Profibus control module
ASIC Gate Array reduces cost and guarantees supply
Technologies used

Digital ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    31 Electrical Equipment
    333 Industrial process control equipment
Weidmüller Interface (WI), a company with 1140 employees, develops and produces interface modules used for automation solutions. The product portfolio ranges from electro-mechanical components like terminals and connectors (interfacing just with wires) to I/O modules that communicate via fieldbus.

One of the company's products which is sold in high quantities is a field bus I/O module. Before the Application Experiment its main component, the fieldbus controller, had to be purchased from a direct competitor, the price was relatively high. Thus, the technical objective of the Application Experiment was to replace this component by an own ASIC having exactly the functionality needed in WI's I/O modules. This makes WI independent on its competitor and results in lower manufacturing costs. In this way the main goal of the Application Experiment was met: to increase Weidmüller's market share and turnover in this market segment by reducing the price of the product WINbloc which is sold worldwide it is used in PROFIBUS applications to interconnect terminals, machines or other participants in complex production networks.

Before the Application Experiment (AE) WI had know-how and experience in the design of PCBs, the development of circuits with discrete electronic components (up to micro- and fieldbus-controllers) as well as hardware and software for standard fieldbus systems (e.g. PROFIBUS, CAN, LON).

Within the Application Experiment, basic knowledge in the management of digital ASIC projects was transferred to Weidmüller. From the technical point of view, WI's specialists learned the top level design of digital systems with VHDL and automatic synthesis, but also gate level design methodologies and test methods. In parallel, the involved specialists got an overview of available design tools.

The main lessons learned concern management problems to evaluate design tools and libraries, but also best practice in VHDL based top level design suitable for automatic synthesis.

The designed ASIC realises a PROFIBUS-DP interface plus additional functionality. Compa-red with the competing component, only the necessary features have been implemented, i.e. the ASIC has a reduced functionality, but an optimised structure and a lower power consumption, a smaller package and a better EMC behaviour.

Thus, the major benefits of the AE are the cost savings for our product and the improvement of the competitive situation. Last not least, an ASIC design group was established in the development department.

The total costs up to the prototype stage were 92 kECU, the duration of the project was 12 months which included a delay of 5 months due to difficulties with tools and libraries, some unforeseen consistency problems in the fieldbus standards and higher design effort resulting from additional iteration cycles and an intermediate FPGA prototype.. For the industrialisation, a second chiprun outside the EUROPRACTICE MPW Services was necessary resulting in additional industrialisation costs of 75 kECU for the electronic part and additional 30kECU for changing of WINbloc module.

Assuming a product life time of 3 years, the total ROI of the FUSE investment will be about 500%, with a payback period will be 6 months.
Weidmüller Interface GmbH & Co. (WI)
Electronic Competence Center
Ohmstraße 9
D-32758 Detmold

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Digital ASIC technology provided Weidmüller Interface GmbH & Co. (WI) with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
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