Texas Instruments is the first semiconductor company to license Ethernet for Control Automation Technology (EtherCAT) for its ARM -based embedded processors and will use it in the Sitara ARM microprocessors planned for the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2011 and in further processor platforms beginning in 2012.
EtherCAT technology is based on the principle of fast processing on the fly. Messages are passed from node to node and processed while they are passed, which improves speed and efficiency in industrial systems. Industrial application performance is also improved with shorter reaction times, enabling increased operational efficiency.
The technology uses the standard IEEE 802.3 frames and physical layer. No external switches or hubs are necessary because the EtherCAT slave controllers forward the frames automatically. Most devices embed two RJ-45 ports, which are commonly utilized data ports for Ethernet connections. Auto-configuration of the EtherCAT technology is supported with no manual address setting is required and no network tuning is needed.
Integrating the EtherCAT slave controller on-chip allows the user to be tightly coupled to the application processor which provides higher throughput, lower latency access, and board space savings.
Matthias Poppel, Director for Embedded Processing at TI, EMEA, said “The TI approach to EtherCAT with the programmable real-time unit (PRU) on TI’s ARM-based processors allows for flexible implementation that can more easily adapt as industrial standards evolve over time. Real-time control and communication become available on a single chip.”
Martin Rostan, EtherCAT Technology Group Executive Director, added, “We are thrilled about this milestone development which will open entirely new markets for EtherCAT.”