PACSystems 5th anniversary; development software free download

Benefits of PACs seen in hardware/software from GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms.


March 2008 marks the birthday of PACSystems, the programmable automation controller (PAC) from

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

, a unit of GE Enterprise Solutions. Five years ago in Chicago, the company launched its PACSystems line, which is built on open standards with a portable control engine, a single development tool, and a universal engineering development environment.

“Back then, PACSystems was considered revolutionary,” said Bill Estep, vice president of GE Fanuc’s Control Systems Business. “It represented a revolutionary change in the control industry, one that enabled control convergence rather than mere integration of disparate parts and pieces.” With one engine, coupled with a single development tool, users could take advantage of a powerful engineering environment for multiple applications.

“We’ve had a very successful five years with this product family and we keep improving it year after year,” said Bill Black, GE Fanuc Controllers product manager. “The PACSystems have evolved into unbelievably fast controllers. The RX3i’s CPU320 has an Intel M Class 1Ghz processor. The Control Memory Xchange is shared memory on a wire at 2.12 gigabaud. The system boasts transfer rates of 43 MB per second to 174 MB per second. And the High Speed Counter modules provide direct processing of rapid pulse signals up to 15 MHz for industrial control applications.”

“The RX7i’s super duty M class 1.8 GHz process has world-class speed,” added Black. “The VME64 backplane handles huge amounts of data– up to 14 mb per second. We’ve got a strong base to move forward and we’re not stopping. Our PACSystems have helped so many customers with their automation needs over the past five years and we are not even close to ending this revolution. Our upcoming technologies and our experiencewill be key to helping customers far into the future.”

A little history
Five years ago the GE Fanuc PACSystems family “addressed major engineering and business issues such as high productivity and communications openness,” said Estep. “This flexible technology has helped users boost the overall performance of their automation systems, reduce engineering costs, and significantly decrease concerns regarding short- and long-term migration and platform longevity.”

Since 2003, GE Fanuc has added innovations to the PACSystems family, introducing two platforms–PACSystems RX3i and RX7i. By combining new technology with existing hardware systems, PACSystems has provided seamless migration for users to upgrade control platforms.

PACSystems RX7i addresses mid-to high-end applications, with large memory and bandwidth and distributed I/O to handle major system requirements. The affordable PACSystems RX3i is easy to integrate and provides freedom in application portability across multiple platforms.

ARC’s Craig Resnick, who coined the term PAC, said, “Manufacturers and OEMs make their controller selections based on factors which lead to the lowest total cost of ownership such as adherence to open industry standards, multi-discipline control functionality, and ease of integration. Manufacturers expect secure, reliable interoperability between their automation products and the rest of their enterprise. However, the tightest interoperability solution exists when automation comes from a single product versus multiple products, with a single programming and engineering tool with common tagging and a single database.”

“This has led to the rapid growth of the PAC multidisciplined controller and the success of GE Fanuc’s PACSystems over the past five years. Demand for PACs is projected to strengthen even further across all discrete, hybrid, and process industries,” Resnick continued, “as manufacturers and OEMs will increasingly specify and require PAC functionality for an ever growing number of applications.”

AXISlite software
On the software front, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms announced a trial version of AXIS, a powerful Advanced Multiprocessor Integrated Software development environment for the company’s VME, VXS and VPX hardware.

AXIS “responds to the complexity and sophistication of leading multiprocessor and digital signal processing applications by freeing developers from the complexities of rapidly evolving hardware architectures,” according to the company. AXIS is independent of hardware and the real-time operating system and based on industry standards.

Prospective customers can evaluate AXIS with a free download of AXISLite, a free, reduced-functionality version of the software similar to AXISView (a component of the AXIS Suite).

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

— Edited Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering
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