Hard real-time performance at lower costs than ever POWERLINK speeds up with Intel® controller

Ultra-low jitter is a key requirement for applications with dozens if not hundreds of synchronized axes to achieve top performance. Until recently, this requirement has not been supported by standard Ethernet controllers. The Intel® Ethernet Controller I210 is the first standard Ethernet controller to fully support the POWERLINK timing requirements. POWERLINK is a completely patent-free, vendor-independent and purely software-based communication system that delivers hard real-time performance.

“The fact that a standard Ethernet controller from a leading semiconductor manufacturer provides support for POWERLINK now makes implementation of this real-time network even easier and less expensive,” says Stefan Schönegger, managing director of the Ethernet POWERLINK Standardization Group (EPSG). “It also provides proof of its true vendor-independence, particularly when compared with networks that require proprietary ASICs.”

With the Intel Ethernet Controller I210, POWERLINK node connections do not have to be implemented in programmable hardware, further supporting the concept of open technology based on standard components. Standard Ethernet controllers will always be less costly than any custom solution since they are manufactured in high volumes. This reduces the hardware expenditure necessary for implementing hard real-time POWERLINK solutions.

Or as Dawn Moore, general manager of the Intel Networking Division puts it: "POWERLINK users can achieve high performance and predictability at lower price points with the Intel Ethernet Controller I210. Our standard Ethernet controller eliminates the need for expensive custom controllers, and will help customers enable POWERLINK solutions more quickly and cost-effectively."

With an extremely small footprint of 64-pin 9x9 mm QFD package, the Intel Ethernet Controller I210 reduces board size requirements. This adds to its cost reduction potential and makes implementing POWERLINK more viable in small field devices with limited space.