Develop acceleration engines for intelligent industrial automation

Following the launch of sensAI for low-power network edge AI in 2018, Lattice Semiconductor will announce mVision 1.0 and Sentry 1.0 for low-power embedded vision and the root of trust for network protection restoration in 2020, and subsequent upgrades After the version mVision 2.0 and Sentry 2.0, a few days ago, a collection of Automate solutions for intelligent industrial systems has also been officially launched.

What does Automate bring?

Similar to the architecture of sensAI, mVision, and Sentry solutions, the underlying hardware platform of Automate is based on the Certus-NX motor control development board and the MachXO3D-based hardware security development board. On top of this is a series of IP cores (Ether-Connect, CNN processing Unit, PDM data collector), software tools (RADIANT, DIAMOND, Propel, RISC-V+ hardware co-processing), reference design and demonstration and custom design services, together constitute a complete Automate solution.

At the reference design and demonstration layer, Automate includes multi-axis motor control, predictive maintenance, real-time industrial network, hardware security, and other aspects, which facilitate the rapid development of common industrial applications:

Extensible motor control solutions accelerate the development of flexible motor control systems, including GUI-based user interface tools for system monitoring and control.

Predictive maintenance-Minimize downtime by monitoring multiple motors in the system.

Embedded real-time network using Lattice Nexus FPGA as the central controller to implement scalable sensing and control systems for various devices.

Network protection and recovery-realize the hardware root of trust, real-time detection, protection, and recovery from firmware-based attacks.

The easy-to-use software design method-Automate supports Lattice Propel, uses an embedded RISC-V processor, and simplifies the development of industrial automation systems through software and hardware co-processing.

The software update is similar to the previous program. In addition to supporting easy-to-use Lattice Radiant and Diamond design tools, Automate also supports the use of RISC-V soft-core CPUs through the Lattice Propel design environment. The latest design tool based on the graphical user interface (GUI) can use drag and drop to quickly deploy and configure RISC-V processor-based designs. The latest version of the Propel design tool supports the new industrial IP cores (Ether-Connect, CNN processing unit, and PDM data collector) included in Automate.

In addition to simplifying system construction by dragging and dropping, developers can also mount the required functional IP modules on the Lattice RISC-V CPU core, and then build the system through a visual connection, and edit the executable through the C code editor C code, which simplifies the development process. This reduces the need for FPGA professional background knowledge in one fell swoop, and developers can develop solutions even if they do not have relevant professional backgrounds.

Automate application examples

According to data from market research organization Fortune Business Insights, as of 2027, the global industrial automation market is expected to reach 326.14 billion U.S. dollars. The Allied Market Research report pointed out that from 2020 to 2027, the scale of the global robot market will increase rapidly at a compound annual growth rate of 13.5%. Therefore, Automate's application focus will focus on the five major areas of motor control, predictive maintenance, real-time network interconnection, functional safety, and network restoration protection to meet the low power consumption, low latency, and precise predictability of next-generation industrial automation systems. , High stability, flexible interface, and other key features.

Expandable multi-axis motor control scheme

Many electric motors are usually deployed in industrial scenarios. A suitable control system can significantly improve the efficiency and operating life cycle of these motors, but such control systems often require high-speed and accurate sampling of the motor's voltage and current waveforms. FPGAs are very suitable for this task. Compared with microcontrollers, the number of motors they handle can be at least doubled, and they can provide higher performance than microcontrollers with extremely low power consumption.

In the LatTIce FPGA expandable multi-axis motor control solution shown in the figure below, the FPGA is responsible for collecting feedback information from the motor and controlling the motor by generating PWM waves. Due to the fast response speed, high flexibility, and better positioning, precision, efficiency, and precise control of FPGA devices, they can not only support various types of motors but also achieve better closed-loop control. Compared with MCU, the number of motors that LatTIce FPGA can control is twice that of MCU, and the power consumption can be as low as 7mW, which is far less than the 100mW of MCU.

Predictable maintenance with AI capabilities

When maintaining equipment such as motors, traditional methods include passive or active maintenance. Passive maintenance generally means that the machine continues to run until it fails, and then personnel are sent to diagnose and solve the problem; active maintenance is essential to repair the machine before it is damaged, which is commendable, but it is also time-consuming and expensive. In contrast, predictive maintenance uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to monitor the operation of the machine, so as to grasp the dynamic trends and abnormal conditions of the machine and provide "alerts" to the maintenance team before the machine stops working. Interestingly, predictive maintenance can be achieved only by monitoring the voltage and current values ​​of the motor, without any other sensors (heat, vibration, audio sensors, etc.).

