Industrial Ethernet protocol to serve as communication platform for new embedded processors

Texas Instruments will implement EtherCAT technology for its ARM- and DSP+ARM-based embedded processors.


In conjunction with Hannover Fair, Texas Instruments (TI) has announced it is the first semiconductor company to license EtherCAT (Ethernet for Control Automation Technology) for its ARM- and DSP+ARM-based embedded processors.  This industrial Ethernet technology will be featured in TI's upcoming Sitara ARM microprocessors (MPUs) planned for the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2011 and in TI's C6-Integra DSP+ARM processors beginning in 2012.


TI says it has selected EtherCAT technology for a number of key reasons, including:


• Increases efficiency: EtherCAT technology is based on the principle of fast processing on the fly.  EtherCAT messages are passed from node to node and processed while they are passed, which improves speed and efficiency in industrial systems. Overall industrial application performance is also improved with shorter reaction times, enabling increased operational efficiency.


• Ease of use: EtherCAT uses the standard IEEE 802.3 frames and physical layer. No external switches or hubs are necessary because the EtherCAT slave controllers forward the frames automatically. Most devices embed two RJ-45 ports, which are commonly used for Ethernet connections. Auto-configuration of the EtherCAT technology is supported. No manual address setting is required and no network tuning is needed.


• Lowers costs: With the use of standard cabling and no external hubs or switches needed, this lowers the EtherCAT technology costs. There are also lower configuration costs with the auto-configuration support.


The company adds that this brings benefits to its embedded ARM-based solutions:


• Integration: System-on-chip solution based on TI's most advanced silicon technology, integrating the EtherCAT slave controller. This on-chip integration allows the user to be tightly coupled to the application processor which provides high throughput, low latency access, board space savings, and lower total costs. 


• Flexibility: The programmable real-time unit (PRU) allows for flexible implementation that can more easily adapt as industrial standards evolve over time.


"The EtherCAT Protocol technology sets new standards for the real-time performance and flexibility that are critical for TI's embedded ARM-based devices geared toward the industrial market,” said Ram Sathappan, industrial automation manager, TI. “With its popularity today in industrial drive and input/output applications, EtherCAT, is used to allow master and slave controllers to communicate with each other without a host computer in high-noise industrial environments. The TI approach to EtherCAT with the programmable real-time unit (PRU) on TI's Sitara ARM MPUs and C6-Integra DSP + ARM processors allows for flexible implementation that can more easily adapt as industrial standards evolve over time."


Martin Rostan, executive director, EtherCAT Technology Group, adds, "With TI's integration of an EtherCAT interface in several product lines, this turns EtherCAT into a mainstream technology beyond the automation world. This development will open entirely new markets for EtherCAT and help establish a strong position in a wide range of embedded applications, further accelerating the adoption of EtherCAT in the industrial market."




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Edited by Peter Welander,

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