ATOP - vendor profile and product portfolio

Contents


Introduction

ATOP is a Taiwanese manufacturer of industrial electronics.
The company has been founded in early nineties of the 20th century.

Their today's product portfolio hints at ATOP's focus on a few particular areas that receive the company's dedication, effort and resources, resulting in no-nonsense product innovation and a build-up of in-house know how.
The apparent center of gravity lies in Ethernet switches, routers and "serial device servers" (aka "terminal servers" in ancient times).
All of these are based on unified hardware platforms involving a switching matrix and/or an ARM CPU, possibly accompanied by further peripherials (UART's, wifi, WWAN radio). ATOP clearly leverages a common firmware code base and a proven mechanical design (in several basic form factors).
ATOP apparently offers these HW platforms in an open fashion too, in the form of "industrial computers" with an ARM CPU and a preloaded Linux image - a corresponding build environment is available for application/service cross-compilation on a PC.

Within the identified product categories, the portfolio is surprisingly broad (rich in variants) compared to cosmetically similar competition. The ATOP products also offer interesting technical features that are still rare among similar competition. Examples:

Also noteworthy is the five-year warranty on the whole portfolio. This hints at the vendor's confidence in the quality of its products: power supply design, thermal design and soldering.
(Some other "also industrial" manufacturers still only grant 1 year EXW TW.)

In terms of "scale", the ATOP portfolio of switches belongs to the segment of smaller "satellite" DIN-mounted switches and basic 24-port (+uplink bonus) rackmount switches for general industrial use.
ATOP clearly and understandably does not aspire to the "midrange enterprise", campus, provider access/core/edge, carrier-grade or datacenter categories.
Instead, ATOP offers a surprising set of useful features at the "industrial pole" of the application spectrum.

In the following chapters, an overview of ATOP product categories follows, in descending order by uniqueness.

Switches for IEC61850 substation automation

This is a small group of products for use in "power substations" = in electric energy transmission and distribution.

Key features:

At the moment there are only two such products: EHG9508 and EHG-9512 = DIN-rail switches, 8-port and 12-port.
Variants of power supply input:

The R&D are working on a rackmount model called the RHG95xx series, which should have a greater number of ports, all power input variants dual-redundant and independently isolated, and a quality HW implementation of the Boundary Clock, with support for "telecom profiles" - i.e. this machine won't be IEC61850-only.

As far as dual-redundant and independently isolated power input is concerned, this alone is also available in existing RHG75xx/76xx families, for general industrial use, in 19"/1U form factor.

Managed switches with optional PoE

ATOP's portfolio of switches for general industrial use consists of a number of individual models and variants. The variety stems from the following parameters:

The 19" models include a variant with redundant power input with the two branches independently isolated. (When eyeing a particular model, feel free to confirm this with us or with ATOP techsupport, if you depend on that feature.)
With the smaller DIN-rail switches, the standard is obviously a dual power input passively joined by a double Graetz bridge, i.e. lacking mutual isolation between the input branches. It is a typical cheap solution, sufficient for many use cases.

PoE is present as an optional feature in a large part of ATOP's switch portfolio - and it's strictly 802.3af/at compliant. Which means that also the Powered Device (a camera, wifi radio or some such) must be 802.3af/at compliant (passive splitters won't work).

The managed PoE switch can be configured to turn the PoE power on or off per port, and reports per-port PoE status: apart from on/off it also measures the instantaneous voltage and current per port.

In general it seems that ATOP prefers not to put an internal step-up DC/DC converter inside a switch, for 802.3af/at PoE.
This implies, that (although switches without PoE have a fairly wide power supply input range),
PoE switches by ATOP typically require an external supply of 48V nominal.
Which has the advantage, that it no longer needs to be debated, how much power is available to the attached PoE Powered Devices, and what the switch thermals will look like as a consequence. With an external PSU, the switch will just feed them all and won't even break a sweat, as all the electric power will just "pass through the switch" without notable losses.
Also, if several years down the road the external PoE PSU dies, it's just a commodity PSU, easily replaced, and the expensive switch lives on!
In 19" PoE switches, there are even PSU variants, where the "switch core" has a dedicated (dual redundant) power input, side by side with a (dual redundant) 48V input for PoE = the nominal voltages of both power systems can be different, and incidents in PoE power do not endanger the switch core and management functionality.
If you aim for maximum power to be available to the powered devices, consider tweaking the output voltage of the external PSU towards the upper tolerance limit of the standard and your PSU, i.e. 55 V or thereabouts. Many DIN-rail PSU's have a tweakable knob (bolt head) for this, next to the output terminals. The increase in voltage will allow for a lower current and will thus indirectly suppress the loss percentage a little, that occurs in contact resistances and in the CATx wiring's own resistance. This measure is even presumed in the tables of specified maximum power levels in the 802.3at spec.
(The power input arrangement described above, i.e. with a mandatory external source of 48V for PoE, may not be set in stone across the whole portfolio. When in doubt, feel free to ask.)

Railway switches, EN50155 and EN50121-4 compliant

Several ATOP switch models in various mechanical form factors have recently passed the tests for EN50155 (railway rolling stock) and EN50121-4 (railway track-side use):

Other product groups

ATOP makes several other product groups:

ATOP product naming conventions

With ATOP, the product names (ordering codes) follow some straightforward conventions:


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Last update: May 29th 2018