Embedded modules simplify processor integration


This article presents the advantages provided by the new TI Sitara AM572x processor integrated in the modules offered by Phytec.


By Florian Gross, Texas Instruments and Ralf Orschau, Phytec          Download PDF version of this article


Industrial customers face significant challenges whenever they introduce a new process platform, regardless of whether they design it themselves or prefer to purchase a third-party module instead. This is mainly a result of the on-chip analog sections of increasingly complex processors nowadays, which have higher hardware and software requirements than previously. This can lead to costly and lengthy development cycles.

As a solution to this dilemma, module vendors readily integrate EMC-critical components at the module level. As a manufacturer of embedded modules, Phytec has many years of experience concerning EMC-aware layout for high-speed signals. Relevant components are integrated into the module, which plays the role of an additional component on the carrier board. This separation between processor environment and application greatly simplifies the design of the carrier board.

Figure 1. Block diagram of Texas Instrument ARM Cortex-A15 processor AM572x

 

Each module comes with a hardware-specific Board Support Package (BSP). Phytec adapts the BSP to its hardware, which leads to significant time and cost savings for the customer. Designing the software for new processors usually takes as much time as the design of the hardware. Upon request, the company will also make any module-related driver adaptions for the final products. Based on the long-term relationship between Texas Instruments and Phytec, the module manufacturer has access to selected processors like the AM572x processor in an early development stage. This shortens the time-to-market, meaning the module can be made available to customers earlier. Based on a single- or dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 architecture, the AM572x processor is available in different configuration levels featuring up to two C66 DSPs supporting the main processor in HMI applications, etc. In the past, this would have required two separate processors. Automotive applications benefit from the processor Profibus protocols and its temperature range of -40 °C to 105 °C.

When it comes to performance, the two ARM Cortex-A15 cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz (3.5DMIPS/MHz) and the two C66 DSPs are supported by 2 x 32 bits of DDR3/DDR3L memory, with one of these memories featuring ECC (Memory Error Detection). For the first time, the SGX544 dual-core 3D graphics acceleration unit and video acceleration for a 1080p HD stream have been integrated in a TI Sitara processor, enabling the MCU to drive multiple displays.

For industrial automation applications, the AM572x processor provides significant benefits resulting from its two on-chip instances of the PRU-ICSS (Programmable Real-time Unit – Industrial Communication Subsystem), providing support for almost all industrial fieldbus protocols. Cooperating with third-party suppliers, TI provides stacks and firmware for Profibus, EtherCAT, Profinet, and EtherNET IP slave operation. In addition, master configurations are planned for Profibus and EtherCAT. Stacks and firmware have been integrated and tested in the TI System Development Kit (SDK) for TI-RTOS (Real-Time Operating System), which can be downloaded for free at the company website. The TI-RTOS kernel is a basic real-time operating system specifically designed for TI products. The on-chip C66xx DSPs provide an additional advantage for industrial automation applications. For instance, they can be used to implement motor monitoring and error detection schemes. For this purpose, the DSPs are accessed via OpenCL in order to perform a spectrum analysis based on the FFT algorithm (Fast Fourier Transform). By detecting motor frequency variations, this reveals any imbalances or other faults.

Figure 2. Comparison of different AM572x processor variants

 

Phytec develops the phyCORE-AM57x processor module based on the AM572x processor. With the feature set described above, the module lends itself particularly to HMI, aviation control, industrial automation, machine vision, medical imaging, and networking applications. Using the phyCAM-P interface, cameras and automotive sensors can be connected to the phyCORE-AM57x processor module. To suit different market requirements, the company uses mechanically robust connectors on the module. Alternatively, the module can be directly soldered to the carrier board using the company’s proprietary DSC technology. The components were selected based on their long-term availability, their suitability for industrial applications and their extended temperature range. If required, a protective coating is also available for the module.

A development kit for the phyCORE-AM57x processor will be provided, facilitating a quick entry into the design of a custom carrier board and corresponding applications. The kit consists of the phyCORE-AM57x processor module suitable for industrial use and volume production, a universal carrier board, circuit diagrams and a comprehensive software package. The latter includes a build environment based on the YOCTO project. All relevant documentation is also included. In addition, free support is provided for the start-up phase. The complete microelectronics stage is manufactured by Phytec at its Mainz factory. The company provides customers with insight into the production process in order to negotiate any customizations that might be necessary in the manufacture of certified products.

