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Microprocessors with built-in industrial comms will cut costs and time to market

02 February, 2012

The semiconductor manufacturer Texas Instruments (TI) has announced the availability of a series of microprocessors with built-in industrial communication protocols that, it says, will accelerate industrial designs and cut component costs by up to 30%. The chips include a programmable real-time interface that eliminates the need for an external ASIC or FPGA.

TI predicts that the chips will accelerate the development of automation products such as PLCs, HMIs and I/O devices. The onboard master and slave functions support protocols such as EtherCat, Ethernet/IP, Profibus, Profinet, Powerlink and Sercos III. Also built in is support for Can, USB and two Gigabit Ethernet ports, allowing fast connections to networks and to sensors, actuators and motor controls.

There are several versions of the chips targeting different applications. For example, there are two 275MHz versions designed to provide slave communications for sensors, actuators, drives, communications modules and gateways. For PLC applications that need to control I/O devices, there are two chips that operate at up to 720MHz. And for HMI applications, there are three chips with onboard 3D graphics accelerators and touchscreen controllers. The chips dissipate less than 7mW of power.

Accompanying the new microprocessors are two industrial hardware development tools – a development kit and an industrial communications engine – as well as supporting software.

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