Echelon Speeds Migration to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) With its New IzoT™-Enabled Multiprotocol FT 6050 System on Chip

Support for multiple control protocols and flexible multi-drop wiring architecture lowers cost and simplifies integration of industrial devices in the IIoT

SAN JOSE, Calif. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — January 21, 2014 — Echelon Corporation (NASDAQ: ELON), the world’s leading control networking platform provider, announced its FT 6050 system on chip (SoC), a single-chip solution for providing reliable, cost-effective, flexible wired IP connectivity for communities of devices in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The IP-enabled, multiprotocol, multi-drop FT 6050 is part of Echelon’s IzoT™ platform for the IIoT, the next generation of the world’s most successful industrial control platform based on Echelon’s ISO-standard Free Topology (FT) architecture.

“With almost a billion devices currently connected to control networks in industrial settings, application designers are seeking an effective, safe and simple migration path to the IIoT,” said Ron Sege, chairman and CEO of Echelon. “Echelon’s IzoT platform and new FT 6050 SoC let companies build IIoT solutions that interoperate with existing devices while also supporting new IP-enabled ones—which reduces their SKU counts, broadens application support and lets them get their products to market more quickly and safely.”

The multiprotocol IzoT software running on the FT 6050 SoC provides designers a fast, low-risk path to market for IIoT products that are reliable and both backward- and forward-compatible with the full range of communications, transport and control networking standards. As an example, designers can use the IzoT-enabled FT 6050 to create and deploy building automation applications that simultaneously support BACnet®, LonWorks® and IP-enabled devices.

“Echelon’s IzoT-enabled FT 6050 chip will make it easier and more cost-effective for both existing and new industrial devices to join the burgeoning IIoT—while providing industrial-grade reliability and the maturity of proven industrial control networking protocols such as LonWorks,” said Varun Nagaraj, senior vice president and general manager, Internet of Things, Echelon Corp. “The FT 6050 is designed to provide a better wired alternative than either RS-485 or Ethernet for industrial applications that can benefit from IP enablement. Quite simply, the FT 6050 is the best chip for IP-based multi-drop wired industrial communications.”

“The IIoT is drawing attention and investment from major technology providers throughout the industry, and Echelon is positioned to provide important foundational solutions for this emerging market,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy. “The kind of control networking expertise that Echelon has amassed will be crucial for turning the promise of the IIoT into tangible, transformative solutions.”

Sized appropriately and built specifically for IIoT applications, the FT 6050 SoC integrates a Neuron® 4-processor core with Free Topology transceiver. Each of the four processor cores has a dedicated role: interrupt handling, lower-level protocol support, upper-level protocol support and support for the application itself. This division of processing labor, combined with the networking flexibility of FT, allows industrial developers to run the same application with or without IP enablement, and using their choice of preferred communications protocols (e.g., LonWorks, BACnet, Modbus).

FT a Superior Transport Option for Industrial IoT Wired Connectivity

Although wireless communications dominate in consumer settings, industrial environments still rely heavily on wired communications. The reasons that wired connectivity will persist in industrial environments include:

  • Rock-solid reliability even in harsh (noisy, dusty, wet, corrosive) environments
  • The ability to operate without human interaction
  • Convenient connectivity configurations, including multi-drop wiring
  • Hardened security

Within the industrial wired communications world, RS-485 and Ethernet dominate. Both these link options, however, present challenges for industrial applications, especially in moving to IP.

RS-485 has low noise immunity which compromises its reliability, is prone to wiring misconfigurations, and requires a companion processor to handle the constant interrupts from an IP network, adding to the cost of the device. Ethernet has high cost per node and is inappropriate for the unstructured and multi-drop topologies which are the most common in industrial environments.

FT offers higher reliability than RS-485, lower cost than Ethernet and more topology flexibility than either of those link options. Echelon’s FT 6050 product builds on the FT advantages with its multicore processor to make it the best available product for building and operating IP-enabled industrial applications and for enabling more devices to become part of the IIoT.

“While we believe that FT is the ideal choice for wired connectivity and the FT 6050 is the best single chip option for developing a wired IIoT device, we also recognize that developers need a range of wired and wireless options. Consequently, we have designed our IzoT platform to span multiple link choices. Echelon’s IzoT platform can be used to develop IIoT devices that can run on any processor and use any underlying communication option,” said Nagaraj. “Developers using the IzoT platform as their ubiquitous development environment can choose FT, RS-485, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or other wireless choices as appropriate for specific applications.”

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