FPGA vendor Altera Corp. has signed an agreement with Softing Industrial Automation that combines a licensing structure that simplifies the integration of FPGA-based Industrial Ethernet designs in factory automation systems.
Developed in collaboration with Softing Industrial Automation GmbH, the new licensing structure provides system developers with access to leading Industrial Ethernet protocols with no upfront license fees, no per-unit royalty reporting or protracted negotiations.
In addition to the simplified liscencing structure, they plan to include a Altera is collaborating with Softing Industrial Automation to offer a simplified licensing structure with a Unified Software Application Programming Interface for industrial Ethernet design.
As a result of the collaboration between the two companies, customers will have access to a variety of Industrial Ethernet protocols in a single Altera FPGA, including PROFINET RT, PROFINET IRT, Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP/IP, EtherNet/IP and PROFIBUS DP – all of which are fully compliance tested in hardware.
“While Industrial Ethernet is a vital technology for linking the elements of industrial electronic systems, it is also a highly fragmented technology that includes a variety of different protocols,” said Christoph Fritsch, senior manager of the Altera industrial business. “Supporting a market like Industrial Ethernet is the sweet spot for FPGAs due to their programmability and ability to quickly and easily support different protocol standards.”
Altera's Industrial Ethernet approach implements the protocol intellectual property (IP) and software stack into an FPGA that features an integrated embedded processor. The embedded processor configures the FPGA at power-up with the desired protocol IP.
In this way, a single board can work with a range of protocols without hardware modifications. The FPGA can also be used to implement various industrial automation functions, such as sensor interfaces, accelerators and control logic.
Support for the PROFINET RT and PROFINET IRT protocols will be available in January 2013, with additional protocol IPs available later in 2013.