Real Time Ethernet protocol for the I/O level from TI

By Frank Thomas

Industry Trends

Texas Instruments introduced a device for high speed Ethernet data communication called SORTE (Simple Open Real Time Ethernet). On the SPS IPC Drives show they demonstrated the capabilities of the data interface by applying it to a CNC with 4 connected motor encoders.

CNC cycle times as low as 4 µsec

With SORTE TI challenges the established cycle times of Ethernet based fieldbus protocols, for example 31.25 µsec for Profinet IRT v2.3. With SORTE TI reports cycle times as low as 4 µsec can be achieved.

What has been the strategic goal for TI to introduce such a data interface into a competitive landscape? Until now the established market was divided between digital encoder interfaces like EnDat or DriveCliQ on one side and IEEE’s TSN for real time applications over Ethernet on the other hand.

TI sorte

SORTE versus TSN?

According to TI, the TSN capability for Ethernet is targeted at controller to controller communication and controller to cloud communication rather than at high-speed communication to the I/O level with the cycle times SORTE provides. Yet ARC advises to keep an open mind. While there are no implementations yet for TSN in multi axis high speed motion control applications available, some test-evaluations are ongoing or scheduled.

Open source code

With SORTE TI wants to demonstrate the powerful features of its latest hardware. The protocol operates on the programmable real-time unit and industrial communication subsystem (PRU-ICSS), an industrial peripheral of the company’s Sitara and KeyStone processors. SORTE operates exclusively on the PRU-ICSS; therefore, the ARM Cortex-A8, A9 or A15 processors – depending on the device family – are available for industrial applications.

SORTE is available free of charge as source code for implementations on TI processors. TI offers TI Designs for implementation of SORTE on processors with PRU-ICSS. The SORTE firmware source code is part of TI Designs and the processor SDK RTOS.

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