It is the author’s opinion that integration of the controls networking and the IT networking is inevitable. It became inevitable the moment the controls industry chose to use Ethernet as the medium with which to communicate data. The controls industry may choose to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern communications era, or it can gracefully embrace the change. Embracing means the controls industry would be able to leverage the myriad rich, existing technologies that have been proven foolproof in the IT world. To be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern communications era would do a terrible injustice to those who have worked diligently to bring it about. This could quite possibly add an entirely new facet to the fieldbus wars, which I hope have not been forgotten.
With that said, the controls world is going to be moving with an industry that has a definite consumer bias, with product development and release cycles of six months or less. In an industry where the average life expectancy of an automotive production line is eight years, it is impossible to expect the networks in an industrial setting to keep up with modern IT standards. Therefore, we turn our attention to the technologies that have existed the longest, with the most open standards and the very best support. These are the protocols we wish to use and keep, and this article highlights and explains some of these technologies.
This article does not focus on the technical automation of each piece of technology. Rather, it is assumed the reader will be using packaged solutions such as a function block for a PLC. These packages typically require only that the user specifies the relevant server to connect to, the data to be gathered and an activation bit. The particulars of each protocol and concept are, ideally, transparent to the user, and therefore it is not pressing that the user understands what is contained in each packet passed between the server and the client. As each protocol described in this article is openly documented and supported, a simple search on the Internet for the technical details will likely yield the relevant implementation details.
Performance is critical in solutions Things-enabled factories, as it enables greater analysis of product quality, equipment performance, and other factors. Overall performance is up 15 percent in the new processors, while signal and image processing get an additional 2x boost with Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel AVX) 2.0. As shown in, Intel AVX 2.0 introduces a fully pipelined Fused Multiply Add (FMA3) that provides twice embedded systems performance of the previous generation for the multiply-add workloads common in image processing. Intel AVX 2.0 also extends integer vector processing from 128 bits to 256 bits, also doubling throughput for many fanless embedded systems workloads. Along the way we’ll present examples where members of the Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance are taking advantage of the new embedded systems.