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ARM-based processors support industrial connectivity

Posted: 01 Jul 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Texas Instruments? industrial connectivity? ARM? processor? bar code scanning?

Texas Instruments (TI) has released the Sitara AM437x processor family that the company said offers support for industrial protocols for both automation and industrial drives, and features dual camera for data terminals with bar code scanning. The processors enable real-time processing with available quad core programmable real-time units (PRU), allowing customers to further differentiate their designs, added TI.

The PRU offloads real-time processing from the ARM to manage deterministic tasks such as controlling motors and is robust enough to enable complex functions such as multiple industrial fieldbus protocols. The combination of the high performance ARM Cortex-A9 with the integration of peripherals and the PRUs allows customers to develop applications such as factory automation, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), home automation and IoT gateways, human machine interface and more.

With a powerful 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 core and other sub-systems, this SoC offers up to 40 per cent more system performance than the previous generation of Sitara processors, stated the company. In addition, next-generation quad core PRU-ICSS connectivity peripheral enables dual, simultaneous industrial protocols such as EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, Profibus, PROFINET-RT/IRT, POWERLINK, Sercos III, IEC61850, as well as motor feedback protocols such as EnDat or interfaces for sensors and actuators including BiSS. The on-chip quad core PRU co-processor achieves deterministic, real-time processing, direct access to I/Os and ultra-low-latency requirements. Additionally, a host of peripheral options addressing specific application needs are integrated such as dual port 1Gb Ethernet switch for networking; two parallel camera ports for applications such as bar code scanners; two independent, up to 867ksps, eight-channel ADCs for servo motor control, audio sampling and sensor monitoring; improved vector floating point unit for motor control and audio algorithms; and 9-channel Sinc3 filter sigma-delta ADC for higher precision current sensing, a trend in industrial drives, detailed TI.

The Sitara AM437x processors also contain up to 512KB of on-chip memory, a POWERVR SGX 3D graphics accelerator and a display subsystem that enables colour space conversion, overlays, resizing and more. Building upon this integration and giving customers the option of using flexible, discrete power designs, the Sitara AM437x processors include simplified power sequencing. Additionally, the companion power management IC TPS65218 offers high-efficiency DC/DC converters with integrated power path and added benefits such as a high-accuracy, integrated voltage supervisor and the lowest power mode, reducing power consumption by 70 per cent, TI noted. This is designed for systems requiring a low-capacity coin-cell battery to support greater than five-year shelf life. The availability of quad-SPI allows execute-in-place (XIP) so the system can run directly from low-cost NOR flash.

Development on the Sitara AM437x processors is simplified with a variety of software platforms, including a free stable mainline Linux software development kit (SDK), multiple hardware platforms and development tools to aid in debugging.

The general-purpose EVM for the Sitara AM437x processors makes it easy for customers to develop a broad variety of applications including HMI, portable data terminals, asset tracking, patient monitoring, test and measurement and more. The EVM also includes a 7in capacitive touch LCD screen and has a connector to plug in TI's WiLink 8 combo connectivity modules. The WiLink 8 modules include software drivers that are integrated and tested with the standard Linux SDK. Customers can purchase the industrial development kit (IDK) in Q3, which aids development of industrial automation applications, including PLCs and drives, while enabling simultaneous industrial Ethernet and motor feedback protocols.

The general purpose TMDXEVM437X is available now for $599 from The IDK will be available for $329. AM437x will begin sampling in July. The mainline Linux SDK is available and several members of TI's Developer Network, including Adeneo Embedded, QNX, Mentor Embedded, WindRiver, Green Hills, SmartEmbedded and Ittiam will offer software solutions later this year. In addition, hardware module suppliers will offer AM437x-based solutions later this year, including Bytes at Work, Gumstix, Calixto and Mistral Solutions.

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