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Media Corner
21 December 2016

One system holds the key to the operation of the biggest fusion device

A. Cabrita Neto (right),F4E & B. Bauvir (left), ITER IO verifying the correct integration of the technology during a JET experiment. The real-time communication system will also be used for ITER

A network system in the ITER machine will be used for the real-time communication between different ITER diagnostics, actuators and the plasma control system allowing scientists to monitor and control the operation of the machine.

The real-time communication system has been developed by ITER IO and uses a cutting edge technology. As an example, the exchange of data on the magnetics measurements of the plasma allows the plasma control system to compute and control the plasma shape and size accordingly to the scientist’s needs (e.g. by moving or shrinking the plasma or by increasing/decreasing the power to be delivered by one of the additional heating systems).

The system is based on Gigabit Ethernet, the same technology that is used in offices and houses around the world to connect devices to the internet. ITER has developed a software stack that guarantees synchronisation with errors that are well below 0.0001 seconds. The real-time feature of the system must ensure an extremely reliable performance in terms of guaranteeing that this data is delivered with-in a given bounded period (repetitively thousands of times per second) . So far the system has been successfully used in JET and in the Korean tokamak (K-STAR).

As well as being used to transmit information between different ITER systems, F4E has taken the use of this real-time communication platform one step further by adapting it to inter-connect in real-time different components that are being designed and integrated by F4E. For example, the Electron-cyclotron plant consists of 24 different gyrotrons and this network can be used to monitor and control the information coming from each individual gyrotron control systems.

 “This sharing of technology saves us both time and money, enabling us to gather real-time information and control the ITER sub-systems at various levels”, says André Cabrita Neto, F4E Technical Officer dealing with fast control technologies for ITER. “Indeed using the technology within systems that have internal interfaces with components delivered by other ITER Domestic Agencies promotes uniformity and greatly reduces the risk of integration problems”, concludes Filippo Sartori, F4E CODAC group leader.