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  • Hot Topic: Interfacing RTDS Simulator to External Equipment Using Aurora Protocol

    October 31, 2018

    The Aurora protocol is a lightweight serial protocol developed by Xilinx that is suitable for high speed point-to-point communication links. Support for the Aurora protocol exist for PB5 and NovaCor based RTDS Simulators and is available within both the main timestep and small timestep simulation environments.  Aurora specifications for the PB5 and NovaCor hardwares are similar but slight differences do exist.  The overview provided here focuses on the NovaCor implementation.

    The RTDS Simulator’s Aurora protocol implementation allows the bi-directional exchange of 32-bit integers or floating point numbers between the simulator and another Aurora protocol compatible device.  Signals are exchanged via a fiber optic cable. 

    The ability to output or read-in Aurora formatted packets must be licenced for each PB5 card or NovaCor chassis.  Each license allows for interconnections over 4 different fiber optic cables.  Each fiber optic connection supports the output of 1-64 numbers as well as the input of 1-64 numbers.

    In order to read or write Aurora data to/from a fiber optic cable, either the mainstep or small timestep Aurora components must be used in DRAFT.  Both of these icons are shown below and can be found if the keyword ‘aurora’ is used to search the master library.


    Using the Aurora Protocol to exchange data with and external device is an attractive option in cases where a lot a data needs to be moved in a short period of time.  The other IO cards and not ideal for such applications.  The data exchange between the RTDS Simulators and an Aurora-compatible device can be either unidirectional or bi-directional.  The number of signals exchanged and the direction of that exchange is generally application specific.

    Examples of Interface options: (1/2) Unidirectional, (3) Bi-directional



    Tighter Closed-Loop Performance using Sequence Numbers

    For certain applications, data will be sent from the RTDS Simulator to an external device and the device will provide a response that should be read back into the simulation.  For such scenarios, we’ve introduced something called a sequence number that is useful for minimizing loop delays and improving closed-loop performance.

    A sequence number is an integer that is appended to the package of data sent to an Aurora compatible device.  This integer is incremented every timestep.  When the sequence number option is enabled in the Aurora DRAFT component, the component will send out its package of data (including the sequence #) and then its execution is paused until the sequence number of an incoming data package matches the one sent out.  NOTE: The Aurora compatible device is expected to echo the sequence number it receives.

    Use of sequence numbers makes it possible to send out data to external device using the Aurora protocol and then receive a response to that data within the same timestep.  This of course assumes the device is able to respond in significantly less time than a timestep.  Interfacing time delays can therefore be minimized.

    *Due to performance constraints sequence numbers are not available for the small timestep Aurora component.

    Aurora Interface Details

    When generating the Xilinx IP Aurora core to connect to the NovaCor Aurora link, the following settings are required:

    • Aurora lanes : 1
    • Encoding: 8b/10b
    • Lane Width : design dependent
    • Interface : Framing
    • Dataflow Mode : Duplex
    • Flow Control : None
    • Line Rate : 2 Gbps
    • Scrambler/Descrambler: No
    • Little Endian Support: No
    • CRC: No

    Additional Resources

    A demo case that includes a reference FPGA design that can be loaded onto a Xilinx VC707 board is available to provide a starting point for customers wanting to use the Aurora protocol to communicate between the RTDS Simulator and an external device.

    Want more information?

    We would love to answer any questions you have about interfacing the RTDS Simulator to external equipment using the Aurora Protocol. Complete this form and one of our Simulation Specialists will get back to you!

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    RTDS Technologies Inc.
  • Join us at these upcoming conferences!

    October 11, 2018

    Join us next week at these conferences!

    RTDS Technologies will be at conferences in Canada, United States and Germany next week!

    WPRC 2018

    traveling wave relay testing

    For many years, developers have investigated the possible use of traveling wave data for protective relaying applications.  Now the first commercial devices using traveling wave based algorithms have been released.  These new devices use sampling in the range of 1 MHz to very accurately measure the timing of reflections caused by faults. This creates a challenge for closed-loop testing of these relays with a real time simulator.  In order to test the traveling wave based relay algorithms, the simulator must operate with a timestep in the microsecond range, whereas previously protective relays were tested using timesteps in the 50 microsecond range.

    Join us at WPRC where we will be demonstrating NovaCor, which has the processing power to provide a flexible, high fidelity modeling capability well-suited to testing traveling wave based relays.  The raw processing power of NovaCor helps to facilitate simulation timesteps in the microsecond range.

    CIGRE Canada


    Learn about our GTFPGA MMC models capable of modelling up to 1024 SM per valve with half, full and mixed topology. We will be demoing the HVDC point to point and DC grid systems developed by CIGRE working groups.  See NovaCor’s ability to model large DC grids on a single NovaCor chassis!

    Also learn about GPES, our new general power electronic solver that’s runs on the GTFPGA unit. GPES provides a highly flexible platform to model custom converter topologies. Compared to our small time step environment, GPES will support more nodes, more switches, and more branches with a reduced time step size!

    IEC 61850 Global

    Real time closed-loop testing is the most thorough test method for relay engineers and has become an integral part of the daily testing tools. This closed-loop testing provides a method of not only evaluating the performance of the protection equipment, but also evaluating the response of the power system network to the operation or mis-operation of that protection device. To achieve this, a simulator that emulates various conditions of the physical power system would be required. Then the system voltages, currents, and the breaker status would need to be send from the simulator to the protection device, and also the trip, reclose signals from the device under test need to be fed back to the simulated system. The data exchange can be well handled by the IEC 61850 Sample Values, GOOSE messages and through MMS communications.

