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Motion Control and Real-Time Communications in One Chip


Hilscher announces new motion control capabilities for its netX 90 multiprotocol network chip. netMOTION is a firmware-configured communications solution with built-in motor control for applications in networked factory and process control systems, assembly, packaging, robotics and more.  With netMOTION, developers get Real-Time Ethernet connectivity and general-purpose motor and motion control in a single-chip solution, which simplifies designs and reduces material costs. Running on Hilscher's netX 90 communications SoC, netMOTION acts as an interface between motion sensors and Real-Time Ethernet networks, providing a solution that can be adapted to suit a wide variety of needs. It works with either Halls, encoder, or resolver position feedback for 3-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors (PMSM) and Brushless DC Motors (BLDC).  Motion Control applications are supported on-board, with generic applications available for development purposes.  A Development Kit will be launched in Q1 2021.

netMOTION Summary: Electric motors perform essential tasks in factory automation and industrial applications.  However, typical chip solutions for motion and motor control systems often lack real-time Ethernet connectivity, leading to two-chip solutions at the PCB level and higher Bill of Material (BOM) costs. For network-enabled field applications, embedded system designers often face the question of which communications strategy to invest in: one with just a single network protocol capability, or one with multi-protocol capabilities that can serve different market sectors and geographies.

netMOTION is a comprehensive response to these challenges using Hilscher's netX 90 System on Chip (SoC) as the "engine."  With netMOTION, Hilsher's long-standing strategy of supporting multiple real-time network protocols with firmware-configured solutions is extended into the motion control domain. The approach leads to a single PCB design for multiple market environments. The firmware chosen determines which network protocol, motor, position feedback, and application profiles are supported.  netMOTION comes with a generic control application to help developers with first designs. A Development Kit will launch in Q1 2021.
How netMOTION Works:  netMOTION supports deterministic, low-latency, network-synchronized control of field-oriented control (FOC)-based motor control system designs. It works with a variety of motion sensors, including halls, encoder, or resolver position feedback for 3-phase PMSM and BLDC motors.

The netX 90 SoC incorporates the following:


  • A communication segment: A CPU with two communication (xC) channels, with switch and IEEE 1588 support for all widely used industrial communication protocols, including PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT.   Dual CPUs isolate the application from the network for better security.
  • An application segment: A second CPU with DSP and FPU support, with a set of on-chip peripherals for motion and motor control applications: MPWM, MADC, MENC, EnDat 2.2 and BiSS. Enhanced GPIOs with Timer are also supported.
  • Shared functions: Serving both segments. Includes integrated firewalls and much more.

The data exchange with the protocol stack interface using the internal DPM (iDPM) eliminates access latencies for single-cycle CPU access. The virtual DPM comprises up to 32 KB SRAM with handshake cell registers and IRQ support, including a hardware-assisted network synchronization generated by the xC trigger unit. The exact use of the hardware-assisted synchronization depends on the supported feature-set of the real-time communication protocol standard and the underlying device configuration for the network connection with the PLC.

The built-in motion and motor control application enables FOC with position feedback, driving one 3-phase PMSM or BLDC motor. The host interface of the netX 90, with the same dual-ported memory mechanism and layout, provides a scalable and extendable application design solution, enabling a common standard network interface for both companion chip and single chip use cases.