Renesas: EtherCAT dedicated communication SoC for remote I/O slave applications

Renesas Electronics Europe announced a low-cost EtherCAT dedicated communication system-on-chip that will help boost production efficiency in factories. The EC-1 SoC is intended for high-speed, high-precision control of slave applications that require higher CPU performance such as intelligent I/O modules equipped with EtherCAT communication functions. The certified remote I/O solution kit which is based on the EC-1 simplifies the adaption of EtherCAT by cutting down the development time for slave devices such as remote I/O by up to 60 percent.

The EtherCAT-enabled remote I/O solution kit features a robust remote I/O board, software, documentation, and circuit diagrams. It allows users to start developing an EtherCAT slave with significantly lower risk. Moreover, based on Renesas research, it reduces up to 60 percent of the development time. Developers can refer to the supplied circuit diagrams when designing applications in a configuration very close to that of the actual solution kit. Targeted at remote I/O applications, the board is designed to operate on the same 24-volt power supply typical of actual products. The sample software has been certified using a conformance test tool.

The new EC-1 enables transition to an EtherCAT support system by connecting to existing low speed serial communication devices to the serial interface. This enables users to devote their time on the development of the application without spending significant amount of man-hours to replace the communication protocol. In addition, the included sample software feature CiA402 drive profile for motor drive devices, as stipulated in IEC 61800-7-201 and IEC 61800-7-301, as well as ETG.5003.1 and ETG.5003.0002 device profiles for semiconductor manufacturing devices. This makes it possible to quickly construct internal control systems for industrial manufacturing devices using servo controllers, mass flow controllers, process controllers, and temperature controllers supplied by manufacturers of slave devices.

EC-1 employs the standard ARM Cortex-R4 processor with on-chip RAM memory and an EtherCAT Slave Controller. The Cortex-R4 is a highly deterministic processor for fast interrupt handling in real-time applications. It delivers sufficient processing power to deal with the increasing requirements of the application software. The integrated tightly-coupled memory with Error Correcting Code makes the overall system even more performant and deterministic. With these features EC-1 does not require external RAM or a dedicated EtherCAT chip. The connectivity has been verified with master devices from approximately ten manufacturers, making it easy to implement EtherCAT slave devices with a high level of compatibility.

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