26. November 2020, 13:30 Uhr | Tobias Schlichtmeier
Augsburg-based embedded specialist Kontron will present new products at SPS Connect, which takes place entirely virtually from November 24th to 26th. The group will also be presenting its economic performance for the current quarter.
What is striking, is the slight growth that the group is achieving despite the Corona crisis. The turnover of the s&t-Group, of which Kontron is a member, rose by 11 percent to 836.4 million Euro, while the operating cash flow increased by around 45 million Euro. Kontron now employs over 5,000 people. The reason for the increasing number of employees is due to acquisitions, for example of Iskratel and Citycomp.
Last year, Kontron already took over the motherboard business of Fujitsu. To date, the company has drawn a positive conclusion about that. During the SPS, Kontron also announced new developments and products. All Raspberry Pi fans can look forward to the »Pi-Tron« and »PiXtend« series. With these modules, Kontron intends to completely lift the Raspberry into the industrial class and even conquer the PLC market. Kontron is working with CodeSys and Python to enable their customers with a comprehensive range of software.
New at Kontron is an updated version of the TSN Starter Kit. The software upgrade is already included in the current starter kit, but it can also be installed in existing soft PLCs, Box PCs, Gateways and Industrial Servers. From now on it also enables the TSN standards IEEE 802.1Qbu and 802.1CB.
With the help of the Starter Kit, users can set up TSN environments and integrate devices quickly and securely. A PCIe card with optimized DMA interface and eight channels controls the alignment of TSN priorities to minimize latency and jitter. The new IEEE 802.1Qbu standard makes it possible to give preference to packeges that require real-time responses, while 802.1CB ensures redundant frame transfer in safety-critical applications. Two different FPGA versions support shape-based or time-gate based prioritization. The starter kit is based on the industrial PC »KBox C-102-2« with an Intel Core i5 processor, a pre-integrated TSN network card and a switch. With the updated NETCONF daemon, which is based on the software tool »netopeer2«, a central data management is possible.
With the »FabEagle Connect«, Kontron offers a new software tool for its hardware applications, which is designed to connect manufacturing and IT – with the help of fast data transmission.
The structure of the tool is modular and individually configurable – with various interface functions. On the one hand, the cloud can be used to transfer data from manufacturing to big-data applications via REST, MQTT or AMQP. On the other hand, manufacturing and business processes can be connected via OPC-UA, SOAP, FTP and TCP/IP. Also, the scope includes interfaces for transferring data for Siemens, Beckhoff or Omron controllers. Various diagnostic functions ensure smooth operation, additional components for new interfaces can be created via C#. Furthermore, the user can integrate databases such as Microsoft SQL, Oracle or PostgreSQL with native or ODBC drivers. Data export as a file in binary or text format is possible as well as the aggregation of data via a configurable formula interpreter. This makes it possible to offset data from several sources against each other. Furthermore, a conversion of CSV data into JSON and back is possible.
Kontron's new AI platform consists of an M.2 module and a single board computer including software.
Kontron also picks up on a trend topic of the industry in 2020: Artificial Intelligence at the edge. For this purpose, the company is launching an AI platform. It consists of
a single board computer in the 2.5 inch Pico-ITX form factor with NXP's i.MX8M processor and
an M.2 module with a Google Coral accelerator chip for the TensorFlow Lite software
All TensorFlow Lite applications are available via the software – for fast and easy development of own AI applications. With the Coral Edge TPU (Tensor Processing Acceleration Unit) up to 4 TOPS (trillion operations per second), it needs 1 W for 2 TOPS, and 2 W for 4 TOPS. All current applications of TensorFlow Lite and pre-trained models can be downloaded free of charge. The platform is suitable for use in temperature ranges from -40 to +85 °C and supports Yocto Linux with the latest kernel. The platform will be available on additional Kontron systems starting in the first quarter of 2021.
Also new at Kontron are Web Panels based on current processors. The software is based on Kontron's »QIWI Toolkit«, the Web Panels on NXP i.MX8M mini processors and capacitive multi-touch technology – the displays are available in 7, 10.1 and 15.6 inch. Especially, they are designed for ambient temperatures from 0 to +55 °C. Customer-specific adaptations are possible via a modular design. The integrated QIWI software package provides the user with an HTML-5 browser. In addition, networks can be configured with the QIWI Toolkit, as well as display properties, time and language settings. It also provides a file and package manager. Users can customize language, font and company logo. The layout and size of the virtual keyboard, which also allows Asian, Arabic and Cyrillic letters to be captured, can also be adjusted.