SAN DIEGO. Congatec, provider of standardized and customized embedded computer boards and modules, in San Diego, California, is introducing a virtualized embedded computing platform for easy programmable logic controller (PLC) and user interface (UI) hardware consolidation. Engineers are demonstrating the platform with a hexapod robot playing a piano based on a standard embedded hardware platform from congatec; industry-leading hypervisor technology from Real-Time Systems (RTS); IEC 61131-3-compliant CODESYS SoftPLC running on real-time VxWorks OS from Wind River Systems; and a virtualized graphical user interface (GUI) based on Microsoft Windows 10.
Using standard building blocks, the platform’s logic includes everything needed for the control of motion systems in a modular and cross-platform capable format. The platform’s demo controller connects to the three servo motors of the hexapod and is programmed to press piano keys. The GUI is operated by Microsoft Windows and, resembling a jukebox, is used to select the music to be played by the robot. To demonstrate the independence of the real-time operating system from Microsoft Windows running in parallel, the GUI can be rebooted while the robot keeps playing piano.
“The combination of congatec hardware and RTS hypervisor technology creates an embedded computing platform for smart motion controllers that OEM customers can leverage to achieve very fast time to market as both the hardware building blocks and the SoftPLC are standards-based, industry-proven, modular, cross-platform capable components ready for installation; plus the hypervisor supports all common real-time operating system (RTOS) and general-purpose operating system (GPOS) combinations OEMs might need,” explains Martin Danzer, director of product management at congatec.
OEMs benefit from a solid and powerful foundation for their real-time control logic. The platform’s fundamental building blocks have been validated to work together smoothly. Congatec’s acquisition of hypervisor vendor RTS contributes to this optimized interaction between hardware and hypervisor, officials say.
The underlying hardware platform is built on congatec computer-on-modules (COMs) and RTS real-time hypervisor, simplifying efforts to allocate and adapt the real-time processing power to any smart motion control or robotics demand. In a quad-core configuration with Intel Xeon E3-1505M V6 (4 x 3.0/4.0 GHz, 8MB cache), the platform can support up to eight threads to control up to eight real-time axis drives in parallel or include smart vision and deep learning support.
The design is based on the conga-TS175 COM Express Type 6 Computer-on-Modules. Equipped with the high-end dual-chip versions of the new Intel Xeon and Gen 7 Intel Core processors (codename Kaby Lake), they set a new benchmark for module-based high-end embedded computers and modular industrial controls that need to process massive workloads, officials say. The modules are mounted on a conga-IT6 carrier board. Users of this new, Mini-ITX based carrier board for COMs can scale their applications across all relevant processor generations and manufacturers as required.
The Real-Time Hypervisor-enabled hardware can be adapted to any required communication logic on a project basis. This includes multiple hardware interfaces; i.e., Ethercat, MelsecNet, and FINS or CC-Link, CANopen, DeviceNet, and RS-232, as well as any other open Industrial Ethernet and fieldbus standards.
A 60-day licensed version of the Real-Time Hypervisor is available on request.
Congatec is a supplier of industrial computer modules using the standard form factors COM Express, Qseven, and SMARC, as well as single-board computers and customizing services. Congatec’s products can be used in a variety of industries and applications, such as industrial automation, medical, entertainment, transportation, telecommunication, test & measurement, and point-of-sale. Core knowledge and technical know-how includes unique extended BIOS features as well as comprehensive driver and board support packages. Following the design-in phase, customers are given support via extensive product lifecycle management. The company’s products are manufactured by specialist service providers in accordance with modern quality standards. Headquartered in Deggendorf, Germany, congatec currently has entities in USA, Taiwan, China, Japan, and Australia as well as United Kingdom, France, and the Czech Republic.