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Quad-Ethernet SBC and controller tap new Renesas RZ/N1D SoC

Feb 21, 2018 — by Eric Brown 2,088 views

Emtrion’s Linux-ready “SBC-RZN1D” SBC, which will soon power a “Flex2COM” controller, features a Renesas dual-core -A7 RZ/N1D SoC and 4x LAN ports, and is designed for multi-protocol fieldbus communications.

Emtrion, which recently announced its emCON-RZ/G1H module based on an octa-core Renesas RZ/G1H SoC, has unveiled a Renesas based, quad-LAN port SBC-RZN1D SBC focused on industrial communication. The SBC-RZN1D taps the Renesas RZ/N1D (R9006G032), one of a new line of RZ/N1D SoCs launched last year by Renesas for industrial multi-protocol communications. Renesas recently collaborated with Avnet to ship its own dual-Ethernet Renesas RZ/N1D Solution Kit (see farther below).

SBC-RZN1D alone (left) and with Flex2COM
(click images to enlarge)

The datasheet for the 110 x 90 x 15mm SBC-RZN1D also references an upcoming Flex2COM controller computer, which has mini-PC like 125 x 100 x 35mm dimensions. The specs are identical except for the Flex2COM’s additional CE, EN 55011/CISPR11; Class A, and EN 61000-6-2 certifications. Both products are optimized for Linux and ThreadX, while also supporting Android, Windows Embedded, Win 10 IoT, QNX, and FreeRTOS.

Like the RZ-G1E SoC, which has appeared on devices including Mistral’s RZ/G1E SMARC module, the RZ/N1D is equipped with dual Cortex-A7 cores, but they are clocked at 500MHz instead of 1GHz. Display capabilities are limited to a simple LCD controller.

RZ/N1D simplified, conceptual block diagram showing separate Cortex-M3-based industrial communication block
(click image to enlarge)

The RZ/N1D’s magic power is its support for industrial Ethernet protocols. The SoC adds a 125MHz Cortex-M3 for real-time communications that controls a separate IP block devoted to Ethernet functions.


The SoC can drive up to 5x switched Ethernet ports and up to 2x independent GMACs, and offers EtherCAT and Sercos III slave controllers. It also provides industrial Ethernet master stacks for EtherCAT, EtherNet /IP, Sercos, CANOpen, and PROFINET. There’s also a single-core RZ/N1S model, as well as an RZ/N1L that offers the Cortex-M3, but not the -A7 core(s), and is limited to three Ethernet ports.

Renesas RZ/N1D block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The SBC-RZN1D appears to be the only RZ/N1D based board on the market except for the dual Ethernet Renesas RZ/N1D Solution Kit, offered by Avnet (see farther below). This Emtrion white paper (Google translated from the German) explains how the company reached out to Renesas to meet customer needs for a multi-protocol SBC that ran Linux. Emtrion outsourced the development of the board’s communications interface to Renesas, which completed the task in less than four months.

Renesas RZ/N1D software architecture
(click image to enlarge)

The SBC-RZN1D product page lists 5x Ethernet, presumably based on the RZ/N1D’s 5-port Ethernet switch. However, the board is limited to 2x 10/100 and 2x 10/100/1000 RJ45 ports, and there’s no indication of how the fifth port might be expressed.

PROFINET is available now and EtherCAT is coming soon. Emtrion also notes the SBC-RZN1D’s support for optional virtualization, security, and fast boot enhancements, but does not go into details.

SBC-RZN1D block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The SBC-RZN1D and Flex2COM run on 512MB to 2GB DDR3 with 8GB to 64GB erMMC flash. The product page mentions an LCD interface, which does not show up in the block diagram or specs. The board and controller also provides dual CAN ports with CANopen support, and several RS232 and RS485 ports.

The systems support a 0 to 70°C range or optional -40 to 85°C. The SBC-RZN1D (and perhaps the Flex2COM) ships with 15-year availability.

Specifications listed for the SBC-RZN1D (and upcoming Flex2COM controller) include:

  • Processor — Renesas RZ/N1D (2x Cortex-A7 @ 500MHz); 1x Cortex-M3 @ 125MHz
  • Memory/storage — 512MB to 2GB DDR3; 32MB QSPI NOR flash; 8GB to 64GB eMMC
  • Networking:
    • 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports
    • 2x Fast Ethernet ports
    • Additional Ethernet interface possible
    • PROFINET CCB RT1 support
    • EtherCAT support “coming soon”
    • EtherNET/IP
    • Industrial communication middleware — “GOAL by port”
    • Device Level Ring on request
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x CAN 2.0 A/B with CANopen Master/Slave
    • Up to 2x RS485
    • RS232
    • JTAG, UART console, USB device, SPI, possible LCD
  • Other features — RTC; 4x LEDs; T-rail mounting for Flex2COM
  • Power — 10-30VDC input (default to 24V); 200mA @ 24V max. consumption
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 70°C; optional -40 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 110 x 90 x 15mm (125 x 100 x 35mm for Flex2COM)
  • Operating systems — Optimized for Linux (Yocto Project based) and ThreadX; also supports Android, Windows Embedded, Win 10 IoT, QNX, and FreeRTOS

Renesas RZ/N1D Solution Kit

The other current option for RZ/N1D development is the Renesas RZ/N1D Solution Kit, which is available from Avnet. The board was announced in November as the Renesas RZ/N1 Solution Kit featuring the single -A7 core RZ/N1S variant, but was then switched to the dual-core D model.

Renesas RZ/N1D Solution Kit with RZ/N1D-DB board (left) and RZ/N1D-DB plugged into optional Connect It! RZ/N1 Expansion board
(click images to enlarge)

Available Linux and ThreadX BSPs include demo applications, drivers, and Ethernet and networking stacks. The kit supports PLC programming compatible with IEC 61131-3 by CODESYS.

The kit is built around an RZ/N1D-DB board with an undisclosed allotment of DDR3 RAM and NOR flash. You get dual 10/100 Ethernet ports, a USB device/host interface, and a USB debug/power port. The kit also ships with a USB-driven IAR I-jet Lite debugger with 20-pin ribbon cable.

The RZ/N1D-DB board can plug into an optional Connect It! RZ/N1 Expansion board, also called the RZ/N1-EB. This adds three Gigabit Ethernet ports, an SD slot, and Parallel and LCD display interfaces. You also get 4x PMOD interfaces plus CAN, RS485, and RS232.

Renesas RZ/N1D overview video

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the SBC-RZN1D or Flex2COM. More information may be found on Emtrion’s SBC-RZN1D product page.

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