How Exor International forged an Industry 4.0 Edge and Cloud Infrastructure out of more than 200 industrial automation protocols

By Exor International

 

Exor International provides products and services that support the growing need for intelligence in industrial automation markets during the rapid, ongoing digital transformation and streamlining of nearly every industrial process in nearly every factory on the planet. The benefits of this transformation include:

  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Increased productivity and throughput
  • Improved production quality
  • Higher reliability levels and better uptime

This market requires specialized products and services tailored to the real-time nature of the industrial automation business and Exor strives to meet those requirements with products closely adapted to those needs. Two significant examples include:

  • The Exor Industrial Smart Edge Platform used for implementing smart Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) and HMI/controllers, edge controllers, and multiprotocol field gateways for industrial IoT (IIoT) networks
  • The Corvina Cloud and Corvina Edge used for implementing network architectures optimized for industrial applications

The Exor Industrial Smart Edge Platform employs Intel® Cyclone® V SoC FPGAs to bring a combination of real-time Linux and high-speed, FPGA-based response times to bring real-time response capabilities and secure, enterprise-class network connectivity to existing applications using more than 200 legacy industrial automation protocols. The continually evolving Industrial Smart Edge Platform incorporates an RTOS running on the Intel SoC FPGA’s internal multicore processor and implements EtherCAT functionality. It is extremely difficult to implement the real-time aspects of EtherCAT without an FPGA or other dedicated hardware to execute time-critical portions of the protocol.

Similarly, the increasingly popular Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) protocol also requires the capabilities of an FPGA’s programmable logic to meet real-time protocol specifications. Further, the TSN specifications are still in development, they are still in flux, so an FPGA’s reprogrammability is extremely helpful for today’s TSN implementations.

Exor’s Corvina Cloud and Corvina Edge IIoT networking platform allows the data generated by new or legacy products, plants, systems, and machines to be collected, processed, and analyzed to bring industry 4.0 benefits including asset performance management, predictive maintenance, and operational technology (OT) remote monitoring to a wide range industrial processes. Exor designed the Corvina Cloud and Corvina Edge Cluster with a solid infrastructure that permits automatic procedures to constantly monitor system state and to predict and warn of any detected issues.

For example, an automatic object inspection (AOI) system might need to use a variety of equipment including linear cameras, colorimeters, image photometers, surface-brightness measurement sensors, contrast TFT measurement sensors, and other instruments to perform complex inspections of manufactured goods or even farm produce. Such an integrated system can perform inspections for surface uniformity, scratches, and blob or printing defects and can detect particles, fingerprints, contamination, or non-uniform surfaces. Each of these sensors generally employs different interface protocols and data formats. All of these can be handled by the Corvina platform and Corvina Edge devices.

To help ensure overall network reliability, Exor has built a redundancy capability into its Corvina products. Corvina Edge devices can be twinned. If a Corvina Edge device operating as the primary unit in a twin configuration stops working, the twin secondary device can take over until the failed device can be replaced. The result is uninterrupted factory output.

Exor’s gigaSOM platform is the computing element that implements a Corvina Edge node. The Exor gigaSOM teams a multicore Intel® Atom® E3930, E3940, or E3950 processor with an Intel® Cyclone® 10 FPGA. The Intel Cyclone 10 FPGA addresses the real-time needs of industrial automation requirements and the Intel Atom processor opens the door to a wide range of Intel-developed software that Exor has used for its own product development including:

  • Edge Insights for Industrial Orchestrator (code named Castle Lake): A set of pre-integrated ingredients designed to accelerate the development and deployment of industrial solutions. The package is designed to be deployed on an edge device closest to data generation such as the tool or machine assembling a product. This package enables the ingestion of video and time-series data, storage of data, and data analysis for closed-loop control and networked reporting.
  • Edge Control for Industrial (ECI): A suite of BitBake (make-build) recipes that can build custom real-time operating systems with virtualization capabilities, integrated industrial protocol support, CPU and kernel optimizations, and benchmarking tools for real-time applications.
  • Edge Insights Software (EIS): An open, modular, and validated software package that ingests, processed, and stores time series data – such as image, video, or audio data – so that it can be subsequently processed by data analytics running in edge devices or in the cloud.
  • Wireless TSN (WTSN): Provides time synchronization and time-aware traffic scheduling and shaping to create a low-latency, time-sensitive wireless network using WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 networks.
  • WebAssembly (WASM) and SoftPLC: A reference kit that serves as a programmable automation controller (PAC) prototyping tool using a provided runtime engine and a WebAssembly Micro Runtime (WAMR).
  • Open Network Services Software (OpenNESS): An open-source software toolkit that enables easy orchestration and management of edge services across diverse network platforms in multi-cloud environments.
  • Coreboot: A firmware platform that provides fast and secure boot capabilities for embedded platforms.

In addition, Intel and its strategic IP partners offer a broad portfolio of configurable IP cores that are optimized for Intel® FPGAs. These many cores allow us to shrink development time by reusing proven, existing cores in our designs. We need only develop cores that are specific to our own requirements. Intel also provides FPGA-specific IP, such as the AI Deep Learning Acceleration (DLA) suite, which we expect to harness in future product revisions.

Exor has benefitted from Intel’s help in many more ways that just the availability of an immense software and IP library and infrastructure. Intel continues to evolve its processor and FPGA products by constantly introducing more advanced semiconductor products, which allows Exor to do the same with its system-level industrial offerings. In addition, Intel has provided engineering and prompt technical support on an almost daily basis, which has been of tremendous help to Exor’s design team. Intel’s sales team has offered our solutions to its customers and has connected interested clients and partners to us. Exor and Intel have commonly promoted solutions at trade fairs and virtual events. As a result, we have already established important cooperative relationships with Intel’s partners and throughout the broader Intel ecosystem.

 

For more information about Exor International and its products, click here or contact Exor International directly.

 

 

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Published on Categories Cloud, CycloneTags
Steven Leibson

About Steven Leibson

Be sure to add the Intel Logic and Power Group to your LinkedIn groups. Steve Leibson is a Senior Content Manager at Intel. He started his career as a system design engineer at HP in the early days of desktop computing, then switched to EDA at Cadnetix, and subsequently became a technical editor for EDN Magazine. He’s served as Editor in Chief of EDN Magazine and Microprocessor Report and was the founding editor of Wind River’s Embedded Developers Journal. He has extensive design and marketing experience in computing, microprocessors, microcontrollers, embedded systems design, design IP, EDA, and programmable logic.