RapID Platform FAQ

What is the RapID™ Platform?

The RapID Platform is a complete networrk connectivity solution that enables you to add Industrial Ethernet to an existing product or to design a new product in the fastest time and at the lowest cost.  You can integrate the RapID Platform as a module, embed the module’s design into your circuit card, or completely customize the solution with your application.  Either way, the RapID Platform is a proven solution so that all of the development risk has been removed.  Analog Devices has carefully selected the components and software that are integrated into our solution, making sure that everything works together.

The RapID Platform is centered around the Innovasic fido1100 communications controller, and this chip’s unique architecture allows us to provide PriorityChannel with all of our Industrial Ethernet protocols.  The fido1100 and PriorityChannel give RapID Platform the best Industrial Ethernet performance of any solution on the market.

What makes the RapID™ Platform different from a reference design kit?

Most reference designs on the market today are simply that - kits.  In other words, there are a handful of items in a box and it is up to you to create something from these pieces.  Often, the pieces in the kit come from different manufacturers, and there may be issues with getting them all to work well together.  We have had customers tell us that it is very frustrating to purchase one of these kits, only then to be told that they have to get support for the various pieces from multiple manufacturers.

In addition, many reference design kits give you pieces of the solution, but you have to spend many hours trying to understand those pieces, how they must be configured, and what you have to do to get them all to work together. This can be particularly frustrating with all of the various software items that are required for an Industrial Ethernet solution.

The RapID Platform has been designed to eliminate these problems.  Every part of the platform is supported directly by Analog Devices.  When integrating RapID Platform as a module or embedded design, minimal change to the host software is required to interface the host with the RapID Platform.  But once this change is made, the host software never has to change again.  We supply the communication software that will run unmodified directly on Innovasic’s fido1100 communications controller chip.

How can an “Embedded Design” be almost as fast to market as a module?

A module provides a very fast time to market because it is a finished and tested unit.  While it sounds fast and easy - just buy it and plug it in - you still have to integrate the module onto your circuit board and change the interface software in your host application.  These are the same tasks performed to integrate the RapID Platform.  To make the hardware integration even faster, Analog Devices provides all engineering information in electronic form so that the design can be easily imported into virtually any hardware design environment.  To make the software integration faster, Innovasic provides communication software and a framework so your application software can either be quickly re-used or easily integrated.

Why is the fido1100 chip used in the RapID Platform?

The fido1100 communication controller is ideally suited to manage the network traffic in an Industrial Ethernet device.  The chip has been designed with a deterministic architecture that allows it to manage real-time tasks without needing an expensive Real-Time Operating System (RTOS).  In fact, the part of an RTOS that handles real-time events is called the Kernel, and the fido1100 has an RTOS Kernel built right into the chip in silicon.  By using silicon for the Kernel instead of software, the reliability is increased and the deterministic performance is greatly enhanced, even at significantly lower clock speeds.  In short, the fido1100 chip provides a unique architecture for industrial networking and provides the foundation for PriorityChannel.  And, of course, it’s protected from obsolescence by the leader in that field!

Are there any end products on the market already that have been enabled with the RapID Platform?

Yes.  The first EtherNet/IP and Profinet products based on Analog Devices's RapID Platform were shown at the 2009 SPS/Drives show in Nuremberg.  Just to name a few publicly announced products, Deutschmann Automation has enhanced their Gateway products with the RapID Platform, Advantech uses the RapID Platform in their ADAM family of products, MacValves chose RapID Platform for one of their valve manifold designs, and Acromag integrated the RapID Plafotrm into their BusWorks product family.  Additional announcements are appearing in the press and at trade shows as other new products are released.

How can Analog Devices protect me from obsolescence?

Since we own all of the intellectual property in the fido1100 and we manage the supply chain, we have full control over its life cycle.  Others who use off-the-shelf chips or ARM-based processors are at the mercy of third parties who can, and do, routinely discontinue products when the shorter life consumer markets can no longer support them.  As a company that sells only to long life-cycle customers, Innovasic approaches the market with a long life supply commitment and the capability to maintain that commitment.  We have been selling processors and I/O chips to many of the larger industrial automation suppliers for use in PLCs and Fieldbus devices for more than 10 years.

