Fieldbus & Industrial Networking


TwinCAT runtime for real-time Linux

May 2024 Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

With TwinCAT runtime for real-time Linux, Beckhoff is opening up new application possibilities for real-time control. The ability to execute several TwinCAT runtimes on a single industrial PC means users can now combine different system parts on one high-performance computer to streamline programming and diagnostics. It also makes it possible to access a GPU graphics card from the real-time environment, providing a hardware accelerator for particularly computing-intensive applications such as vision, and much more.

TwinCAT runtime for real-time Linux is based on Beckhoff’s own Linux distribution, which expands the existing spectrum of operating systems beyond Windows and TwinCAT/BSD. This distribution was developed using the free Debian operating system, and includes a Linux real-time kernel as standard for real-time execution of the runtime. The Debian package system also makes it easy to install additional software.

This all combines to provide a TwinCAT runtime for stable real-time control on a Linux platform. Using container technologies such as Docker, Podman, or LXC, several TwinCAT runtimes can be executed on a single IPC to achieve modularity in machine and other control applications. The individual execution of several TwinCAT runtimes on a single industrial PC facilitates hardware consolidation with corresponding cost advantages due to the improved utilisation of the available computing capacity.

Linux users can take advantage of a whole new world of automation possibilities, while the familiar TwinCAT application programming remains unchanged. Benefits include the optimised execution of several real-time applications on a single CPU, increased user flexibility thanks to the modular control code, simplified addition or replacement of application modules, and the targeted execution of updates for individual applications. There is even a reduced overall investment in terms of both time and costs for engineering.

TwinCAT runtime for real-time Linux will initially be available for the new ARM-based CX82x0 and CX9240 Embedded PCs (with ARM Cortex A53 CPU). The Beckhoff Linux distribution will then be successively rolled out for all of the company’s other industrial and embedded PCs.


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