Synchronizing Mechatronic Systems in Real Time Using FPGAs and Industrial Ethernet Communications

Traditional centralized I/O systems are inadequate for building large machines. Running high-speed I/O lines over long distances increases cabling requirements and errors due to signal noise with higher frequencies. Industrial Ethernet solves many of these problems by providing an accelerated and deterministic methodology to manage I/O systems, sensors, and actuators for high-frequency applications such as motion control. The FPGAs provide a protocol for real-time deterministic jitter-free Ethernet communications, as well as reliable deterministic synchronization capabilities over large distances.

This paper will outline some of the major Industrial Ethernet communications protocols in use today, and then present an example implementation of an open source protocol (Ethernet POWERLINK) implemented on an FPGA.