Designed for Dewesoft. Powered by ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and Microchip IStaX
Designed for Dewesoft. Powered by ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and Microchip IStaX

Network Switch for Data Acquisition System

The project in a nutshell: in collaboration with Microchip, we developed a turnkey industrial network switch for Dewesoft (Slovenia) to expand their product line. The project included hardware design powered by ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and Microsemi's integrated circuits, software development based on Microchip's IStaX package, and enclosure design with thermal modelling.

▪ Project Overview ▪

Client & Challenge

Dewesoft is headquartered in Slovenia and has offices in 16 countries worldwide. It develops and manufactures versatile and easy-to-use data acquisition systems for test and measurement engineers.

The company turned to us for industrial network switch design which included hardware and firmware development, enclosure design, and prototype production.

 

Solution

1. Interaction 

We formed a dedicated team with a project manager who was responsible for planning and execution of the entire project.

While working on the architectural solution, we communicated with the customer and chip vendors on a daily basis and then switched to weekly updates.  

2. Hardware Design 

Our team carried out a complex hardware design for an industrial network switch: we designed a single PCB, optimised the memory interfaces, and included the necessary connectors. 

The switch has the following features: 

  • 2 х 10Gbps Ethernet ports and 2 х SFP connectors; 
  • 16 х 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports and 16 circular connectors with custom power sourcing (PPoE for 12 of 16 ports); 
  • Ethernet switch with 2x10GbE ports and 16x2.5GbE ports; 
  • power input and unregulated power out. 

The switch is designed on one PCB board with an Ethernet switch IC VSC7546TSN-V/5CC inside. Microsemi created this IC for unmanaged switches and supported the AVB/TSN standards. 

The Ethernet PHY IC GPY215B1VI provides the physical layer of all the GbE ports. Each PHY has an SGMII/2.5GBASE-X interface from the switch side and a 4 MDI interface from the connector side. Each of the two 10GbE ports of the switch goes to the SFP connector via the SFI interface. 

Block diagram of the switch

Memory interfaces of the switch:

  • 512MB DDR4;
  • 4GB eMMC flash;
  • 128MB SPI NOR flash. 

Other interfaces: USB2.0 via USB-Type C connector as command line interface.

3. Industrial Design 

Our engineers used complex thermal modelling to ensure optimum performance and reliability of the device. The enclosure has three input airflow fans on the left side, and three output airflow fans on the right side. A special feature is the one-for-all PWM control mechanism, calculated based on the signals of one of the fans' round-per-minute signals. 

Power characteristics:

  • Input power: +9VDC to +60VDC, overvoltage, undervoltage, overcurrent protected.
  • Output PPoE power for 12 ports: +9VDC to +60VDC, overvoltage, undervoltage, and overcurrent protection. 

The device operation requirements: 

  • Ambient temperature: from -20ºC to +60ºC.
  • Humidity: from 5% to 90% non-condensing.
  • Shock and vibration: vibration sweep sinus (EN 60068-2-6:2008).
  • Vibration: random (EN 60721-3-2: 1997 - Class 2M2).
  • Shock: EN 60068-2-27:2009, MIL-STD-810D.
  • Immunity and emission: EN 61326-1, EN 61000-3-2, EN 61000-3-3.

Our customer selected a hardware platform from another vendor that proved challenging to support. After analysing the technical requirements, we assisted the client in implementing an architectural solution on the Microchip components. This choice ensured guaranteed support from us and facilitated seamless collaboration with our vendor partner.

View of the board under the case

View of the board under the case  

The Ethernet switch software uses Microchip IStaX to manage the Microchip VSC7546TSN industrial switch and MaxLinear GPY212 2.5Gbit/s PHY. The software runs on the internal 1 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor of the Microchip VSC7546TSN switch chip. 

4. Software Development  

The switch is also equipped with NOR for the bootloader and eMMC for the main application. Its software provides the network administrator with web-based software management interface to configure and monitor switches remotely with: 

  • command line interface (Telnet/SSH); 
  • web interface (JSON); 
  • SNMP. 

The switch stores its configuration in text files in a human-readable format. 

The web interface is divided into different subgroups to solve the following tasks: 

  • configuration of switch functions; 
  • monitoring of configured functions using the automatic update function; 
  • running supported diagnostics. 

We used Meinberg PTP Grandmaster and Intel i210 ethernet controller with PPS output to test the development software. 

Business Value 

The customer gets an industrial network switch, empowering them to enhance productivity and provide high-quality solutions to their partners in support of their industrial networks. The development of this versatile industrial switch has allowed our customer to address precise test and measurement requirements. Due to its robustness, energy efficiency, ease of operation, and personalisation system, the switches integrate with the current product line.  

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