SAVAGE, Minnesota, April 28, 2015 – As modern manufacturing advances toward the implementation of Smart Factories, “many-core controllers” will play a central role in the future of machine control and in the realization of Industry 4.0 concepts. To meet the rising connectivity and control requirements of Smart Factories and implement increasingly intelligent machines and production systems, immensely powerful controllers such as the Beckhoff C6670 industrial server are becoming essential. To make the most effective use of this vast many-core computing performance, support from powerful software, such as the TwinCAT 3.1 automation platform, is a necessity.
While highly compatible in terms of hardware and software, computers with many-core architectures are notably different from conventional Industrial PCs (IPCs). They feature multiple processors, also referred to as “packages”, and each is equipped with several cores. Their memory architectures also provide a notable difference. One technique, known as NUMA (non-uniform memory access), provides each processor with its own dedicated memory. Beckhoff has implemented this innovative design with its C6670 industrial server that features two Intel® Xeon® packages, each offering 6, 12, or 18 cores and from 64 to 2,048 GB of RAM. This tremendous computing power can only be utilized effectively, however, if the performance of each core is fully leveraged by TwinCAT 3.1 software. The flagship control software from Beckhoff is capable of mapping the various machine and process workflows – highly suitable for parallelization and distribution of different tasks as function modules.
With TwinCAT, users can implement individual automation tasks in the form of modules. Written in PLC or C++ code, these machine modules are assigned to individual tasks within the TwinCAT system and executed in user-defined cycles. The tasks can then be simply distributed over the real-time cores.
To intelligently define the execution sequence, the individual tasks can be prioritized. Critical for reaching the highest level of system performance, the diagnostic functionality of TwinCAT 3.1 individually analyzes the load of each core. Cores can also be assigned exclusively to the TwinCAT runtime process, in which case they are referred to as “isolated” because they do not execute any Microsoft operating system functions along with the TwinCAT real-time system. This makes it easy to separate Windows processes from real-time processes.
Since TwinCAT 3.1 was designed as a future-proof solution to run on PC-based hardware with up to 256 processor cores, it offers the ability to run automation applications on the complete spectrum of available processors now and into the future. Depending on the amount of computing performance needed, the system designer can configure the appropriate number of cores for the respective real-time applications.
Together with TwinCAT 3.1 automation software, the C6670 industrial server from Beckhoff is the ideal platform to integrate condition monitoring and energy management functions into the control system. Coupled with options for adding PLC, motion control, robotics and CNC functions, the C6670 is well-equipped to meet the demanding requirements of Smart Factory and Industry 4.0 applications.