Isolated interface development environment for communication networks

May 10, 2012 // By Julien Happich
Analog Devices introduced the ezLINX iCoupler isolated interface development environment, a plug-and-play platform that significantly reduces development time by enabling the evaluation of eight physical layer, digitally-isolated communication standards simultaneously (USB, RS-422, RS-485, RS-232, CAN, 2 x SPI, I²C, and LVDS).

The tool was developed to assist embedded designers and system architects in designing and evaluating isolated communication interfaces using ADI's isolated interface transceivers with integrated iCoupler and isoPower digital isolation technology. The ezLINX iCoupler isolated interface development environment also integrates an additional expansion port for added functionality and scalability. The isolated interface development environment is designed for engineers working in industrial automation, energy delivery, medical systems and other applications who need to better evaluate system-level tradeoffs in critical, isolated communications networks.

Designers and system architects can quickly benefit from the easy-to-access, open-source hardware and software on the board, which is based on ADI’s proven ADSP-BF548 Blackfin processor core running a uCLinux kernel. The ezLINX environment also includes on-board sample application software, which allows for direct monitoring of the bus traffic and helps designers make a quick “box-to-bench” transition.

The iCoupler digital isolator technology is based on chip-scale transformers, rather than on the LEDs and photodiodes found in optocouplers. Transformers support higher data rates, consume less power, and are more stable over life compared to LEDs and photodiodes. By fabricating the transformers directly on-chip using wafer-level processing, iCoupler digital isolation channels can be integrated with each other and other semiconductor functions at low cost. iCoupler digital isolator transformers are planar structures formed from CMOS and gold metal layers. A high-breakdown thick polyimide layer underneath the gold layer insulates the top transformer coil from the bottom coil, resulting in the most reliable and highest level of digital isolation available. CMOS circuits connected to the top coil and bottom coil provide the interface between each transformer and its external signals.

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