Therefore, combined with the sensAI solution, Automate also introduces predictable maintenance with AI functions. Simply put, it is to judge whether the motor is in a stable, metastable, or unstable state through information such as good/bad waveform, high/low signal stability, etc., which is helpful for early warning of motor performance degradation. The continued use of the motor is another major feature of this solution. In traditional applications, unpredictable maintenance requires a fixed time to be tested and reused after confirming that there is no problem. However, by introducing predictable AI functions, downtime including human intervention will be greatly reduced.

Realize embedded real-time sensing and control through Ether-Connect

The Ether-Connect embedded real-time sensing and control system is a newly developed function. It uses devices and solutions to reduce the difference in synchronization between devices below the microsecond level, so as to better control the synchronization of multiple motors at the same time. Take Ether-Connect IP as an example, it can use the low power consumption of the device to achieve real-time network interconnection, while using a centralized main controller to manage multiple BLDC motors. The specific number of support depends on the minimum refresh rate of the entire system. At present, 16 control boards can be connected in series, or even longer.

In addition to supporting the EtherConnect private protocol, the solution also supports other industry-standard protocols such as EtherCAT. The high-performance EtherCAT servo drive solution launched by Lattice in conjunction with Renesas Electronics and China Electric Port is the most representative. This solution uses Renesas MPU+LatTIce FPGA dual-chip architecture, supports EtherCAT bus technology and multi-axis applications, and has the following three core advantages:

Advantage 1: FPGA control current loop, high performance, high precision

In the traditional scheme, due to the complex algorithms of the position loop and the speed control loop, the calculation is slow and the current loop control needs to be updated quickly in real-time, it is difficult to balance these two different algorithms in a single processor chip. The dual-chip architecture adopted by Renesas MPU+Lattice FPGA can place the current loop control in the FPGA for hardware acceleration, greatly reducing the delay, making the current loop faster, and improving accuracy. Not only that, but FPGA can also share the work of the processor, thereby improving overall performance.

Multi-axis servo system using FPGA hardware current loop and EtherCAT bus architecture to realize real-time synchronization of multi-axis

Advantage 2: Realize single/multi-axis applications at a better cost

Compared with common SoC and DSP solutions on the market, FPGA has advantages in realizing multi-axis synchronous control, current loop control, PWM control, and output, and can realize multi-axis control at the optimal cost. For example, DSP usually only supports single-axis motor systems. If you want to implement dual/multi-axis motor systems, additional chips are needed; SoC can implement 1-6 axes, but the cost is higher. Lattice FPGA can be flexibly matched with different models, can realize 1-6 axis motor control, and has more advantages in cost;

Servo solution comparison: RZ/T1+Lattice FPGA vs SoC vs DSP

Advantage 3: Flexible with different configurations

Renesas RZ/T1 series chips are compatible with a full range of pins, and different models can be flexibly selected according to different functions/frequencies.

Hardware Security Reference Design

Automate mainly uses XO3D's chip characteristics to achieve hardware-level protection, so as to protect firmware before, during, and during normal movement. At the same time, it can also verify, monitor, and protect the firmware. Once the firmware is found to be attacked, it can be quickly restored to its original state.

MachXO3D is a secure FPGA that can implement a hardware root of trust. It uses hardware root of trust and dual-boot features to enhance security control applications. The new immutable embedded security module can provide a hardware root of trust and pre-verified encryption functions, such as ECDSA, ECIES, AES, SHA, HMAC, TRNG, unique security ID, and public/private key generation, strengthen the control function. At the same time, Lattice upgraded user flash memory to 2700kbit and provided commercial-grade, industrial-grade, and AEC-Q100-compliant automotive-grade products.


The Automate solution collection implements Lattice's continuous product layout idea of ​​creating an "application-based solution stack", and includes all the resources needed by embedded system designers to accelerate the development of industrial automation applications. The core goal is to use software tools. , Industrial IP cores, modular hardware development boards, and software programmable reference designs and demonstrations providing industrial automation system designers with the tools needed to evaluate, develop and deploy FPGA-based programmable industrial automation applications, and accelerate the factory automation Product development process.