Hilscher Announces New M.2 Format PCI Express Card

By Tiera Oliver

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

July 30, 2020


New M.2 Format PCI Express Card Supports Fieldbuses and Real-Time Ethernets

Hilscher launched the new M.2 format PCI Express card, adding real-time communications to PC-based systems. According to the company, it is the world's smallest PC Card package that can connect PC-based devices, such IPCs, HMIs, and robotics, to Real-Time Ethernet and Fieldbus networks. At the heart of the M.2 2230 card is Hilscher's netX 90 multiprotocol communication chip.

The package has the necessary hardware and software components, including protocol stacks, device drivers, and network connectors. The M.2 card can be installed in new and existing devices to connect with industrial automation networks on the fly.

PCI Express M.2, briefly named M.2, is smaller than the Mini PCI Express format and was designed for thin computing platforms like notebooks and tablets. The tiny M.2 format allows add-in functions to be included into their systems in tight spaces.

M.2 formats come in various widths, lengths, and socket keys. For this first M.2 card release, Hilscher is using the A+E key socket arrangement, as that is the PCI Express specification's generic form factor for connectivity add-ins, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. The M.2 2230 Key A+E card, with Hilscher product name CIFX M223090AE, is part of Hilscher's cifX family of PC Cards. cifX PC Cards are intended for integration of a network interface and ideal time-to-market of the manufacturers' products and features.

With Hilscher's netX 90 multiprotocol communication chip, M.2 card users can choose among loadable firmware for PROFINET IO-Device, EtherNet/IP Adapter, EtherCAT Slave, and OpenModbus/TCP. Available in Q4 2020 is firmware for CC-Link IE Field Basic and Ethernet POWERLINK Slave. The appropriate network connector is included with delivery. There are adapters available from third-party vendors for other key formats, if required by the application. Additional firmware options, more card and key formats, and OPCUA and MQTT functionality will be released in the future.

Other benefits of the netX 90 ASIC include its small size, low power draw, reduced heat waste and extended temperature range. According to the company, these features make CIFX M223090AE the smallest multiprotocol card in the market, at 22 mm X 30 mm, and allow it to operate in conditions from -20 deg C to +70 deg C. With its low power consumption, the M.2 2230 is ideal for energy saving applications.

For more information, visit: https://www.hilscher.com/blog/hilscher-releases-a-new-member-of-cifx-pc-card-family-in-m2-2230-key-a-and-e-format/

Tiera Oliver, Associate Editor for Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for web content edits, product news, and constructing stories. She also assists with newsletter updates as well as contributing and editing content for ECD podcasts and the ECD YouTube channel. Before working at ECD, Tiera graduated from Northern Arizona University where she received her B.S. in journalism and political science and worked as a news reporter for the university’s student led newspaper, The Lumberjack.

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