Real-time qualified Industrial PCs
Today, more and more industrial customers are using PC (Personal Computer) technology for high end sophisticated real-time control applications. These computers have high CPU processing capabilities in relation to their costs when compared to software and hardware development for dedicated platforms.
Typical applications where such PCs are used are:
- CNC and Motion Control
- Robotics and PLC applications
- Medical applications like surgical robots or computer tomographs
- Real-time data acquisition
Regular PCs are designed for standard office use while such industrial applications need hardware which is more suitable to their respective environment: Industrial PCs (IPCs)!
These Industrial PCs fulfil various requirements like mechanical robustness, power consumption, connectivity, storage.
However, some control systems require hard real-time latency predictability while the processors of the x86 architecture today have sophisticated power saving mechanisms which may have serious impact to the requested determinism. These CPUs also have a special protection and correction mode known as system management mode (SMM). This mode is not traceable by the operating system and is a source of unpredictability in the system. Also other features that may be controlled in the BIOS may have an influence to the IPC’s real-time behavior like Hyper Threading or GPU settings.
Thus, one of the IPC selection criteria will be the real-time capabilities of the respective solution.
Especially in the case applications have the need to run the Microsoft Windows operating system in conjunction with a real-time extension or real-time hypervisor software solution, this becomes an important and sometimes challenging selection criteria.
For that purpose, acontis has developed a standard scheme to determine and compare the real-time capabilities of Industrial PCs: https://developer.acontis.com/measurement-setup-7.1.00.01/articles/1027.html.
An excerpt of different IPCs from various vendors have been pre-validated for real-time use.
Appropriate BIOS settings as well as real-time results are published here: https://developer.acontis.com/realtime-support-pre-validated-hardware.html
Contact acontis for more information and help on this topic: firstname.lastname@example.org