‘Basic’ 100Mbit version of CC-Link IE will cut costs
CLPA – the CC-Link Partner Association – has announced an addition to its CC-Link IE protocol that will allow device vendors to add CC-Link IE compatibility to any product with a 100Mbit Ethernet port. The new version, known as CC-Link IE Field Network Basic – or “Basic Mode” – can be implemented on devices or master controllers using software alone, allowing it to be added to existing products without making any hardware modifications. CLPA says that this will reduce the cost of development and time-to-market “significantly”.
CLPA claims that CC-Link IE is still the only open industrial Ethernet protocol to offer Gigabit data transmission speeds and the high bandwidth needed in data-critical, real-time applications. But there are products and lower-level applications where Gigabit performance is not essential, so CLPA has responded with Basic Mode which can be implemented on any 100Mbit device.
“It is clear that while some device-makers are undoubtedly interested in the benefits offered by CC-Link IE’s core technology, for various reasons they are not ready to support a Gigabit physical layer,” explains CLPA’s general manager for Europe, John Browett. “In some cases, this is because of the communication platform that their products are currently based on, in others it will be because their products are targeted at a level in the market where Gigabit performance is still a future requirement. Basic Mode addresses all these kinds of issues by bringing accessibility to the network and its benefits without the need to support the Gigabit physical layer.”
Because Basic Mode’s stack is compatible with TCP/IP and UDP/IP, it blends with other Ethernet-based technologies – such as switches, cables, connectors and wireless systems – and allows implementation on existing 100Mbit Ethernet devices purely through software development. In addition, a master controller for the network is also software-based, so any industrial PC or other Ethernet-equipped controller can run a Basic Mode network without needing special interface cards, drivers or other work.
To simplify the implementation of Basic Mode, CLPA is providing sample code free-of-charge to CLPA members, and is offering free certification to companies that develop CC-Link IE Field Network Basic products before the end of October 2017. Mitsubishi has already announced that it is releasing more than 200 products that will support the new version, and others, including Balluff, Hilscher, Idec, Molex and Phoenix Contact, are said to be considering developing compatible products.
“This latest development rounds off the scope of what CLPA offers, opening up even lower-end, smaller-scale systems to CC-Link IE via 100Mbit Ethernet,” says Browett. “At the same time, compatibility with conventional Gigabit CC-Link IE technology opens up the possibility of combining different network types according to application requirements.”