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Developed Beckhoff Automation GmbH
Standard IEC 61158
User organization EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG)
Market Europe, America, Asia
…is an Ethernet-based system according to the IEEE802.3 standard.EtherCAT substitutes the classical star topology of the Ethernet with an easy to build up line topology. Drop lines are supported.

On the master side any standard Ethernet Controller is sufficient. No dedicated hardware is required. Therefore EtherCAT is suitable for small and medium control level applications.

The EtherCAT technology allows realization of control concepts, that are not possible with the use of classical fieldbusses. EtherCAT exploits the performance of present industrial PCs.

System data
Max. devices 65535 Slaves
Max. baud rate 2 x 100 Mbaud (Full-Duplex) Ethernet
Max. extension Ethernet:
100 m between 2 nodes (Twisted pair Cabling)
Bus access Initiated by Master
Max. I/O data 4 Gbyte Process data image in master
I/O connection: cyclic,
Cross communication
Communication: Master / Master
Master / Slave
Slave / Slave
Message channel: Max. 1484 Bytes user data per Ethernet Frame
In opposite to standard Ethernet the frames are processed by the slaves „on the fly“. This leads to a delay time of less bit times per slave. The “Processing on the fly” - technology requires dedicated slave controllers, such as special ASICs or FPGA solutions. The master is able to address 65535 different slaves. Broadcast, Multicast and Slave-to-Slave communication are supported.

On application layer EtherCAT uses the CANopen protocol (“CANopen over EtherCAT”) The „Ethernet over EtherCAT“ protocol allows the use of current Internet technologies like TCP/IP within the acyclic channel.

With the method of “Distributed Clocks” all slaves can be synchronized with a jitter of significantly less than 1 microsecond.

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