Figure 3. phyCORE-AM57x processor embedded module and possible applications

 

The example described demonstrates how module providers can cooperate with semiconductor manufacturers in order to design modules matching the high performance and complexity level provided by modern processors. The integration of EMC-critical components into the module also reduces the time to market and the design effort required for customer projects. Consequently, module design can start while the processor is still prepared for volume production. In addition, the modules provide guaranteed long-term availability and are suitable for industrial applications. By letting all project partners concentrate on the core competencies, this concept brings sustainable advantages for industrial customers who also benefit from the elimination of lengthy and costly in-house development projects.


Related


Tackling the challenges of IoT device development

This article describes the ARIS (Arrow Renesas IoT Synergy) development platforms, which leverage the Renesas Synergy framework and address the specific needs of IoT device developers in ways that...

Cooling Options for PET and SPECT Scanners

Thermal management of medical imaging systems is more challenging than ever. Given the complexity of some PET and SPECT systems, the use of a custom designed liquid cooling systems with plug-and-play ...

 


Infineon launches a new family of configurable industrial drive boards

In this video Infineon explains their new family of configurable industrial drive boards at SPS-IPC Drives 2017. Intended to enable easy setup and deployment, the XMC-based automation boards can handl...


STMicro explains their STSPIN family of single-chip motor drivers

In this video STMicroelectronics explains their STSPIN single-chip motor drivers at SPS-IPC Drives 2017. The STSPIN family embeds can drive motors efficiently and with high accuracy, with an advanced ...


Taking SiC Mainstream: The Story of Littelfuse Power Semiconductors

Since 1964, Littelfuse has brought its legacy of stability and reliability in circuit protection to the power semiconductor space. Now, the company is pioneering a series of in-house technology breakt...


Intel and Wind River Lead Technology Innovation Delivering Resilient and Secure Functional Safety Solutions

Together, industry leaders Wind River and Intel are delivering innovative Industrial IEC 61508 functional safety certification solutions that reduce project risk. A holistic approach is used to combin...


Wind River Titanium Control Advances Industrial IoT

Gareth Noyes, Chief Strategy Officer at Wind River introduces Wind River Titanium Control, a software platform that enables critical infrastructure companies to cost-effectively evolve aging legacy co...


WSI's OLED Professional innovations create more value for You.

WSI are the PMOLED manufacturer and our factory located in Chun-Nan in Taiwan. Our products are the market leader and pioneer in PMOLED module, including the monochrome, area colors and full color one...


SKIPPER UBT21 - a Bluetooth 4.0 USB serial adapter for industrial and medical use

SKIPPER UBT21 is a Bluetooth 4.0 USB serial adapter for industrial and medical use. It incorporates a Bluetooth Dual-Mode Stack, supports ranges of up to 300 meters and transferrates of 720 kbit/s (ne...


Three of a kind - Versatility based on Low Power ARM Cortex-A15

At this year's Embedded World, MEN has presented three low power, ARM Cortex-A15-based solutions on different form factors: a VMEbus SBC, an industrial box PC and a COM Express Mini module. All so...


Enabling Embedded IoT

Eurotech, a long-time leading provider of embedded systems and a global leader in IoT enablement, showed its new modules and Multi-service IoT Gateways at Embedded World 2017. The newly introduced Eu...


PLS’ UDE and new UAD2next allow more powerful trace analysis of embedded multicore systems

The new Universal Debug Engine 4.8 from PLS Development Tools offers a bunch of new and improved features for trace analysis of embedded multicore systems. With the new access device UAD2next PLS cont...


Disruptive technologies

Rahman Jamal, Global Technology & Marketing Director, National Instruments, talks about disruptive technologies in the consumer world, but also in measurement, automation, and the embedded industr...


AdaCore Announces Availability of QGen Debugger at Embedded World 2017

Jose Ruiz, technical lead at AdaCore for the company's QGen automatic code generator toolset for model-based development, discusses that product and explains what differentiates it from other prod...


SECO IoT roadmap: from the proof of concept to the market

During Embedded World 2017 Gianluca Venere, SECO Director of Global Sales, leads us to discover the company's Industrial IoT roadmap showcased at SECO's main booth, along with the latest UDOO ...


Internet of Chocolate

HCC show off an embedded chocolate vending machine using MQTT to connect to a broker in the cloud. There is an important message behind this cool demo – security and reliability of embedded soft...