    The RTDS Simulator’s IEC 61850 communication capability is provided by the GTNETx2 card and the GTFPGA-SV board. A closed-loop relay testing will be demonstrated using IEC 61850 at the RTDS booth. Some new developments, including new models for supporting IEC 61850 Edition 2 will be presented as well. A presentation on integrated testing for IEC 61850 compatible IEDs in a simulated smart automation system is scheduled in the morning session of Day 2 program.

    Event Details

    Western Protective Relay Conference

    October 15 – 18, 2018
    Spokane Convention Center
    Spokane, Washington

    BOOTH 1

    Cigre Canada

    October 15 – 18, 2018
    Westin Calgary
    Calgary, Alberta

    BOOTH 21

    IEC 61850 Global

    October 16 – 18, 2018
    Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz

    Booth 20

    RTDS Technologies Inc.
  • Hospitality Suite at IEEE PES GM

    July 26, 2018
    Electric Avenue

    Attention all IEEE PES GM delegates!

    We invite you to join us at our Hospitality Suite, co-hosted with PSCAD, during the IEEE PES General Meeting! Rock down to Electric Avenue where our industry experts will demonstrate the latest advancements in Real Time Power System Simulation!

    Network with your industry peers. 

    Join us for cocktails and appetizers.

    Speak with our simulation experts!

    Event Details

    Monday, August 6  •  8 PM – 10 PM
    Tuesday, August 7  •  7 PM – 10 PM

    Oregon Convention Center

    Room F152



    Pre-register for your chance to win!

    Let us know ahead of time that you’re coming, and you’ll receive an extra entry into our Grand Prize draw!

    RTDS Technologies Inc.
  • Dr. Yi Zhang appointed CTO of RTDS Technologies

    July 4, 2018

     Yi Zhang appointed CTO of RTDS Technologies



    We are very pleased to announce the recent appointment of Yi Zhang as VP, R&D & Chief Technology Officer of RTDS Technologies!

    Dr. Yi Zhang has been a valuable member of the RTDS family for 18 years.  Starting with us after completing his postdoctoral research at the University of Alberta, he has been a major developer in RTDS development team for many years. Dr. Zhang has contributed to numerous developments including load flow, UMEC transformer, various HVDC and FACTS models, etc.  In his most recent position as VP, R&D-Power Systems, Dr. Zhang led a highly technical team of engineers responsible for model development and applications.  Dr. Zhang has been a key contributor to RTDS’ success, not only in a technical capacity, but also in marketing & sales as he also performs the role of Acting Manager for the China region.  He brings a unique combination of expertise to the CTO role with his technical background and customer-facing experience.  Reporting to the CEO, he will provide overall strategic technical direction and lead the R&D function including hardware, software & model development.

    Dr. Zhang is a registered professional engineer in the province of Manitoba. He holds Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manitoba and Shanghai Jiaotong University.  Dr. Zhang also serves as an adjunct professor of the University of Manitoba and an editor of IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery.

    Congratulations Yi!

    RTDS Technologies Inc.
  • SEL & RTDS Technologies inventing the future of power system protection!

    July 3, 2018

    RTDS and SEL Mark Historic Milestone in Power System Protection

    On May 7, 2018, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) energized a 345 kV series-compensated transmission line protected by SEL-T400L Time-Domain Line Protection devices with the trip circuits live to the breakers. This marked the first time that a relay based on traveling-wave protection principles was applied to protect a high-voltage transmission line, an event made possible by the new Traveling Wave Relay Testing (TWRT) capability in the RTDS® Simulator.

    This event was the culmination of PNM’s plan to divide a 345 kV series-compensated transmission line into two segments intersecting at a new switching station. Because the division would result in overcompensation on the first section of the line, PNM reached out to Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) for assistance in developing a protection design, calculating relay settings, and performing real-time digital simulation. This became the perfect opportunity to introduce PNM to the SEL-T400L.

    “We used the RTDS Simulator’s TWRT capability for acceptance testing of the SEL-T400L to demonstrate the performance and behavior of the traveling-wave functions. The test results gave the customer the confidence to deploy the relay with direct tripping.”

    Jordan Bell
    SEL Protection Engineer

    Two months prior to the energization of the line, engineers at SEL performed Model Power System Testing of both line segments using the RTDS Simulator at their testing facility in Pullman, Washington. SEL performed traditional testing at a timestep of 50 microseconds to test and prove the time-domain elements of the SEL-T400L. While the time-domain elements worked as expected, the testing of traveling-wave functions required an even faster timestep.

    SEL-T400L-relayTo solve this dilemma with perfect timing, RTDS Technologies provided NovaCor™ simulation hardware with the recently announced TWRT capability. TWRT allowed SEL to test the traveling-wave directional and differential elements in real time to prove their performance to PNM.

    The TWRT testing revealed an unprecedented operation time of 600 microseconds for the traveling-wave differential element for a midline single-phase fault. Moreover, the traveling-wave fault locator reported the fault location to within 0.02 miles on a 33.1-mile line! These testing results gave PNM the confidence to deploy the SEL-T400L with direct tripping.

    This is only the beginning for traveling-wave protection devices and their associated test equipment. SEL Engineering Services and RTDS Technologies are at the forefront, inventing the future of power system protection. Learn more about how TWRT from RTDS and the SEL-T400L can improve your protection system.

    By Jordan Bell, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
    Appears in RTDS News, June 2018.

    RTDS Technologies Inc.