PICMG has developed several specifications for the process control, machine vision, and other requirements in Industrial Automation. CompactPCI has been used in a wide range of automation systems for over 20 years. Several applications are now using CompactPCI Serial, which adds serial fabrics to the Eurocard form factor. The benefit of these backplane-based approaches is a high-degree of long-term scalability and flexibility in multiple applications or as your single applications’ requirements evolve. With pluggable (and hot swappable) modules, users can select from a wide variety of processors, graphics modules, storage boards, FPGAs, etc. With options for failover protection, the system can provide tremendous reliability and guaranteed uptime. Smaller MicroTCA/AMC systems have also been deployed in Industrial Automation applications.
COM Express is a highly flexible technology and proven technology with multiple standard sizes. It is a good fit for Industrial Automation applications. The concept of COM Express is that it has a mezzanine interface that separate two parts of the system — the readily available core intelligence and a customized carrier board to provide I/O specific to the application. This also allows a designer to quickly design a solution as the majority of the work has already been completed with the pluggable module. It is also easily scalable/upgradeable to newer generations of mezzanines.
The Industrial PC is commonly employed in automation systems where the size and weight requirements are not demanding and the initial costs do not outweigh reliability/MTBF needs. The benefit of Industrial PCs is the combination of expansion with a reasonably low-cost system. Industrial PCs have typically 7 slots with various configurations of x1, x4, or x16 PCIe Gen3 or PCI expandability. They often have several I/O options as well as multiple configurations of USB, serial, Ethernet, graphics, and audio ports. There are also versions with SATA port choices as well as RAID options. Although the daughter cards are not hot swappable, single or dual redundant hot-swappable power supplies can be employed. Of course, the costs will begin to creep up as you add higher degrees of reliability.
PICMG 1.3 (SHB Express) is an industry standard for edge-card processor cards in the industrial PC format. The specification includes an edge-card processor board and backplane combination that supports faster system MTTR [mean time to recovery] times, enhanced hardware platform stability, and increased support for industry-standard plug-in cards. This provides a wide diversity of applications the specification can be used in. The standard defines the routing of up to 20 PCIe base links from the system host board to a PICMG 1.3 backplane. Vision systems requiring higher speeds, reporting capability, and more reliability benefit from this type of approach.
PICMG has had extensive Industrial IoT discussions with key industry leads and open working groups. Contact PICMG to request to join a future open IIoT call.