Industrial Ethernet and PROFIBUS Implementation for Altera FPGAs

Simple and Efficient Solution for Using the Softing Protocol IP

As a leading supplier of industrial communication solutions Softing has teamed-up with the FPGA manufacturer Altera and has generated an offering providing all the required hardware and firmware for implementing Industrial Ethernet and PROFIBUS field device functionality based on Altera FPGAs. This hardware and firmware bundle includes the Softing Protocol IP and is available from the Altera worldwide sales channel as a single source.
The Softing Protocol IP allows embedding a flexible Industrial Ethernet and PROFIBUS functionality into an FPGA. It provides an easy implementation of Industrial Ethernet (EtherCAT, Ethernet POWERLINK, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP, PROFINET RT and IRT) and PROFIBUS slave devices based on Altera’s family of Cyclone FPGAs.

  • Simplified, No-Hassle Slave Device Implementation for Industrial Ethernet Protocols Plus PROFIBUS
  • Ready-to-Use and Altera FPGA Tested Protocols Including FPGA IP and Software Protocol Stack
  • Uniform Software API and Hardware Interface
  • Flexible Integration Capabilities
  • Short Time-to-Market
  • No Upfront License Fee
  • No License Fee or Separate Royalty Per Unit Reporting
  • One Single Point of Contact for Purchasing Hardware and Royalty Via Altera Sales Channel
  • No License Fee Negotiations With Different Companies

Industrial Ethernet and PROFIBUS Implementation for Altera FPGAs – Evaluation and Implementation Steps

A simple step-by-step evaluation/implementation process is provided, which does not require any upfront license payment.

Step 1: Download the Softing Protocol IP Files from Softing’s Website

In detail, the Softing Protocol IP files include:

  • EtherCAT SlaveCore/Switch/Hub IP Core/PROFIBUS IP Core
  • NIOS II Binary File (including individual protocol stack plus eCos operating system)
  • Simple Device Application Interface (SDAI)
  • Device Description Files for Various Protocols
  • Reference FPGA Design
  • Sample Application Code (Source Code)
  • Reference Projects for Altera Tool Chain
  • PLC Sample Programs
  • Documentation

The Softing Protocol IP has been hardware tested for the Altera family of Cyclone FPGAs.

Step 2: Evaluate the Softing Protocol IP

The evaluation can be done using the downloaded Softing Protocol IP (see Step 1) based on an appropriate evaluation kit plus Quartus software. The following evaluation kits are recommended:

Altera’s Cyclone IV
FPGA Based INK Kit
Altera’s Cyclone V E
FPGA Development Kit
Altera’s Cyclone V
SoC Development Kit*

Together with the evaluation kits the Softing Protocol IP can be used with full functionality for a limited time without requiring any royalty. Once the Softing Protocol IP has timed-out the evaluation can be re-started.

Step 3: Develop Device Hardware and Integrate Application

The individual customer target hardware is developed including the Altera Cyclone FPGA. In addition, the application can be integrated into a second NIOS II IP Core, into an external microprocessor or into an ARM Core of a System-on-Chip (SoC). The application can be based on the Reference FPGA Design and the Sample Application Code included in the Softing Protocol IP (see Step 1). All supported protocols can be accessed by the application using SDAI, a common software API as well as a common hardware interface.

Step 4: Purchase Required FPGAs and Security CPLDs

The complete package of required hardware and firmware is purchased through Altera’s worldwide sales channel. It includes the Security CPLD, which activates the Softing Protocol IP functionality. The identical Security CPLD can be used for implementing any of the supported protocols.


Protocol Supported Features
  • ESC 3.0.2
  • Slave Stack 5.03
  • CoE, FoE, EoE, Station Alias
  • 3 FMMUs
  • 4 Sync Managers
  • Distributed Clocks (64Bit)
  • DLR (Announce-Based)
  • Quick Connect
  • Address Conflict Detection (ACD)
  • 505Bytes Input and Output Data
  • 10 IO Connections and 10 Encapsulation Sessions
Modbus TCP
  • 1024Bytes I/O Data
  • Predefined Standard Objects:
    VendorName, ProductCode, MajorMinorRevision; ProductName
  • Conformance Class B
  • Cycle Time Down to 1ms
  • Fast Start-Up (if hardware prerequisites have been implemented)
  • Shared Device
  • Shared Input
  • MRP Client
  • Specification V2.3
  • Cycle Time Down to 250µs
  • PTCP, Relative and Absolute Forwarder
  • In Preparation: Fragmentation, MRPD, DFP
  • PROFIBUS DP-V0 and DP-V1 Slave
  • Acyclic Connections According to Class 1 and Class 2
  • Sync/Freeze Support
  • Fixed and Modular Configuration
  • Up to 244Bytes Input, Up to 244Bytes Output
  • Extended Parameters and Diagnostics, Alarms

Additional information is also available from the website of Softing's partner Altera at

The complete package for implementing Industrial Ethernet and PROFIBUS for Altera FPGAs can be ordered through Altera or the local Altera representative.

Additional Products and Services

SIA-YY-012501 Integration Workshop for Implementing Industrial Ethernet Devices Based on FPGA

Softing Industrial


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