MEI: Synqnet update, new 64-bit controller

SynqNet—a full digital, high-speed (100 Mbps) synchronous motion control network for intelligent multi-axis servo systems—has come a long way since its introduction in July 2001, by Motion Engineering Inc.

By Control Engineering Staff January 29, 2004
SynqNet continues to operate in case of cable breakage or other fault at any node—when configured in a ring topology.

SynqNet —a full digital, high-speed (100 Mbps) synchronous motion control network for intelligent multi-axis servo systems—has come a long way since its introduction in July 2001, by Motion Engineering Inc . (MEI). During the network’s first full production year in 2003, more than 30,000 motion axes were shipped using SynqNet, said MEI in a mid-December meeting with Control Engineering . And SynqNet was designed specifically as a motion network.

This growth follows the formation of a support organization named SynqNet.org, in 2001, and the joining of the first five members to supply network capable servo drive products in 2002. Today, SynqNet comprises nine partner companies, among them Advanced Motion Controls , Danaher Motion/Kollmorgen , Sanyo Denki , and Yaskawa .

Marshall Matheson, MEI director of marketing communications, puts SynqNet firmly into the non-proprietary network category, because of its ‘true interoperability.’ The network uses standard components, such as CATV wiring and RJ45 connectors for interfacing servo drives, controllers, and I/O modules. SynqNet’s physical layer is based on IEEE 802.3 standard and 100base-T silicon; MEI designed the data link and application layers. Field-programmable gate arrays rather than ASICs are used.

A key feature of the network is ‘self-healing fault tolerance’ to provide the reliability needed in high-performance machine systems. It’s one of requirements coming from machine builders, explains Matheson. In case of a lost connection between nodes, SynqNet reroutes to a second Backup Data Channel within two servo cycles and continues to operate in real time (in a ring configuration). The fault is automatically identified, isolated, and the application alerted to take appropriate action.

Motion Engineering recently introduced 64-bit ZMP-SynqNet controller designed to operate on the network at servo update rates as high as 48 kHz. Production shipments for ZMP controller are slated for early Q204.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, fbartos@reedbusiness.com