EtherCAT dedicated comms SoC for remote I/O slave applications

September 29, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Industrial automation designers can shorten EtherCAT interface development time by approximately 60%, says Renesas, introducing its EC-1 Remote I/O EtherCAT-dedicated communication system-on-chip (SoC).

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 adoption of EtherCAT by cutting down the development time for slave devices such as remote I/O.


The EC-1 builds on the R-IN32M3 Series of system-on-chips (SoCs) for multiprotocol communication as well as the RZ/T1 Group of highly deterministic microprocessors (MPUs). It is a pure EtherCAT communications device for more demanding I/O modules.


A certified remote I/O solution kit cuts development time; 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. Targeted at remote I/O applications, the board is designed to operate on the 24V power supply typical of actual products.

Simplifying the transition from low speed serial communication to EtherCAT, the EC-1 connects existing low speed serial communication devices to the serial interface. The included sample software feature CiA402 drive profile for motor drive 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 (ESC). The Cortex-R4 is a highly deterministic processor for fast interrupt handling in real-time applications. The integrated tightly-coupled memory with Error Correcting Code (ECC) makes the overall system even more performant and deterministic. With these features EC-1 does not require external RAM or a dedicated EtherCAT chip.