Product News: Future-proof chip connects devices to the IIoT

Jul 30, 2018

Hilscher announces the netX 90, an addition to its netX family of single-chip network controller ASICs. The chip addresses the fact that a large proportion of slave devices in use today will have to be replaced and/or updated if cyber risk threats are to be countered adequately for cloud-based and IIoT applications, according to Hilscher.

smart industry iot iiot industrial internet of things digital transformationAccording to its maker, the netX 90 provides universal connectivity for all popular Real Time Ethernets (RTEs), is "IoT-ready" with support for OPC UA and MQTT, and can interface to all modern sensor buses. "netX 52, its predecessor, was already a powerful interface for sensors and actuators," said Nico Mäding, Hilscher netX business development manager. "With netX 90 we've incorporated low-level drivers for even more sensor protocols, including encoder types such as BiSS and EnDAT 2.2, and our IO-Link capability has been enhanced too."

netX 90 is a dual-processor chip with all the network connectivity common to Hilscher products, including firmware updating of protocols. It’s divided into two halves: 1) RTE and fieldbus protocols are supported on the network-facing side while 2) device-specific protocols (I/O, EnDat, Biss, and many other peripherals) are supported on the applications (slave-facing) side. In between are some common features such as on-chip diagnostics.

“A key benefit to the netX 90 is its added security,” says Phil Marshall, Hilscher North America CEO. As well as secure boot procedures underpinning a software “chain of trust,” there is a wealth of hardware-based encryption technology built-in, and an architecture that enables designers to create IEC 62443-compliant layered security solutions, he notes. “We've separated the network communications from the application to isolate malicious cyber-activity and we've even included hardware acceleration to ensure netX 90-connected slaves meet latest 'fast connect' specifications,” adds Mäding.

“Never before has a slave interface offered so much,” opines Marshall. “This is truly a secure ‘system-on-a-chip’ solution for slave devices. We honestly believe netX 90 can support anything that IIoT and Industrie 4.0 can throw at it, including MQTT, OPC UA and even Time Sensitive Networking [TSN]. To our knowledge netX 90 is the first chip designed specifically for industrial devices that includes the security required for next-generation Industrie 4.0 capability.”

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