Industrial Motor & Motion Control with Dual-Core Delfino MCUs

Design assistance for the next generation of industrial drive and control systems

Many engineers would jump at the chance to use a cheap industrial systems architecture that delivers feedback algorithms. This would be especially useful if it improved position accuracy and current sensing for motor and motion control. 

Traditionally, motor and motion control designs rely on FPGA technology for functions such as torque loop management.   However, the FPGA method can be relatively fixed (compared to a programmable microcontroller) and it lacks scalability across multiple applications. 

To bridge this gap, Texas Instruments (TI) has provided a family of dual-core F2837xD Delfino microcontrollers. This solution is targeting the next generation of industrial system designs with a focus on motion and motor control.


CPU Accelerators
The F2837xD dual-core’s C28x MCUs are each enhanced with tightly coupled accelerators. These accelerators perform math functions that are typically useful for control-based tasks. These new MCUs have increased the performance of the two F2837xD Delfino cores to 800 MIPS.

The first accelerator included in the package is the Trigonometric Math Unit (TMU). The TMU is designed to help the cores calculate traditional trigonometry functions (like sine, cosine, arctangent, and 1/x) in the translation from linear to angular motion. These calculations are processor intensive, need up to 30-90 cycles using a floating-point CPU. Performing these calculations parallel to the CPU’s other functions sees significant improvements in the overall design.


The next accelerator in the F28377D Delfino package is the Viterbi Complex Unit (VCU II). Using the VCU results in an increase in the performance of communication-based algorithms by a factor of ten. This will in turn allow for higher bitrates or reduced MHz, power, and cost depending on your design needs. Using vibration analysis, the VCU II can also predict motor failure to better set maintenance cycles, increase efficiency and limit pesky downtime.

The final two units that speed up the F28377D Delfino are a pair of real-time control accelerators (CLA). The CLAs have low-latency architecture similar to a traditional CPU. They even have access to control peripherals. These floating-point processors are connected to the CPUs allowing them to take some of the signal processing load. These accelerators are ideal for signal analysis of current wave forms to determine motor performance. They can also be used to convert analog-to-digital signals for storage in RAM and later use by the CPU.


The CPUs

As for the CPU units, each set (CPU and accelerators) can focus on separate aspects of the system. For instance, one set can implement the control-side of the functionality while the other set can facilitate the application side of the system (tracking speed and position, computing trajectories, and comparing motion profiles). 

The execution speeds of the CPUs are equivalent to FPGA-based solutions. However, coupled with the accelerators, they provide the flexibility of re-programming and scalability within the family of microcontrollers.

The power is in the processor, and the F283F2837xD devices deliver the performance needed to forge into the next generation of motion controllers.  Dual accessible SRAM, a modern set of I/O interfaces, and function specific and integrated accelerators, along with fast execution speeds, make these devices the home base for industrial motor and motion control designs.


An example implementation of a Delfino F2837xD-based MCU for modular industrial drives is explained in this TI demo video: 



Documentation and Experimentation

As usual, TI provides an experimenter’s kit for the 28377D Delfino. This will help engineers to get started right away. This kit includes a microcontroller card, USB JTAG interface, USB and MicroSD communications interfaces, and the Code Composer Studio IDE.  This kit can be purchased at the TI EStore

TI also provides various documentation to help engineers reduce their time to market. Delfino Microcontroller diagrams, reference manuals, datasheets, and white papers are all available through TI.


A flexible and scalable microcontroller-based environment for motor and motion control
As your designs expand in the future, the TMS320F28376D and TMS320F28377D microcontroller families will be available to meet the needs and demands of your designs. They will provide faster execution times, larger memory types, and the increased current communications interfaces needed for your industrial setting. 

TI says that the Delfino F2837xD MCU is a re-definition of industrial drive designs.  The system’s software programmability, and highly integrated hardware-based engines  move designs from the FPGA arena into the flexible and scalable microcontroller-based environment.  By using the TI F28377D experimenter’s kit,  you can be the first to deliver this new and enhanced platform for your motor and motion control industrial systems.

Texas Instruments has sponsored promotion of their industrial communications solutions on They have no editorial input to this post – all opinions are mine.  Bruce Schreiner