Deterministic Compute

Intel® FPGAs for Deterministic Compute

Efficient Motor Control Designs with Intel® FPGAs and SoC FPGAs

Motors and drives power countless industrial processes in production, assembly, packaging, robotics, computer numerical control (CNC), machine tools, pumps, and industrial fans. These motor-driven systems account for more than two-thirds of industrial energy consumption, making their efficient operations vital to factory profits.

Designing motor control and motion control systems with Intel® FPGAs and SoC FPGAs can result in significant reduction in overall cost of ownership through:

  • System Integration: Lower bill of materials (BOM), power consumption, and reliability challenges by integrating industrial networking, functional safety, encoder, and power stage interfaces and digital signal processing (DSP) control algorithms in a single device.
  • Scalable Performance: Use a single scalable platform across entire product lines. Achieve higher performance with faster and more advanced deterministic control loops.
  • Functional Safety: Reduce compliance time and effort. Intel was the first FPGA supplier to obtain qualification of our devices and tools under the Machinery Directive safety standard IEC 61508.

PLCs on Intel® SoC FPGAs

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are at the heart of a factory control network. They are configured around an application processor that runs the factory control software along with any master communication protocol stack. Besides the processor, the PLC architecture requires support for multiple specialized peripherals, backplanes, and other custom interfaces, typically implemented using an FPGA. Intel® SoC FPGAs provide a unique platform that allows you to implement both the application processor and FPGA in a single device, reducing system power, cost, and board space.

An Intel® SoC FPGA implementation of a PLC:

  • Runs the PLC application software, Ethernet master protocol stack, and motion control software through the SoC’s dual-core ARM* Cortex*-A9 processor in Synchronous Multiprocessing (SMP) or Asynchronous Multiprocessing AMP mode.
  • Implements most peripherals, including USB, CAN, Ethernet, timers, and UARTs, required by the PLC system processor using the SoC’s hard processor system (HPS).
  • Implements specialized peripherals such as multiport Ethernet switches and TCP/IP offload using the FPGA fabric.
  • Implements Human Machine Interface (HMI) in the FPGA fabric.
  • Implements IoT Cloud Server on SoC connecting to Enterprise over OPC-UA.
  • Implements Crypto Acceleration Engine for OpenSSL in FPGA fabric.


IP Cores and Partners

Programmable Logic Controller

Intel has partnered with Exor, GmbH, and Silex Insight to build Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) solutions for Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 that encompass single-chip high-end PLC implementations enabled with secure enterprise cloud connectivity and Human Machine Interface (HMI). These on chip PLC solutions support full touchscreen HMI, Enterprise applications integration over OPC-UA, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption in hardware. They also enable up to 4X performance improvement over processor-based encryption, making possible significantly better bandwidth utilization for secure M2M and Enterprise communications in a micro system-on-module (microSOM) less than half the size of a credit card.

The Cyclone® V SoC FPGA has ready-made microSOM and evaluation design, making it the ideal platform to develop PLCs ready for Industry 4.0 with faster time to production.

To speed up development, Intel teamed up with industry leaders:

  • PLC Software: 3S-Smart Software Solutions GmbH, developers of CODESYS - a leading PLC software developer.
  • HMI Software: EXOR International, a leader in HMI development.
  • Security IP, Onboarding, Boot: Silex Insight, a leader in security and encryption IP.

Human Machine Interface

Rich Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) including 3-D graphical user interfaces (GUI) with touchscreens are ubiquitous in today’s PLC designs, enabling ease of operation and maintenance, operator training, information availability, and safety.

Intel's HMI solution leverages the FPGA fabric, enabling HMI integration in the same SoC as the PLC and freeing up the hard processor system from HMI-related graphics computations.

The JMobile Studio Graphics Editor from Exor International for Cyclone® V SoC device integrates directly with CODESYS PLC* from 3S Software GmbH and provides an extensive symbol library to enable drag-n-drop HMI, building effective graphic interfaces for efficient representation of information making it easy to develop process control application using the integrated CODESYS PLC* and HMI.


Data communication endpoints—from personal phones and sensors to industrial power and manufacturing equipment—must be secured from malicious commands and data. Intel® FPGAs provide hardware command/control logic that is inherently more secure than frequently updated software and provides multiple strong authentication capabilities in both hard and soft logic. Hardened authenticators are highly resistant to remote attacks, and soft logic authenticators can be implemented in endless redundant and fail-safe combinations to meet any level of endpoint security.

Build security into your PLC application with easy-to-integrate security and cryptography IP cores from Intel partners such as Silex Insight. FPGA fabric-based implementation offers high performance and enhanced security, while scalable IP core footprint enables tailoring to suit customized needs.

Silex Insight Security SoC Solution for Cyclone® V SoC FPGA device provides:

  • API for custom OS or bare-metal programming.
  • Linux kernel drivers.
  • OpenSSL integration.
  • Hardware acceleration.
  • Symmetric: AES, SHA, DES.
  • Public key: RSA, ECC.
  • True Random Generator.
  • AXI* interface for easy integration.

Motor Control

Unlike traditional motor control drive designs based on ASICs, ASSPs, microcontrollers and DSP devices, a drive system based on a single Intel® FPGA platform provides a scalable platform that supports diverse drive needs.

The Intel® FPGA drive-on-a-chip example design includes an FPGA system design, embedded C software libraries, FPGA intellectual property (IP) cores, and the Tandem Motion-Power 48 V motor control and power conversion kit. It enables the development of complete multi-axis motor control and power conversion systems in a single FPGA or FPGA SoC.

The design supports high-level design entry using Intel® FPGA Platform Designer, C/C++ on soft Nios or ARM hard processor, or Simulink using Intel® FPGA’s DSP Builder Simulink Blockset or MathWorks HDL Coder.

Power Conversion for Motor Control

Intel also provides IP to implement flexible power conversion algorithms with an example design of a 2-phase bi-direction DC-DC converter including current and voltage control loops. Intel developed the FPGA IP using DSP Builder for Intel® FPGAs.

Development Kits

Tandem Motion Power

The Cyclone® V SoC FPGA development kit, the SoC development kit from Terasic, and the Intel® MAX® 10 FPGA development kit support the drive-on-a-chip motor control reference design. Designs running on the FPGA host boards connect to the dual axis Tandem Motion Power 48 V Board over a high-speed mezzanine card (HSMC) interface.


Kit / Board Description


FPGA Host Control Boards

Intel® MAX® 10 Development Kit


FPGA Host Control Boards

Cyclone® V SoC Development Kit


Motor Control Power Board Options

(Connect to FPGA Control Boards over HSMC)

Tandem Motion Power 48 V Board


DC-DC Converter

Intel® MAX® 10 Development Kit