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Hardware Comparison: RX3i Selection Guide

The RX3i control system is part of Emerson’s PACSystems family of products. Emerson now makes the PACSystems products, formerly GE Fanuc, for industrial automation needs with highly scalable and flexible systems that work within an IoT-enabled environment. The entire RX3i family is modular and offers many I/O options.  

The RX3i system was intended as a replacement option for legacy Emerson systems such as Series 90-30, Series 90-70, Rx7i, Series 6, and Series 5. Designers looking to upgrade from older Series 90-30 modules can do so on backplanes of the RX3i, allowing for incremental upgrading over time. It will enable fast internet connectivity to enable IoT applications within a facility or control system.

Comparing PACSystems Models

The RX3i has several features that are improved over other PACSystems models. As an upgrade from older systems, the RX3i is up to 100 times faster than legacy controllers. The RX3i is also a chassis-based system, making both local and remote expansion easier. Only the VersaMax modular model in the Emerson family shares this feature.

The RX3i also has system redundancy for both EGD and PNSR. Only three other models – the PACSystems RSTi-EP, PAC8000, and VersaMax Modular have redundancy for PSNR, and only the VersaMax Modular has EGD. The balance of the PACSystems family does not offer redundancy.

Along with the VersaPoint and PAC8000, the RX3i is considered to have the best diagnostics level out of Emerson’s PACSystems line. Also, like the VersaPoint and PAC8000, the RX3i allows hot-swapping so users can replace components without having to power down the system.  

The RX3i’s versatility makes it a highly scalable member of the PACSystems line with high availability and reliability. And for those looking to replace older legacy systems such as Series 90-30, upgrading to the RX3i requires only the RX3i baseplate, processor, and power supply.  

Other 90-30 components and most existing analog and digital modules are compatible (although there are a small number of 90-30 modules that are not). Emerson has even produced a one-to-one part conversion list for those looking to switch to RX3i components. And firmware can be transferred to the Rx31 with Emerson’s Proficy Machine Edition software.

Selecting the Right Components for the RX3i

The RX3i is a versatile system that provides something for almost any automation and control design. Here is a look at the features that can help you decide what combination of components will work for you.

CPU Modules

CPU Models– There are nine CPUs in the Rx5i family. Three are discontinued, and six are active. These include:

  • CPU310 – Discontinued
  • CPU315 – Discontinued
  • CPU320 – Discontinued.
  • CPE302 – Active
  • CPE305 – Active
  • CPE310 – Active
  • CPE330 – Active
  • CPE400 – Active
  • CPL410 – Active

All CPUs use the VxWorks operating system; all but the CPE400 and CPL410 occupy two slots in the rack except for the CPE302, CPE305, CPE400, and CPL410. The 302 and 305 each occupy a single rack slot, while the 400 and 410 are standalone CPUs.

All CPUs except the CPE400 and CPL410 support high-speed PCI-IC695 and Serial IC694 across the backplane to connect components. The 400 and 410 are rackless and use a Linux Field Agent and a 1.2 GHz quad-core microprocessor. It allows real-time control that is deterministic across many variables, including market data, fleet data, asset control, or process knowledge.

Programming Capability and Storage– The ability to program the RX3i for virtually any control or motion task is the true power of the CPU within the RX3i family. This means that all RX3i CPUs have been built with enough memory to handle the most complex instructions. All RX3i CPUs have up to 512 programming blocks available except for the 400 and 410. The 400 and 410 have up to 768 programming blocks available. However, it requires a firmware of 9.70 or later and requires that the Proficy Machine Edition be at least SIM 13 or later.

Firmware differs depending on the model. For the three discontinued models, the 310, 315, and 320, firmware is upgraded with the WinLoader Serial Port. The 302 and 305 and the CPU310 allow USB firmware upgrades with v 7.3 or later but require the WinLoader/Serial Port for earlier firmware editions. The CPE310, CPE400, and CPL410 allow for firmware downloads through a web interface using the ethernet port.

