April 8th, 2013 by
By Andy The
Traditionally real-time control systems were built on proprietary hardware such as DSPs and FPGAs. General purpose processors combined with a general purpose OS simply didn’t have the horsepower required to meet real-time PLC needs.
That’s no longer the case.
Today Intel’s powerful multi-core processors can readily be found on standard commercial off the shelf (COTS) motherboards. By using COTS hardware, developers can realize cost savings not available when using custom DSP boards without giving up anything on the power/performance side.
Operating systems have also come a long way. Modern users demand powerful and intuitive HMIs to monitor and control systems. While Linux provides a good interface, the non standard tooling with Linux forces users to develop and maintain their own custom HMI.
Most developers prefer the standardization, robustness, and feature set inherent in Microsoft Windows. Windows not only uses the most widely known IDE (Visual Studio), but it also has the most HMI support available for the development of attractive and powerful interfaces.
When it comes to the real-time processing in a PLC, Windows Embedded is a streamlined versions of the full Windows OS that enables high speed processing. And, for users requiring even more real-time performance than Windows can deliver, there are 3rd party real-time extensions that, when combined with Windows, can satisfy the requirements of even the most extreme real-time needs.
By combining Intel’s multi-core COTS performance with the power and efficiency of the Windows Embedded operating system and 3rd party plug-ins, users get a real-time platform for software-based PLC development that is cost effective, high performing, and powerful.