Analog Devices also extends the obsolescence protection beyond the fido1100 chip.  Other chips in the platform are monitored by Analog Devices, and their functionality will be matched with alternate devices in the event of an obsolescence problem.  Over time, we plan to integrate some of these functions into future versions of the fido1100.  Where necessary, we also have the capability to develop replacement chips of our own for functions that cannot be obtained elsewhere.  We are also working with our software partners to ensure that updates and new features are available to our customers if and when the EtherNet/IP and Profinet specifications change.  In addition, we own the critical software code that controls the fido1100 execution. 

I have a product already on the market with a Profibus interface. How easy will it be for me to use the RapID Platform to create a new product with a Profinet RT interface?

We have designed the RapID platform so that it is very easy to integrate.  You probably already have a host processor in your product with application software interfacing to a Profibus chip.  To convert this product to Profinet, all you need to do is remove the Profibus interface chips from the schematic and drop in the RapID Platform schematic, hooking it up to your host processor via a UART or memory bus.  We provide the firmware, Profinet stack, and TCP/IP stack for the fido1100 chip that controls the network traffic.  The only software you need to modify is the interface software on your host.  We also give you sample code in “C” and an API layer that shows how to set up the Profinet device for communications and transferring data to and from the host.  It’s as simple as that.

I have a sensor already on the market that doesn’t have a fieldbus or Industrial Ethernet.  How easy will it be for me to use the RapID Platform to create a version with an EtherNet/IP, Profinet, or ModbusTCP interface?

This application is straightforward with the RapID Platform.  Assuming your device design does not have an onboard processor, the RapID Platform I/O attaches directly to your sensor’s interface.  We provide a standalone software application for EtherNet/IP, Profinet, or ModbusTCP communications.  You provide application software to control the data transfer to and from your device.  Your application code and our communication software are integrated to form the sensor solution.   We provide a full software development environment, documentation, and field support that enables you to get your device to market quickly.

What type of support can I expect from Analog Devices while I am incorporating the RapID Platform reference design into my product?

Customers tell us our support and tools are better than anything they have used before!  We are available from the time you start evaluating the RapID Platform all the way through certification of your device.  Regardless of the question, we are a one-stop-shop that gets you answers on anything related to the RapID Platform – from a detailed EtherNet/IP question to a low level firmware timing question – you get the answers to make your product a success.  And our support doesn’t stop there.  We continuously protect the RapID Platform from obsolescence, and we continuously maintain the protocol stacks.  We also provide regular updates to the fido1100 firmware and software libraries.  You won’t be left watching vendors pointing fingers at each other and making you figure out why their solution doesn’t work.

I like the RapID Platform but I need the fastest possible solution. Should I use a plug-in module?

Yes.  The RapID Platform design is available as a plug-in module for low-volume applications. Purchasing a Network Interface module provides you with network-side hardware that is already tested, comes pre-loaded with the required sofware and is ready to communicate with your host processor. The amount of design work you must do to bring your product to market is significantly reduced.

What is a REM Switch?

REM stands for Reai-time Ethernet, Multiprotocol Switch.  It is an Ethernet switch that adds special processing in order to support the time-critical Industrial Ethernet protocols like PROFINET IRT, EtherCAT, SERCOS III, and POWERLINK. The REM Switch also has the capability to support all of the topology management protocols including beacon-based DLR, MRPD/MRP, and HSR or PRP.  The unique architecture of the REM Switch allows it to go way beyond what standard switches can do giving the REM Switch the capability to future-proof all supported protocols.  The REM Switch will even be able to support next generation protocols like those being considered by the IEEE Ethernet committees.

Why use a RapID Platform with the REM Switch?

The RapID Platform with the REM Switch is specifically designed to support the time-critical Industrial Ethernet protocols including PROFINET IRT, EtherCAT, SERCOS III, and POWERLINK.  It also supports EtherNet/IP with beacon-based DLR.  And while the REM-based RapID Platform also supports standard Industrial Ethernet protocols like PROFINET RT, EtherNet/IP, and ModbusTCP, for those users who do not need the time-critical processing for protocols like EtherCAT and PROFINET IRT, Innovasic offer a RapID Platform with a standard Ethernet switch.