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CC-Link IE now compatible with 100Mbit Ethernet devices

08 December 2016

CLPA announced an addition to CC-Link IE that will enable device vendors to easily add CC-Link IE compatibility to any product with a 100Mbit Ethernet port.

CC-Link IE Field Network Basic (or “Basic Mode”) is easily implemented on devices or master controllers by software alone, enabling compatibility to be added to existing products without any hardware modification. This significantly reduces the cost of development and time to market.

CC-Link IE was the first, and is still the only open industrial Ethernet protocol offering gigabit speeds and the high bandwidth required in modern data-critical, real-time applications. As such it has become a de-facto protocol for businesses looking to optimise productivity and future-proof their operations in line with anticipated increases in data transmission required by an Industry 4.0 production environment. However, there are products and lower level applications where the benefits of gigabit performance are still being understood, so CLPA has responded with Basic Mode which can be implemented on any existing 100Mbit device.

John Browett, General Manager of CLPA Europe, explains: “While CC-Link IE has become an established technology leader, 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. 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 & UDP/IP, it blends seamlessly with other Ethernet-based technologies (including switches, cables, connectors and wireless systems), and means that implementation on existing 100Mbit Ethernet devices can be achieved purely through software development. Furthermore, a master controller for the network is also purely software based, so any industrial PC or other Ethernet equipped controller can be rapidly deployed to run a Basic Mode network without the need for any special interface cards, driver development or other additional work.

To simplify implementation of Basic Mode, CLPA is offering sample code free of charge to CLPA members. Moreover, key CLPA partners such as Balluff, CKD, Hilscher, IDEC, Mitsubishi Electric, Molex, Phoenix Contact and Renesas Electronics are now considering product development. To encourage other companies to support this new technology, the CLPA is announcing a special campaign where companies who develop a CC-Link IE Field Network Basic product can get free product certification from the CLPA until the end of October 2017.

“This latest development really 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. It will clearly offer additional business opportunities whether a company is planning sales in Europe, or in Asia, where CC-Link IE has been an established technology for years.”

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