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The PMAC motion computer

Author : M Babb

04 September 2009

The Power PMAC rescues machine control designers from a classic dilemma: the choice between a dedicated controller that makes executing basic tasks easy but can limit the sophistication of what can be accomplished; or a general-purpose computing engine that permits the use of the full sophistication of modern programming languages that make it very difficult just to make simple movements.

Delta Tau PMAC motion controller
Delta Tau PMAC motion controller


Thanks to a new generation of embedded Power PC microprocessors, it has wide computational capabilities and a high level of peripheral integration. It can control up to 128 axes simultaneously,

The Power PMAC employs a full Linux operating system with a hard-real-time kernel, creating a complete general-purpose computing environment.

It also comes embedded with a complete motion and machine control software environment derived from Delta Tau´s existing PMAC and Turbo PMAC controllers.

Users have the choice between using the built-in algorithm and providing their own software, written in C or C++ and compiled with the public-domain GNU compiler. C programs can be written manually or generated from environments such as IEC-61131 or Matlab/Simulink™, as well as EPICS or other task-oriented programs.

The Power PMAC´s built-in script language for both motion sequences and general machine and I/O logic, automatically takes care of many issues that a standard language such as C does not: proper timing and pipelining of move sequences, simple or complex, automatic type matching of different variables (short-word and long-word, fixed-point and floating-point).

It also provides the advanced tools of a good integrated development environment (IDE) - editors, debuggers, project managers - that standard programming languages have. It also retains the ability to issue simple on-line commands directly, permitting the user to “converse” easily with the controller.

The Power PMAC supports the new 3rd-generation machine-interface ASIC, which has unprecedented speed, integration, and feature set. The ASIC supports quadrature encoders with hardware 1/T interpolation, as well as sinusoidal encoders and resolvers with hardware arctangent interpolation, and most of the common serial encoder protocols such as EnDat2.2TM and SSI, plus analogue, PWM, and pulse-and-direction outputs.

Some of Power PMAC´s outstanding features include:

* 800 MHz and 1GHz RISC processors with hardware floating-point engine, permitting programmed move block ;

* Rates of up to 5000 per second with controlled acceleration and jerk;

* 100-Base-T and 1000-Base T Ethernet TCP/IP communications with highly efficient DMA streaming;

* PCI Express, USB, SATA, and RS-232 interfaces to support keyboard, video, disk drive, and other interfaces;

* Making the PPMAC a complete, stand-alone RT Linux-based PC which is basically part of the system; and

* Built-in web server to support direct browser access for development, maintenance, and HMI


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