Xilinx speeds design and lowers costs for industrial networking and motor control systems

by Clive Maxfield , TechOnline India - November 24, 2011

It has announced new Ethernet protocol support and motor control building blocks for its Industrial Targeted Design Platform

Well, there seems to be a lot of interesting stuff going on at the SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2011 electronic automation exhibition, which is taking place in Nuremburg, Germany, as I pen these words.

The guys and gals at Xilinx certainly seem to be having a jolly good time. For example, they just announced new Ethernet protocol support and motor control building blocks for their Industrial Targeted Design Platforms, including new EtherCAT, Ethernet POWERLINK, PROFINET and SERCOS III interconnect reference designs, as well as new IP cores for building intelligent motor control systems and a new motor control development kit from Avnet Electronics Marketing.

The folks at Xilinx say that Attendees of SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2011 can visit Booth 6-160 to see how Xilinx Industrial Targeted Design Platforms accelerate design cycles and reduce bill-of-materials for a broad range of industrial systems.

Editor’s Note: See also the associated design article Using FPGAs to solve challenges in industrial applications

“System builders face a number of real-time performance and integration challenges as factory ecosystems increasingly become more integrated workplaces that require interfaces across a wide-range of applications,” said Harry Raftopoulos, Director of Xilinx’s Industrial Business Segment. “Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGAs have the processing horsepower and networking capabilities to be deployed throughout this environment for anything from multiplexing several algorithms to achieving optimum motor control efficiency ratios, to driving the backbone of a network so factory floors can move to Ethernet cables.”

Designers can use any of the new real-time Ethernet reference designs along with the Avnet Spartan-6 FPGA Industrial Ethernet Kit to implement EtherCAT, Ethernet POWERLINK, PROFINET and/or SERCOS III networking protocols in their development of Spartan-6 FPGA-based automation modules. Spartan-6 FPGAs enable a high degree of integrated connectivity in a single device and afford easy integration of third-party IP for industrial networks, legacy buses, as well as the Ethernet-based protocols. The kit delivers a comprehensive design environment including tools and documentation for rapid prototyping and development of leading edge industrial applications in connectivity, motor control, and embedded processing.

“Both the Industrial Ethernet Kit and the Motor Control Kit were designed to help engineers take advantage of an FPGA’s ability to meet critical system timing and performance requirements,” said Jim Beneke, Vice President, Global Technical Marketing at Avnet Electronics Marketing. “With these development kits, proven reference designs, and Avnet’s global support network of FAEs, designers will be able to quickly evaluate and experiment with the unique capabilities that the Spartan-6 FPGAs bring to industrial networking and motor control.”

Building intelligent motor control systems

The Avnet Spartan-6 FPGA Motor Control Kit supports new IP cores from Xilinx and FMC (FPGA mezzanine card) standard modules from QDESYS for applying high precision FOC (Field Oriented Control) algorithms with extreme low noise modulation such as RPFM or SVM. With reference designs included in the kit, the IP provides designers with a complete proven design that can reduce loop times by 10x.

As regulations require higher efficiency in motor drives systems, motor control solutions built on Spartan-6 FPGAs can implement algorithms directly in hardware while the soft-core MicroBlaze processor manages high level functions. The on-chip DSP blocks and FPGA fabric processes system critical information and compute intensive functions that enable motor drives with enhanced performance but at a reduced cost.

“Prodrive has designed in Spartan-6 FPGAs for both networking and industrial control applications with great success,” said Pieter Janssen, Managing Director of Prodrive. “We’re already looking at how we will be able to take these designs and migrate them to Xilinx’s 7 Series and Zynq EPP product families to improve and add functionalities for our next generation solutions.”

Because the Spartan-6 FPGA architecture share common architectural characteristics with the 28nm Artix-7 FPGA and Zynq-7000 Extensible Processing Platform families, IP developed and tested today on Spartan-6 devices can be transitioned and used to further integrate future systems. For example, the Agile Mixed Signal (AMS) Analog-to-Digital Converter (XADC) block featured in all Xilinx’s 28nm 7 series devices is optimal for replacing a wide range of discrete analog circuits responsible for system-level “housekeeping” functions. With 1Msps of performance and 2 ADCs, the XADC block converts analog readings of bus voltage and currents into digital form to be processed by the FPGA, thus reducing another component in the overall bill-of-materials.

“Offloading components such as a system processor using an FPGA can prove critical for applications that require real-time control, or can simply be used to reduce the overall system cost,” said Diego Quagreda, CEO of QDESYS. “In many situations, combining an autonomous monitoring solution with a main processor can be more cost effective than scaling up to a higher performance system process.”

In addition to dropping by the SPS Drives booth, designers can learn more by visiting the Xilinx Industrial Applications page and downloading the new White Paper on using FPGAs to design and ship industrial systems. Customers can also contact their local Xilinx sales representative to request a demonstration of Xilinx’s platforms for industrial networking and motor control applications.

Availability

The Avnet Spartan-6 FPGA Industrial Ethernet Kit is available today from Avnet, along with the reference designs for EtherCAT, Ethernet POWERLINK, PROFINET, and SERCOS III - which can be found on Avnet’s Design Resource Center. The motor control IP is available for download today from QDESYS. The Spartan-6 FPGA Motor Control Development Kit from Avnet will be available in Q1 2012.

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