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CC-Link extends 1Gb Ethernet down to the field level

05 January, 2010

CC-Link, the Japanese-led industrial networking system, has been extended to support deterministic 1Gb/s transmissions on Cat 5e Ethernet cables at the sensor/actuator level. The new CC-Link IE field network extends the fibre-based IE controller network launched in 2007.

CC-Link IE field will allow field devices to be set or monitored from any point in a network. It can use line, star, ring or tree topologies with up 254 devices per network, and up to 100m between stations. As many as 239 networks can be connected together, allowing scaling to suit any application.

Communications between the various CC-Link networks (depicted above) is said to be seamless, with no hierarchies or boundaries. The controller and field networks can be used together or independently, and both can be integrated with CC-Link standard and safety networks.

The new field network allows high-speed control data and large-scale message communications to be transferred easily with determinism and minimal latency. The control data uses cyclic communications and distributed shared memory, while the messaging data uses transient acyclic communications.

The shared memory allows controllers to exchange data with each other in real time. This makes it possible for users to design communications set-ups by reading from, or writing to, the shared memory without needing a knowledge of the CC-Link IE protocol.

CC-Link communications are achieved over TCP/IP using a client/server protocol called SLMP, which can be implemented easily by third-party vendors into the firmware for 100Mb/s Ethernet devices. These devices can then access others via the network.

At the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show, the CC-Link Partners Association was demonstrating prototype field-level devices, prior to their launch later this year. The organisation says that there are now more than 1,000 certified CC-Link products from 200 suppliers, while the CLPA now has around 1,000 members, 59% of them outside of Japan. There is an installed base of about seven million CC-Link nodes, and the system accounts for about 20% of the Asia-Pacific industrial networking market. Europe’s first CC-Link conformance testing centre will open in Germany soon.

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