotic components interact with other real-world elements using sensors, you need a truly real-time solution,” observed Nikolai Ensslen of Synapticon. “XMOS technology provides incredibly low-latency, allowing us to implement multi-axis, multi-node robotic systems, combining control and inter-node communications functions within the xCORE device. For us, xCORE offers an unbeatable combination of cost, performance, flexibility and scalability.”

xCORE processors are ideally suited for use in industrial applications because they combine flexible and time-sensitive communications capabilities with the ability to implement latency-critical control functions.

These demanding applications need to close multiple asynchronous control loops in real time, and often require distributed intelligence and communication over real-time networks. xCORE delivers real-time control and communications in a single, deterministic, multicore architecture supported by an easy-to-use software design flow.

“The industrial market is characterized by a diversity of communication protocols, both standard and proprietary,” said Paul Neil, VP of Product Management at XMOS. “The xCORE multicore microcontrollers can be programmed to support these different requirements. So, whether you’re implementing a proprietary protocol in software, customizing one of the many Fieldbus standards, or implementing real-time extensions to a complex networking protocol like Ethernet, these microcontrollers can meet your requirements.”

Industrial protocol bridging provides a good example of some of the challenges faced by producers of industrial systems. Current solutions are not ‘real-time’; they are expensive and inefficient; and separate devices are needed to support the different protocol tasks. In these applications XMOS can replace multiple devices with a single xCORE multicore microcontroller. xSOFTip cores make the development task simple and the system can be developed, debugged and tested using an easy-to-use software-based design flow that is familiar to any programmer.

The new IS-BUS sliceCARD (priced at $40) is available from XMOS distributor partners starting February 2013. The Fieldbus xSOFTip blocks are available for download from www.xmos.com in the same timeframe. Click here to find out more and to be alerted when they are available for ordering.

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