Embedded PC Delivers Power

Machine Builders Aim to Satisfy Users Who Are Adamant in Their Desire for a Reliable, Robust Controller That Provides the Needed Level of Power and the Stability of a Solid-State Device with No Moving Parts

Machine builders and their customers share many common design and performance objectives. Lower hardware costs, reductions in operating and utility costs and smaller machine control footprints, among others, are squarely in the automation design sights of both camps.

One important element of that overall design approach aims to satisfy users who are adamant in their desire for a reliable, robust controller that provides the needed level of power and the stability of a solid-state device with no moving parts.

To furnish these performance characteristics in powerful embedded PCs for automation and control, Beckhoff Automation announced the North American launch of its CX5000. Built around energy-saving Intel Atom technology, CX5000 delivers up to 1.6 GHz processing power and is designed with a rugged magnesium housing—the first such embedded PC from Beckhoff Automation. The magnesium housing is very lightweight, offering improved mechanical stability and resistance to EMC.

Beckhoff says it combines PC technology and modular I/O in the CX series of embedded PCs to offer a device series that combines the worlds of industrial PCs and hardware PLCs, and is suitable for medium-performance control tasks including PLC and NC PTP.

The DIN-rail-mountable CX5000 PAC features a fanless design with a maximum power loss of 12.5 W. "This new automation concept is made possible by the latest processor generation from Intel, the Atom," says Product Manager Corey McAtee. "CX5000 also offers great potential for cost optimizations. As an added benefit, the Atom processor means CX5000 is around 30% less expensive than other devices with comparable performance."
CX5010 is equipped with a 1.1 GHz Intel Atom processor, while CX5020 features a 1.6 GHz processor. "This new CX series is positioned in the mid-range of Beckhoff’s scalable embedded PC family, which includes five CPU classes," says McAtee. "In terms of performance, CX5000 is positioned between the well-established CX1010 and CX1020 series."

With dimensions of 3.9x3.9x3.6-in., including the power supply unit and I/O interface, the DIN-rail-mountable and fanless devices feature a direct I/O connection to Beckhoff bus terminals or EtherCat terminals. In contrast to the other CX device families, the CX5000 series has a fixed number of system interfaces. EtherCat terminals offer a range of expansion options, including integration of fieldbus masters or slaves such as those for DeviceNet, Profibus, Profinet and CANopen.

Two independent Gigabit Ethernet ports and four USB 2.0 interfaces are available on the CX5000. "A Beckhoff control panel or a standard DVI monitor can be connected easily to the DVI-D interface," says McAtee. "An interchangeable CompactFlash card is used as the boot and storage medium leading to a completely solid-state device. The operating system can be Windows CE or Windows XP Embedded. TwinCat automation software from Beckhoff transforms a CX5000 system into a powerful PLC and motion control system that can be used with or without visualization."

With the CX5000 PAC, adds McAtee, Beckhoff Automation has brought DIN-rail-mounted controllers into the energy-saving world of Intel Atom, "where machine builders and manufacturers will realize lower hardware cost, lower utility costs, cabinet space reductions and more. Our users also can depend on the reliability of a robust controller that delivers an outstanding level of power and also stability based on a solid-state device design."

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