FPGA’s Tackle Motor Control System
The need for more power efficient control of multiple motors has resulted in the inclusion of microcontroller and mixed signal devices into the fabric of FPGAs.
The world of electronics is reintegrating itself into the world of mechanical control systems. One good example of this trend is the inclusion of microcontrollers with analog mixed signal functionality into modern FPGAs devices. This mixing of electronic technologies enables increased programmability into the surprising complex world of mechanical motors and motion control applications.
Is there really a market for such mundane devices as motors? You bet – thanks in no small measure to the “green” movement for more power efficient use of electronic and related mechanical systems. Many of yesterday’s big, power inefficient motors are being replaced by very power efficient yet mechanically strong motors in industries from industrial controls to medical devices.
The big challenge with motors is in the control of the speed and torque of multiple motors (see figure from ESC – San Jose, CA). That is one reason why the combination of microcontrollers and mixed signal devices into the programmable fabric of an FPGA looks so promising, e.g., Actel’s recently announced SmartFusion technology. [Actel Fuses Together Digital And Analog ]
As motor control technology becomes more important, electronic engineers may want to brush up on their understanding of mechanical systems. And vice versa.