Altera Corp. and Arrow Electronics have teamed up to deliver an
FPGA-based motor control development platform that simplifies the process of
supporting several different communication protocols.
Known as MotionFire, the new motor
control platform could be a boon for developers who want to control motors from
inside and outside the factory, mixing Industrial Ethernet with various
fieldbuses. The three companies say they are targeting the platform at a
variety of industrial, automotive, medical, instrumentation and consumer
technology, users can re-program everything on a single platform to support
multiple protocols," says Jason Chiang, senior technical marketing manager for
Altera Corp., which supplies the FPGA (field-programmable gate array)
technology for the platform. "That way, they don't need to re-spin a custom
board for each solution they deploy."
companies say the key to the new platform is Altera's Cyclone
III FPGA technology, which is programmed to support and bridge multiple
industrial networking protocols. Cyclone III is part of the MotionFire
platform, which includes the FireFighter FPGA-based communication baseboard and
the FireDriver motor driver power modules. The platform can be used to control
various motor types, including stepper, servo, AC and DC motors. The platform
connects up to 12 motors, providing such network communication options as Ethernet/IP,
EtherCAT, Profinet, SERCOS III, CAN, USB and RS485.
for the new development platform came from all three companies, with National
Semiconductor providing power management components, Arrow doing the board
design and manufacturing and Altera supplying FPGAs and embedded processors.
Engineers from the
three companies hope the new technology will simplify the process of
connecting various factory floor fieldbuses to outside networks. "More and
more, our customers are telling us that they not only need to upgrade and
maintain multiple motion control platforms, but also that they need to
integrate those into a network environment, so that they can manage systems
remotely," Chiang says. "With FPGAs,
they can put everything on a single board. And they can support both the
industrial connectivity and the motor interfaces that they need."