Emerging Technologies

Renesas’ RZ/N2L MPUs for Industrial Ethernet Simplify implementation of network functionality in industrial equipment

Renesas Electronics Corporation announced the RZ/N2L microprocessor units (MPUs) for Industrial Ethernet communication that make it easy to add network functionality to industrial equipment and devices. The RZ/N2L complies with many industry-standard specifications and protocols to facilitate the development of industrial automation devices that require real-time capabilities. The new products support the increasingly popular Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) Ethernet standard that ensures real-time communication. Equipped with an integrated TSN-compliant 3-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and an EtherCAT slave controller, the new devices also support all major industrial network communication protocols, such as EtherCAT, PROFINET RT, EtherNet/IP, and OPC UA, as well as the new PROFINET IRT. 

By using the RZ/N2L as a companion chip complementing the host CPU, customers can add Industrial Ethernet functionality to their equipment without major changes to its internal configuration. This enables customers to develop industrial equipment utilizing rapid and precise synchronized control for factory automation. 

“Revising the full design of equipment in order to implement Industrial Ethernet functionality creates a substantial development burden in terms of both time and cost,” said Hitoshi Shirakabe, Vice President of the Industrial Automation Business Division at Renesas. “To address this challenge, Renesas developed the RZ/N2L, which is optimized as an add-on to existing systems. I am confident that it will enable customers to quickly deploy cutting-edge industrial networks with minimal system modifications.”

“I anticipate that the RZ/N2L, which supports the fast-growing TSN standard, will further accelerate the spread of Ethernet in the factory automation market,” said Dietmar R. Franke, CEO/CFO at port industrial automation GmbH. “We are planning to release GOAL middleware for the RZ/N2L targeting multi-protocol real-time communication to help our customers implement Industrial Ethernet communication technology to their devices.”

Optimized as a Dedicated Networking Companion Chip 

The RZ/N2L has both parallel and serial host interfaces that connect to the host CPU for external applications. This allows direct connection between the RZ/N2L and the CPU for high-speed access. In addition, the external CPU can directly access communication data stored in the system RAM of the RZ/N2L. Since the RZ/N2L can perform network processing independently of the external CPU, Industrial Ethernet can be added to systems without the need for major changes to the existing application software.

Remote I/O, Sensor Hub, Inverter, and Gateway Supported on a Single Chip

RZ/N2L is built around the Arm® Cortex®-R52 with a maximum operating frequency of 400 MHz. It integrates large capacity ECC RAM and peripheral functions such as a delta-sigma interface, A/D converter, and PWM timer, allowing the RZ/N2L to be used as a standalone device to develop applications such as remote I/O, sensor hubs, and inverters. The UART and CAN functions enable the RZ/N2L to serve as a gateway for converting from a fieldbus based on RS485 or CAN to Industrial Ethernet.

Functional Safety Support

The RZ/N2L can also be used as an MPU that supports functional safety. Renesas’ functional safety solutions such as self-diagnostic software for the RZ/N2L, functional safety platform software soon to be offered by Renesas and secure networks can reduce the time and workload associated with development. Renesas plans to release a functional safety solution for the RZ/N2L in 2023.

Winning Combinations with RZ/N2L

Renesas has released two new Winning Combinations with working PoC (proof of concept) boards using the RZ/N2L. These solutions use complementary Renesas devices that work together seamlessly. The Gigabit Industrial Ethernet SOM Solution uses Renesas power management ICs, photocouplers, EEPROM and other mixed signal devices to provide a configurable industrial Ethernet in SOM + Carrier board architecture. This solution has two Gbit Ethernet interfaces and Pmod & Arduino interfaces to build a system with different peripherals. It also uses a single configurable power supply to support different RZ MPUs. The 220V AC Servo Solution integrates motor control and EtherCAT to provide high-speed and high-precision motor control through time-sensitive industrial Ethernet communications. It includes a physically isolated motor encoder, power drive and system control blocks with high degree interconnect. Using this monolithic solution helps reduce bill of materials cost, when compared to a two-chip system that handles motor control and EtherCAT separately.  

Renesas provides these solutions together with reference circuits, Gerber, and sample program code to accelerate product development. Renesas Winning Combinations have technically vetted system architecture from mutually compatible devices that work together seamlessly to bring an optimized low-risk design for a faster time to market.

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