Articles and Reports

Equipment for electrical substations

Advantech was one of the first enterprises to demonstrate virtualised environments for electrical substations. They recently showcased an electrical substation system that combined both virtual communications and virtual automation based on an Advantech ECU-579 2U power automation server platform optimized for virtualization. ECU-579 supports high performance and long system lifecycles required by the industry.

Processing capability and reliability

The substation automation infrastructure was built around the ECU-579 power automation server, which uses server-grade CPUs running up to 20 x Intel® Xeon® processor cores in a single 2U 19” (482.6mm) rackmount unit. For ultimate reliability, ECU-579 has TÜV IEC 61850-3 and IEEE 1613 certification plus

  • 2 x redundant hot-swappable PSUs
  • 4 x redundant hot-swappable fan cage modules

Solid stability built to last

Stability comes in the form of long MTBF. Data redundancy and protection is taken care of through a choice of redundant array of independent disks (RAID). Configurations include:

  • 4x HDD/SSD: RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
  • Hot-pluggable SATA Hard Drive

ECU-579 2U power automation server platform delivers ultimate reliability and solid stability for centralized substation control solutions.

Manageability and security

ECU-579 supports Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI function initiated by Advantech ASMB-BMC module). System administrators can use IPMI messaging to monitor platform status (temperatures, voltages, fans, PSUs, and chassis intrusion). There is also an alerting mechanism for the system to warn admins to perform recovery procedures. Security is further enhanced with support for SMTP v2.0/v3.0, TPM2.0 module and secure boot.


ECU-579 maximizes application performance with an optimal mix of accelerator cards. This allows flexible expansion for additional PCIe x4/x8/x16 cards and support for ECU-P cards with COM/DIO/LAN.


ECU-579 supports VMware virtualization and VT-x for running multiple OS including Windows 10 and Windows server 2016/2019 and independent partitions all on a single computer. Cache allocation technology is also supported (CAT).

Flexible application performance

This processing capacity with redundant architecture was ideal for operating a virtualisation environment in electrical substations. A digital substation, with the flexibility to add in new functions as they are needed at any time during the lifetime of substation was made possible within a virtualised environment using ECU-579. Hot-swap hardware and software upgrades can be managed remotely for large numbers of substations. Overall, the system benefits from economies of scale, modularity, and greater efficiency, which allows the easy replication of the virtual architecture for new substations which can be added to the grid at any time.

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