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Cortex-A8 MPUs target industrial automation

Posted: 02 Dec 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Cortex A8  microprocessor  industrial communication protocols 

Texas Instruments Inc. offers what is touted as the industry's first ARM Cortex-A8 system solution with multiple integrated industrial communication protocols for accelerated industrial automation designs.

The Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors, launched in October, deliver power dissipation levels below 7mW, along with two industrial automation hardware development tools, complete software and analogue signal chain complement to provide a total industrial automation system solution for designs such as input/output (I/O) devices, human machine interfaces (HMIs) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

 AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessor

AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors accelerate industrial automation designs.

The AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors 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 PRU + ARM architecture in the AM335x ARM microprocessors eliminates the need for an external ASIC or FPGA to reduce system complexity and is said to save on bill of materials (BOM) costs by more than 30 per cent. The AM335x ARM microprocessors also include other key, on-chip industrial peripherals—CAN, ADC, USB + PHY and two-port Gigabit Ethernet with IEEE1588—to enable fast network connectivity and rapid data throughput, as well as connection to sensors, actuators and motor control.

Designers can take advantage of the pin-to-pin and software compatibility of the AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors and design several end equipments with the devices that best fit their industrial automation need, such as:

 • Drives and I/O-level devices: Specifically targeted to enable sensors, actuators, motor drives, communications modules and gateways needing industrial slave communications, the AM3356 and AM3357 ARM microprocessors offer a low-performance 275MHz solution. These two devices do not require an external memory or an operating system making the system solution simple and compact.

 • Industrial PLC applications: Offering high performance of up to 720MHz, the AM3356 and AM3357 ARM microprocessors are well suited 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.

 • HMI products: Ideal for designing HMI products, the AM3354, AM3358 and AM3359 ARM microprocessors offer an on-chip 3D graphics accelerator, which 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 microprocessors offer lower cost options.

Industrial hardware development tools
Accompanying the AM335x ARM microprocessors are two industrial hardware development tools to enable customers to easily incorporate industrial communication standards in their industrial automation designs:

1. AM3359 Industrial development kit (IDK)from TI is an extensive development tool enabling customers to evaluate all popular industrial communications and motor control applications. The AM3359 IDK has many different evaluation features such as 512MB of DDR2 memory, dual motor drivers, digital I/O, a C2000 Piccolo microcontroller with integrated analogue to digital converters, a Stellaris ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller, USB, Ethernet, SPI, I2C and much more. The AM3359 IDK is Rs.40,000 ($895) and available for order today.

2. AM3359 Industrial communications engine (ICE) from TI is a pocket-sized, cost-optimised and form-factor optimised hardware tool for I/O devices and sensors needing to add industrial communications quickly and easily. The AM3359 ICE is Rs.4,439.46 ($99) and available for order today.

Designers can also utilise the AM335x evaluation module for Rs.45,000 ($995) to begin development. Further easing development is a software development kit (SDK) with free, production-ready, certified software for industrial automation, supporting Linux, Android and Windows Embedded Compact 7 for high-end applications. For low-end applications, the SDK contains the ultra-compact, real-time SYS/BIOS operating system. The SDK also includes support for popular industrial communications protocols, industrial automation design demos, applications notes and videos.

TI offers the ability to complete an entire system design with TI analogue ICs, including industrial Ethernet and isolated CAN transceivers, motor drivers, temperature sensors and power management devices, plus wireless connectivity options to complement the Sitara AM335x ARM microprocessors.

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