The semiconductor industry has seen significant growth in industrial applications in recent years. It has been estimated that the global market of industrial semiconductor market is poised to grow from $34.8 Billion in 2013 to around $55.2 Billion by 2018, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7%. Thanks to the new technology innovations in Internet of Things (IOT), new application areas for M2M communication are being invented, fueling the growth of industrial application-specific chipsets.
Foreseeing the market opportunities in Industrial Automation, Texas Instruments (TI) has come up with a new chipset in SITARA family of processors called AM5x. The major concern of TI with this chipset has been to provide energy-efficient solutions to growing industrial applications. AM5x is based on ARM Cortex-A15 and is available in both single core and dual core variants. It supports latest industrial automation interface standards like PROFINET®- RT and EtherNet/IP™ for PROFIBUS® and EtherCAT®. In this blog, I have tried to cover some application scenarios where AM5x can be a great fit.
The first application area that AM5x fits in well, is in HMI gateways. There is a growing need for achieving x86-level performance in Industrial HMI and PLC systems with processors which can have smaller form factors and less heat dissipation. At the same time, the complexities in industrial designs communication between devices has become a critical operational aspect. HMI gateways need a to talk to industrial controllers/PLCs over standard industrial protocols like CANBUS, PROFIBUS and simultaneously support high-performance graphical user interface (UI) for easy operation. AM5x has small form factor and is quite power-efficient as it dissipates less heat and has support for latest industrial protocols. It also supports Android operating system (OS) for high-performance graphical user interface.
Figure 1: Industrial HMI Unit
AM5x is based on floating point architecture and can support two operating systems on each individual ARM cores without any virtualization software. We can run Real Time Operating System (RTOS) on one core and an Android on another. This combination can serve time- critical industrial control applications and even provide high-performance graphical user interface for parameter displays.
Figure 2: PLC System
We can also port WirelessHART protocol on AM5x and develop a gateway solution. With low power consumption and support for x86 architecture, it can provide high performance on HART and support more number of devices than standard WirelessHART gateways. Being low cost, AM5x can also help in achieving a cost-effective wireless solution for growing industrial control needs. Being dual core, it can also integrate with Asset Management Software’s (AMS) and provide a single box WirelessHART gateway solution.
Figure 1: WirelessHART Gateway Application Scenario