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Process Automation Trends

Moore’s Law and the Consequences: These Trends Define the Automation Industry

| Author / Editor: Michael Ziesemer* / Dominik Stephan

Thus, Plug and Play Will Become Reality

At this year’s Hannover exhibition/Germany, our 2-wire- field devices were displayed at the booth of Pepperl&Fuchs with Ethernet-interface: Two wire — auxiliary power supply to the two wires, intrinsic safety and Ethernet — everything together. It was spectacular to see, how the project was set up, when the plug of the Ethernet cable was inserted in I/O of the control system.

Please note that the plug was on the side of the control system, not on the field device. There were robust terminals there — in the manner it should have been. Here, an additional “clicking” was no longer required and even the installation of DTM or DD or any other file was not required. All the data is in the field device itself.

For the first time, we are approaching “Plug and Play” that is often postulated and never achieved. Ethernet on the field: This could be the answer to the digital fieldbus, which is established since 20 years in the market and has achieved only 15 to 20 % market share as against the analogue 4–20 mA-technology with superimposed Hart-protocol.

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Ethernet on the Field Possible only through Moore's Law

Why is it possible now and was not possible, when Profibus and Foundation Fieldbus gained foothold on the market? Why didn’t this branch immediately step in this direction? I simply think that it was technically not feasible — due to the power consumption, cost and space requirement. It is achievable now, since Moore’s Law has unfolded its desired effect.

We should first determine that this “law” is primarily not a law of nature. It is a statistical observation. Gordon Moore, one of the founders of the semiconductor manufacturer Intel, has formulated this law. It states that the processor performance of a chip — or the number of transistors on a given chip surface — doubles every 18 months.

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Drivers of Process Automation

Moore had formulated this law in 1965. Since then this prediction had vindicated with astonishing precision. We shall see that this law formulated an exponential function. Mentally, it causes us problems. Our thinking is unidimensional. According to Moore’s Law, a chip shall perform 128-times in the same price in a decade or shall render the same performance at less than one-hundredth of the price.

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