Austin, Texas is where I call home and is home to some of the leading technology providers in the world. I recently had lunch with a colleague at Freescale discussing life and business here. The brains in much of the DeltaV hardware is powered by Freescale microcontroller chips. For those not close to this industry, Freescale is a 2004 spinoff of Motorola’s semiconductor business.
I spoke with some of Emerson’s DeltaV technologists responsible for hardware design and they described the history of working with these microcontrollers all the way back to the early 1980s with the Motorola 6801 and 6802 chips. Around this same time, I was working with the 6809 microprocessor chip in my days as an electrical engineering student at the University of Texas. The 6809’s assembly language is now only a distant memory.
As Moore’s Law predicted, the rapid exponential advances in performance over this twenty-five year span have certainly helped increase the capabilities within automation systems and have reduced the need for many separate host computer-level applications. These applications have migrated into the automation systems where they can run in robust, industrially hardened and redundant environments.
Some of the current generation of microcontroller chips like the Freescale MPC8360E can provide the processing capabilities to handle even more complex model predictive control algorithms, adaptive control, sophisticated phases/operations/unit procedures/procedures for batch processes, and other complex applications. These innovations continue to find there way into each new DeltaV release.
Over the years, it has been beneficial to have DeltaV technologists located in the same city as the Freescale design team. When issues arise, they can be discussed people who have met and gotten to know one another. These relationships can help improve the quality of future designs and supporting tools and documentation.