The intelligence and complexity of sensors and actuators is steadily increasing, not only in the context of Industrie 4.0. Even the smallest sensors today have a powerful microcontroller and several thousand lines of software code. From time to time, firmware updates may be required, such as to allow new functionality or newly supported profiles that were not known at the time the device was developed. To meet these requirements, the IO-Link Community (PNO) specifies a firmware update profile.
IO-Link is currently the only communication protocol that supports a uniform firmware update mechanism manufacturer-independent. The firmware update profile is currently being implemented by various manufacturers of IO-Link devices and uses the newly developed Blob (Binary Large Objects) transfer for the transfer of large amounts of data. In the future, firmware updates will be easier and faster.
The manufacturer of the device provides a special file for the firmware update, which contains not only the actual device software but also additional information such as verification or information for the customer. With the IO-Link profile, tools for parameterizing the master for the firmware update can also be developed.
In order to guarantee a high degree of security with simultaneous simplicity, the profile was developed according to strict specifications. For example, new firmware images may only be written to compatible devices. In addition, updating the software must work in the field via standard IO-Link wiring. So no special IO-Link masters are necessary for this. Last but not least, the new software can only be written to the device - reading out is not possible. And if something really goes wrong with the transfer of the new software, each device offers a small boot loader to start the process a second time.