25 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Real-time Profinet runs on a standard Ethernet controller

Phoenix Contact’s automation software subsidiary, KW-Software, has developed a way of running Profinet IRT (isochronous real-time) on a standard Intel Ethernet controller. Until now, custom chips have been needed to provide sufficient precision.

Previously, says Peter Fuchs, KW’s head of communications, “complex hardware like special Asics, FPGAs or expensive plug-in boards have had to be used for synchronising Profinet communications. With the Intel Ethernet controller I210 family and our Profinet stacks, very cost-efficient and space-saving IRT-capable Profinet interfaces can now be realised, particularly for PC-based controls and automation devices.”

Karsten Schneider, chairman of Profibus and Profinet International (PI), regards the KW development as “an important step”.

“It has always been possible to integrate Profinet with RT communication on standard Ethernet controllers,” he explains. “From now, this is also possible for IRT. This means that device manufacturers now have scalable and suitable options for integrating Profinet in their devices and controllers.”

KW plans to offer the system for various CPU architectures and real-time operating systems, including Wind River’s VxWorks. A step-by-step migration from Profinet RT to IRT communications will be possible.