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ETG accepts Beckhoff’s 10Gb/s EtherCat

25 October, 2019

The EtherCat Technology Group (ETG) has accepted Beckhoff Automation’s 1Gb/s and 10Gb/s versions of EtherCat – known as EtherCat G and G10 – as additions to its official EtherCat standard. Beckhoff announced the development of the high-speed variants at the SPS show in Germany last year and, following a “thorough review”, ETG’s Technical Committee has now decided to accept them into the standard.

“EtherCat is already the fastest industrial Ethernet fieldbus, and will remain so due to its special functional principle,” says Dr Guido Beckmann, chairman of the ETG’s Technical Committee. “With EtherCat G, particularly data-hungry applications – such as machine vision and high-end measurement technology – can now also be integrated. This extends the range of applications for EtherCat technology and makes it even more viable for the future.”

For most applications, the standard 100Mb/s EtherCat technology will remain the most suitable version. However, in applications where large amounts of data must be transported per device, EtherCat G might be more appropriate. As well as machine vision, these could include complex motion controls applications that go beyond the scope of classic drive controls.

As an extension of standard EtherCat technology, EtherCat G is compatible with existing devices designed for 100Mb/s operation. These can be can be integrated into an EtherCat G system, or EtherCat G devices integrated into a 100Mb/s EtherCat system, where they will behave like standard EtherCat devices.

EtherCat G is compatible with the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard and does not need any software adaptions in controllers.

The key element of EtherCat G is its use of EtherCat “branch controllers”, which have two main functions: they act as nodes for integrating segments from 100Mb/s devices; and they enable parallel processing of the connected EtherCat segments. This is said to reduce propagation delays in the system “significantly”, increasing system performance many times over previous levels.

An example of a network incorporating standard EtherCat, EtherCat G and EtherCat G10 segments for faster communications and greater data throughput.
Image: Beckhoff Automation

The ETG is currently working to add EtherCat G (the 1Gb/s version) and G10 (the 10Gb/s version) to its technology specifications.

“The advantages of EtherCat are well-known and include processing on-the-fly, comprehensive diagnostics, simple configuration and integrated synchronisation,” says Beckmann. “These attributes are, of course, fully retained when EtherCat G is used.”

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