BECKHOFF Automation has introduced a new industrial server with powerful software support provided by the TwinCAT 3.1 automation platform.
‘Many-core controllers’ are expected to play a central role in the future of machine control and realisation of Industry 4.0 concepts. High-performance controllers such as the Beckhoff C6670 industrial server are becoming indispensable to meeting the rising requirements of Smart Factories.
Many-core computers differ from conventional industrial PCs in their architecture as they feature several processors, each equipped with multiple cores. Their memory architectures also offer a notable difference with the NUMA or non-uniform memory access technique providing each processor with its own dedicated memory.
Beckhoff has implemented this design with its C6670 industrial server featuring two Intel Xeon packages, each offering 6, 12, or 18 cores and 64 to 2,048 GB of RAM. This immense computing power can only be utilised effectively if the performance of each core is fully leveraged by TwinCAT 3.1 software. The flagship control software from Beckhoff is capable of mapping the various machine and process workflows highly suitable for parallelisation and distribution of different tasks as function modules.
The powerful TwinCAT automation software enables users to implement individual automation tasks in the form of modules. Written in PLC or C++ code, these machine modules are assigned to individual tasks within the TwinCAT system and executed in user-defined cycles with the tasks then simply distributed over the real-time cores. To intelligently define the execution sequence, the individual tasks can be prioritised.
The diagnostic functionality of TwinCAT 3.1 analyses the load of each core individually, which is critical for reaching the highest level of system performance. Cores can also be assigned exclusively to the TwinCAT runtime process, in which case they are referred to as ‘isolated’ because they do not execute any Microsoft operating system functions along with the TwinCAT real-time system. This makes it easy to separate Windows processes from real-time processes.
Designed for up to 256 processor cores, TwinCAT 3.1 provides a future-proof solution, offering the ability to run automation applications on the complete spectrum of currently available processors. The system designer can configure the appropriate number of cores for the respective real-time applications based on the amount of computing performance required.