Communications – As the RX3i CPU models improved with new technology, communication changed to match the increased processing power and demands of an IoT-enabled system. Communications within the CPU group include:

  • USB – The three older discontinued models did not allow USB communication. CPU302, CPU305, and CPU 310 have a single USB type-A 2.0 port. CPE330 has either a USB type A 2.0 or a single USB type A 1.1. The CPE400 and CPL410 have two USB 3.0 ports.
  • RS-485 – The CPU310, CPU315, CPU320, and the CPE310 supported RS485 with a single 15 pin D. The CPE302, CPE305, CPE330, CPE400, and CPL410 do not support RS485. 
  • RS232 – RS232 is supported in a single nine pin connector in CPUs 310, 315, and 320, as well as the CPE310. 
  • The CPE302, CPE305 support RS232 with a single RJ-25, and the CPE400 and CPL410 support it with a single RJ-45. The CPE 33- does not support RS232.
  • EtherNet on CPE330, CPE400, and CPL410 – Because the CPE400 and CPL410 are standalone CPUs dedicated to handling the incoming and outgoing data and analytics of a smart or connected environment, they must be well equipped to handle significant variations and combinations of data from I/Os across several protocols. The CPE330 has two 10/100/1000 EtherNet Lan connections, while the CPE400 and CPL410 have four. And the CPE400 and CPL410 have a single embedded field agent, EtherNet RJ45, and an EtherNet non-switched RJ485, each at 10/100/1000.  

Protocols – Perhaps the most significant difference between older RX3i models and later ones is how protocol use has shifted with the increase in data being exchanged. The CPU310, 315, and 320 discontinued models, and the first CPE models utilized the traditional protocols such as Modbus RTU server, SNP server, and serial I/O. As data requirements shifted, starting with the CPE330, CPE410, and CPL410, the older protocols were no longer applicable. Instead, these more powerful models exchange data over Modbus TCP and a high number of simultaneous server connections (SRTP). They also utilize Ethernet Global Data (EGD) as well as PROFINET. 

I/O Modules

The Rx3i Modules provide the PACSystems control system with superior diagnostics and high performance. 

As the need for immediate action, while handling large volumes of data and the analytics and advice that comes with them, this high performance ensures the integrity of the control system that has seen a shift in required data transmission and receiving jump into the thousands-fold.

The RX3i system is also imminently scalable. Small builds can operate with as few as 8 I/O points, while larger systems can reach up to 32 thousand. This versatility is further enhanced by expanding locally or remotely, a key consideration in today’s connected or intelligent factories and cities.  

RX3i I/O modules can be hot swapped to save downtime during critical applications. And they are built to operate in conditions of extreme temperature and, in the case of marine-grade components, in moist and wet environments.  

I/O Types – The RX3i system I/O modules offer a wide range of capabilities. There are digital units that support voltage, TTL, and relay. 

There are also analog types that measure both voltage and current and RTD as well as thermocouples. The RX3i I/O group also utilizes many specialty I/O types that include:

  • Pulse Test
  • High-Speed Counters
  • PWM
  • Pulse Output
  • Power Synch and Measure
  • Strain Gauging
  • SoE Inputs

Networking and Gateways – With a system capable of up to 32,000 I/O points and both remote and local expansion, it is essential to manage data over a wide range of network interfaces, protocols, and gateways. RX3i I/O components can work over network interfaces such as:

  • Profit
  • Modbus/TCP
  • END
  • CMX
  • Profibus DP

They can also work across many gateways and bridges, including:

  • Serial Communication
  • Modbus/RTU
  • Modbus/TCP
  • HART
  • DNP3 Serial/TCP
  • IEC-61850
  • CANOpen
  • Profibus Server

Power Supply

The RX3i line also includes a multipurpose power supply. It is incredibly flexible and can operate across the RX3i components to power the CPU and I/O modules. The base unit is a 40-Watt power supply that can work in both AC or DC power. In the AC range power, the input voltage is 85-264 V AC. 

In the DC ranges, the input power ranges from 100V DC to 300V DC.

Power outputs are 5.1, 3.3, and 24VDC, respectively. The 5.1V DC is an output power only. The 3.3V DC output is used only to power internal RX3i components. And the 24V DC is a relay output capable of powering circuits on output relay modules.

Power supplies for the RX3i can be used for both redundancy and power-sharing applications. However, in load-sharing applications, required components must be wired so that all attached to the supply up or down simultaneously.

The RX3i family is designed for maximum flexibility in the face of large volumes of data in addition to control. As the line has progressed, each new iteration has adapted to take on more processing capabilities and is specifically designed to meet today’s connected data needs.

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This entry was posted on May 28th, 2021 and is filed under GE Fanuc, Hardware Comparison. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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