24 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Chips link almost any industrial network

Chips link almost any industrial network

The German communications specialist, Hilscher, has developed a family of chips which can act as industrial controllers and as interfaces between almost any real-time Ethernet and fieldbus system. The netX chips, which Hilscher describes as “the next generation of highly integrated network controllers”, have taken four years to develop.

The chips support the following real-time Ethernet systems: Ethernet/IP (with CIP Sync); Ethernet PowerLink; EtherCat; Modbus IDA; Profinet (RT and IRT) and Sercos III. They also support the following fieldbus systems: AS-i (master); CANopen; DeviceNet; InterBus (master); and Profibus (master and slave). Up to four different fieldbus systems can be combined in an application. There are two Ethernet channels which can be set to operate as a switch or hub.

The chips also have PWM and two-channel incremental encoder interfaces for motion control applications, as well as analogue and digital I/O, USB ports and an HMI controller channel. Applications for the chips can be developed in Windows CE, Linux and RCX (a real-time operating system). Support for VxWorks is planned.

Hilscher has produced a range of boards (such as the one shown above) for potential users to evaluate the chips and to develop applications.