10 GbE in Real Time

August 27, 2018

There is an increased need for server technology in machinery and plants for control systems and HMIs with performance requirements increasing in line with the challenges: Vision systems produce immense quantities of raw data that need to be processed and analyzed in parallel and in real time to realize visual and interactive robotic technologies. Connecting all this with other fog servers and Industry 4.0 machines and systems requires extremely high computing performance that can only be achieved with server technologies. Real-time Ethernet, super fast process technology, and ultramodern storage are needed to efficiently handle the entire big data from horizontal and vertical communications. 

Before server processor technology can find a foothold in the control cabinet, some challenges have to be overcome. It is imperative to provide processor technology that is designed for use in industrial environments. This means it must be energy efficient because several hundred watts of processor power produce too much waste heat for the technology to be usable in the industrial control cabinet. In addition, it needs to be available for a long time, as machines and systems have an operating lifespan not of years but of decades. Lastly, it must also be designed to support very different interfaces in the smallest possible footprint. 

All these requirements are fully addressed by using standardized modules. Having proven themselves for many years in customer-specific embedded computer systems, they are predestined for extremely space-constrained Industry 4.0 server designs. For this reason, the PICMG has extended the COM Express specification to include a server-on-module specification: The COM Express Type 7 pinout, drafted by congatec as an editor. COM Express Type 7 modules offer two 10 GbE interfaces for horizontal and vertical real-time communication as well as up to 32 PCIe lanes for connecting the peripherals that can be used for fast storage media, General Purpose Graphics Processing Units (GPGPUs) and all types of industrial Ethernet interfaces. 

The conga-B7AC is based on Intel Atom C3000 series system on chips (SoCs) with up to 16 cores, while the conga-B7XD features scalable compute options ranging from a quad-core Pentium D processor to 16-core Intel Xeon D-1500 series chipsets. 

For more information, visit www.congatec.com/us/products/com-express-type7.html.

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