PACSystems® RXi Platform Changes How Automation is Done

  • Next generation control platform designed for the needs of the Industrial Internet
  •  Integration of industry standard technologies, PROFINET and COM Express, to deliver ultimate flexibility and cost-effective upgrades for future control and cloud-based automation software environments
  •  Innovative rugged design in small form factor to enable factory floor computing, even in harsh environments

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. —JULY 17, 2012—GE Intelligent Platforms (NYSE: GE) today announced the PACSystems® RXi, the company’s revolutionary new control and computing platform designed for the needs of the Industrial Internet.  Based on leading-edge computing and network technology, and supported by an emerging ecosystem of cloud-based support tools, the RXi will help customers gain productivity benefits from machine-to-machine connections and the skill sets of a digital native workforce. The RXi platform builds on GE’s deep expertise in the design of embedded control platforms as well as industry-standard open architecture technologies that deliver what companies in today’s economy need –- improved performance, integration into the Industrial Internet, and greater uptime and low total cost of ownership (TCO).

To provide the performance sophisticated control applications need today, the core of the product family is a COM Express architecture with multi-core CPUs, which will allow GE to offer a range of products that will be continually refreshed without impacting the user’s application.   The RXi platform offers a full complement of high speed interfaces, with multiple gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 ports.   These high performance features are coupled with GE’s PACSystems control engine to deliver uncompromised performance and application flexibility.

The PACSystems RXi family of controllers has built-in redundant PROFINET interfaces, delivering high performance, high uptime control solutions.  RXi Industrial PC (IPC) configurations are unique in the industry, able to run HMI, Historian and analytics applications right at the machine, even in harsh environments. This facilitates better real time control of operations and improved integration into plant-wide and enterprise systems.  The RXi platform fully supports GE’s new cloud-based collaborative automation platform development and deployment paradigm.

“The RXi controller is the next evolution of PAC controllers,” said Steve Pavlosky, Product General Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms’ Control & Communication Systems.  “The RXi platform is a key element in our strategy to deliver high performance control solutions that can be developed, deployed, and maintained with our new collaborative, cloud-based automation platform – delivering true integration with the Industrial Internet. The platform’s PROFINET-based distributed architecture offers the best combination of high performance control with distributed I/O for lower installation and maintenance costs coupled with redundant I/O networking for high reliability.  The RXi runs the same high performance PACSystems control engine found in our RX7i and RX3i products, enabling seamless application portability between form factors.  The RXi platform can also be used as a rugged industrial PC platform for the flexibility of an industrial PC for factory floor computing with the reliability of a PLC.”

From a design perspective, the RXi controller is a departure from traditional systems. First, it has no local I/O which creates the basis for future upgradeability.  Second, it has built-in PROFINET with ring redundancy to provide a simple to use, low installation cost, high performance redundant I/O network.  With open standard PROFINET as the I/O network, users are free to choose best of breed I/O and other devices, like drives and vision systems, for use in their systems.   Third, the ability to deploy the RXi architecture using both control and IPC modules interconnected provides a compact, high performance solution for applications requiring visualization, data archiving, or other advanced computational tasks at the point of control. Fourth, since it is based on standard Intel® architecture, GE can deliver control solutions with unique capabilities such as very large memory sizes and on-board storage capability. Finally, the integrated Intelligent Display Module allows users to perform standard maintenance functions without the need for a separate computer running programming software and creates a bridge that integrates the control system with the Industrial Internet.

The platform’s Industrial PC (IPC) is very small form factor, and is rugged and fanless, for companies looking for factory floor computing.  GE’srugged COM Express modular CPU platform incorporates patented thermal monitoring technology with sophisticated passive cooling techniques for a high performance computing “fanless” industrial computing and control platform, eliminating susceptibility to failure which can result in thermal shutdown of other IPC systems that rely on fans for cooling.

The design includes connectors on the controller and IPC so that the two products can be mounted together for cableless communications for applications where both control and computing are desired. The IPC can also be mounted on the back of a series of touch screen displays creating a family of modular panel IPCs. 

“This platform supports several trends in the industry including control sustainability, standards based open architectures, computing and control at the machine level, and integration into the Industrial Internet,” continued Pavlosky. “Customers expect their manufacturing assets to outlast the control system. This new way of developing a control platform allows them to maintain their investment while taking advantage of the newest technologies to make their assets more productive, more reliable and more cost efficient.”

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Elli Holman        

GE Intelligent Platforms

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