Balancing Power and Form Factor – Industrial PCs vs PLCs, Part 3
Today's IPCs combine optimum computing power with flexibility in compact, ruggedized housings
PC-based machine controllers from Beckhoff have much more flexibility in form factor than other options. Beckhoff offers traditional cabinet-mounted Industrial PCs, DIN rail-mounted Embedded PCs and pole/arm-mounted and cabinet-mounted Panel PCs. Regardless of the chosen form factor, the TwinCAT control platform can be used across the diverse hardware portfolio.
The CPUs in the Beckhoff Embedded PC lineup, as an example, vary from the single-core ARM Cortex™ M7 processors in the CX7000 Embedded PC line to Intel® Core™ i7 processors in the CX2040 Embedded PC series. Beckhoff also offers many-core control technology in hardware and software. By leveraging Intel® Xeon® technology, it is now possible to have a 40-core control platform with the many-core C6670 Control Cabinet Industrial Server from Beckhoff, which represents the absolute pinnacle of PC-based control performance.
The ultra-compact C60xx series from Beckhoff also boasts low space requirements, universal usability and flexible mounting options. This line starts with the fanless C6015 ultra-compact IPC equipped with Intel® Atom™ processors with up to four cores, and it then adds the same capabilities in the C6017 while also integrating a UPS and increasing the number of interfaces. The C6030 and C6032, with even more standard interfaces, can handle operations with maximum power requirements through the use of Intel® Core™ i processors of the 6th and 7th generation, offering up to 3.6 GHz per core with 4 cores. Finally, the new C6025 delivers the high computing performance of the Intel® Core™ i series in a fanless, small-form-factor device.
Of course, as technology advances, so will the number of processor cores. With this in mind, TwinCAT 3 automation software from Beckhoff is already capable of running on PC hardware with up to 256 processor cores – when the technology becomes available.
Want to learn more about the benefits of PC-based controllers in automation? Contact your local Beckhoff sales engineer today.
Eric Reiner is the IPC Product Manager for Beckhoff Automation LLC.
A version of this article previously appeared in Control Engineering magazine.