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ODVA attempts to create an industrial Ethernet standard

01 May, 2000

ODVA attempts to create an industrial Ethernet standard

The Open DeviceNet Vendors Association (ODVA) has announced plans for a version of Ethernet tailored for industrial applications.

It claims that by combining commercially available Ethernet hardware with an industrially proven application layer, it will be able to deliver interoperable Ethernet products from a choice of suppliers - something which, it asserts, has not been available until now.

Although there has been considerable discussion about using Ethernet for industrial communications, it has not progressed much further than talk until now, contends ODVA executive director Bill Moss.

"This is the first solution that provides the communication services and benefits essential for today`s industrial environment."

He adds that it is supported by "a who`s who list of leading industrial manufacturers". Until now, most industrial Ethernet proposals have been based on the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) system which guarantees only that two devices can transfer data between one another.

"To ensure that the communication is understood and effective, a common application layer is required," says ODVA chief technical officer, Nick Jones.

"Ethernet TCP/IP by itself cannot describe data types, syntax, operations or network visible behaviour, for example".

By using the same application layer as is used both by DeviceNet and by ControlNet, ODVA claims that can offer communications without the costly gateways that other systems need to link to the network. It points out that the existing protocols are already supported by more than 500 interoperable products from more than 400 suppliers around the world.

The ODVA calls its system Ethernet/IP, where the IP stands for Industrial Protocol. It plans to provide software containing the Ethernet/IP and example code free via the Internet by the summer. Conformance testing will start in the autumn at laboratories in the US, Japan and Coventry.

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