Reference design for industrial remote I/O devices, over etherCAT

August 08, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Renesas Electronics’ Remote I/O Trial Kit is a complete hardware and software reference solution for development of Remote I/O devices typically used for I/O monitoring, communication and industrial process control. The new solution supports the EtherCAT protocol.

Integrating the R-IN32M3 Industrial Network Device, the design – Renesas says – contributes to significant reduction of time-to-market for remote i/o units supporting EtherCAT. The design is part of Renesas' lineup expansion of platform solutions for the R-IN32M3 Series of industrial Ethernet communication system-on-chips (SoCs).

The reference design solution reduces the system designer’s development period and provides an actual industrial equipment application as a reference design. Renesas estimates that the new solution can reduce the development steps required, from the start of product development through the design prototype completion, a process that consists of hardware design, software design, and approval acquisition, by approximately over 60%.

The trend toward a smart factory requires that more of the I/O points need improved performance and more deterministic communication capabilities. This new crop of industrial Ethernet standards enables a network to have high-speed, real-time connectivity. However, when adopting these new industrial Ethernet technologies, large number of new development and evaluation operations are required. These include hardware design including corresponding SoC selection and circuit and layout design, implementation of industrial Ethernet protocols and application processing, functional and performance evaluation, and connection testing with master equipment such as PLC/PAC (programmable logic control/ programmable automation controller) equipment. The large number of development processes required here can lead to significant increases in the time and costs associated with the development of a new user product.

The Remote I/O Trial Kit solution will be available for limited supply to qualified system designers as a reference design that consists not only of an actual remote I/O module but also software, documentation, and circuit schematics. By providing this shrink-wrapped solution that has already completed all the development processes required, system designers will be able to significantly reduce the time from development to evaluation and the approval testing phase and they will profit from lower development risk and costs. Since the R-IN32M3 Series of SoCs used in this trial kit support protocols