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MCUs target industrial automation designs

Posted: 06 Dec 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:industrial automation? microprocessor? industrial communication protocol?

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has released what it touts as the industry's first ARM Cortex-A8 system solution with multiple integrated industrial communication protocols. According to the company, the Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors improve industrial automation designs and touts power dissipation levels below 7mW.

The products comes with two industrial automation hardware development tools, complete software and analog signal chain complement to provide a total industrial automation system solution. Using this solution, developers can get to market faster with industrial automation designs, including I/O devices, HMIs and PLCs, added the company.

The AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 MPUs 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 MPUs eliminates the need for an external ASIC or FPGA to reduce system complexity and save on BOM costs by more than 30 percent, claimed the company. The AM335x ARM MPUs also include other key, on-chip industrial peripheralsCAN, ADC, USB+PHY and two-port Gigabit Ethernet with IEEE1588to enable fast network connectivity and rapid data throughput, as well as connection to sensors, actuators and motor control.

Specifically targeted to enable sensors, actuators, motor drives, communications modules and gateways needing industrial slave communications, the AM3356 and AM3357 ARM MPUs offer a low-performance 275MHz solution, said TI. These two devices do not require an external memory or an OS, making the system solution simple and compact.

The devices can also offer of up to 720MHz. The AM3356 and AM3357 ARM MPUs are designed 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.

The ARM microprocessors tout an on-chip 3D graphics accelerator that, 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 MPUs offer lower cost options.

Accompanying the AM335x ARM MPUs are two industrial hardware development tools to enable customers to incorporate industrial communication standards in their industrial automation designs. The AM3359 industrial development kit (IDK) enables customers to evaluate all popular industrial communications and motor control applications. It has many different evaluation features such as 512MB of DDR2 memory, dual motor drivers, digital I/O, a C2000 Piccolo microcontroller with integrated analog to digital converters, a Stellaris ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller, USB, Ethernet, SPI, I2C and much more. The AM3359 IDK is available for $895. The AM3359 industrial communications engine (ICE) is a pocket-sized, cost-optimized and form-factor optimized hardware tool for I/O devices and sensors needing to add industrial communications quickly and easily. The AM3359 ICE is available for $99.

Designers can also use the AM335x evaluation module for $995 to begin development.

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