Processor-based solution delivers factory production boost

18th November 2014
Mick Elliott

To meet the increased demand for productivity in factories, Renesas has launched the RZ/T1 Group, a new factory automation solution with built-in industrial network functionality for use in many industrial applications such as AC servo drives, motion controllers, inverter control and general industrial equipment that require high speed, responsiveness, and excellent real-time performance.

The company sees it as a replacement for traditional solutions such as high-frequency microprocessors (MPUs) and microcontrollers (MCUs).

In addition, deterministic, open standard networks such as EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, and PROFINET are becoming mainstream in all types of industrial equipment. Supporting such standards typically requires the use of a separate ASIC with dedicated communication functionality, which leads to increased system cost and circuit board footprint.

The new RZ/T1 group of devices are built around the ARM Cortex-R4F core operating at up to 600 MHz and are configured with two regions of tightly coupled memory (TCM), which is linked directly to the CPU core, removing the need for cache memory.

TCMs support critical routines, such as interrupt handling routines or real-time tasks, ensuring the highest level of responsiveness with no cache latency. The RZ/T1 also integrates the R-IN Engine industrial Ethernet communication accelerator. It provides the same multi-protocol features as the highly regarded Renesas R-IN Series, with support for multiple industrial Ethernet communication standards, including EtherCAT.

The RZ/T1 devices likewise retain many of the peripheral functions of the Renesas RX Family and SH Family, making it easier for system manufacturers to design scalable industrial control equipment systems leveraging multiple Renesas architectures.

The solution is built around the ARM Cortex-R4F core (rated at 1.66 DMIPS/MHz), which is designed for real-time processing, can operate at frequencies up to 600 MHz, and features a single/double precision FPU for efficient math operation. There are two TCM regions – 512 K utilized for code and operation and 32 K for data, both with effectively no-wait access from the CPU (Note 2).

There is an additional 1MB of RAM for use in the application to support better partitioning and efficiency. In addition, there is a vectored interrupt controller (VIC) in hardware that delivers high-performance, low-latency interrupt handling, further boosting real-time performance.

These configuration enhancements make it possible to build systems with high-speed processing and excellent real-time responsiveness superior to those using conventional MCUs with on-chip flash memory or microprocessors employing cache memory.

The RZ/T1 Group includes devices equipped with the industry-proven Renesas R-IN engine, which incorporates an Ethernet accelerator and a real-time OS accelerator (HW-RTOS).

The R-IN engine includes a dedicated CPU core running at 150MHz and implements the functions of a real-time OS in hardware, and handles the communication and peripherals for system-level efficiency.

The R-IN engine is designed to support multiple industrial Ethernet communication standards, including EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, and PROFINET. The recently launched R-IN Consortium is expected to provide a variety of solutions from Renesas and partner vendors that will reduce the time needed to develop industrial equipment.

The SH Family and RX Family of Renesas MCUs have a proven track record in the field of industrial equipment, and the RZ/T1 inherits many of the peripheral functions, including well-established timers and communication functions. This simplifies the development by leveraging prior designs using other Renesas architectures, thus improving time to market. To meet the demanding reliability and safety requirements of industrial equipment, the on-chip memory, including tightly coupled memory, incorporates ECC functionality. Additional safety functions, including a register write protection function to prevent overwriting of key registers in case of program runaway, an input clock oscillation stop detection function, and an independent watchdog timer function all help to simplify safety certification.

The RZ/T1 Group incorporates the real-time processing, low-latency memory, high-speed analog, and network connectivity that matches the needs of many AC servo drive applications. In addition, Renesas plans to launch devices that will be an industry-first to feature an encoder interface that will support many of the motor feedback protocols such as EnDat 2.2 and sensor and actuator protocols such as BiSS and SSI. These digital, bidirectional interfaces for encoders provide precise position values from incremental and absolute encoders. Typically implemented using FPGAs or ASICs, integrating this function on the RZ/T1 reduces the component count and cuts system costs.

With all the processing power and real-time architecture to manage tighter control loops, the network connectivity to support deterministic communication, and the capability of a high speed encoder interface all in a single chip, the RZ/T1 is truly an AC servo solution on a single chip.


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