Real-Time Ethernet Solutions With Open Standards

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IIoT edge computing platforms enable real-time Ethernet communication and act as the next step for accelerating smart factory scenarios

congatec’s latest IIoT edge computing platforms focus on supporting Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) to enable real-time Ethernet communication based on open standards. As TSN can even support Single Pair Ethernet, it can be used to substitute proprietary industrial Ethernet protocols as well as field buses.

Presented at the Smart Factory & Automation World Korea, the product highlights included featuring of Intel’s latest high-performance processors, including the formerly codenamed Tiger Lake H portfolio. These new COM Express Type 6 and COM-HPC Client Computer-on-Modules with 11th Gen Intel Core vPro, Intel Xeon W-11000E and Intel Celeron processors are predestined for the design of real-time Ethernet connected edge computers that utilise TSN as the vendor-independent open standard technology for demanding collaborative Industry 4.0 applications.

“Smart factories are increasingly using collaborative robotics as well as CNC or SMT machinery that interacts with autonomous logistics vehicles. This interaction needs determinism. Open standards for real-time communication such as TSN are the next step for accelerating such IIoT scenarios,” explains congatec Korea country manager Yoonsun Kim.

A great setup for system designs with TSN interaction was demonstrated live at the booth with congatec’s demo system for workload consolidation. Designed in cooperation with Intel and Real-Time Systems, this platform integrates three pre-configured virtual machines to demonstrate how various tasks can be executed on a single platform with full determinism – even if one virtual machine is booting. The demo targets collaborative systems and is preconfigured to include vision and AI for improved situational awareness.

For OEMs requiring edge server level computing power, congatec presented a live demo of its COM Express Type 7 Server-on-Modules based on the AMD EPYC 3000 Embedded processors. With up to 16 cores, these modules open even more options for workload consolidation by utilising virtual machines based on hypervisor technology from Real-Time Systems. As these processors can easily consume up to 100 watt TDP, congatec has also designed appropriate cooling solutions, making system integration of these high-end embedded platforms an easy task.

Another accelerator for server-grade TSN enabled embedded systems are the upcoming Computer-on-Modules of the COM-HPC server specification for which the PICMG has recently also launched a Platform Management Interface for remote system management, even out-of-band. The congatec demo showed what those modules will look like, with mechanical samples to inspire engineers to adopt this standard for their next-generation edge server appliances.

Last but not least, demonstrations were also held for the low power performance level. Flagships with TSN support include Intel Atom x6000E Series, Intel Celeron and Pentium N & J Series processors (code name “Elkhart Lake”) on the SMARC, Qseven, COM Express Compact and Mini Computer-on-Module standards, as well as Pico-ITX Single Board Computers (SBCs).

SMARC and Qseven platforms based on NXP i.MX 8 processor technologies rounded off the booth demonstrations.

congatec sets the focus on the latest NXP i.MX 8M Plus processor. With its machine and deep learning capabilities, the new ultra-low power SMARC and the upcoming Qseven modules enable to see and analyse their surroundings for situational awareness, visual inspection, identification, surveillance and tracking as well as gesture-based contactless machine operation and augmented reality. TSN support is also a given for all of these platforms.

OEMs in need of TSN expertise are encouraged to contact congatec for comprehensive support and answers to all questions that might arise during the implementation process. As one of the first embedded computing vendors with hands-on software implementation experience of TSN, both on the Ethernet controller and the CPU level, congatec has already gained broad expertise to leverage for customers’ projects.


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