empowering communication

netX: Core Technology

Different protocol standards for Ethernet and fieldbuses, different modes of operation and data models, incompatible transmission mechanisms—industrial communication is exceedingly complex.
In the early 2000s, our founder, Hans-Jürgen Hilscher, thought it would be ideal if field device manufacturers would all use a single hardware platform that was compatible with all possible communication protocols. Based on this idea, the netX technology was born and became the standard for multiprotocol industrial communication. Since then, Hilscher has been coming up with solutions to reduce the complexity of developing and certifying your own devices. This allows you to cut your costs considerably for developing, warehousing and logistics.

The netX technology is based on a patented programmable switch architecture consisting of Hilscher’s own interconnected CPU cluster. We supply the HAL drivers and firmware stack, which are used to adapt the netX platform to the applicable communication standard. This means that you can easily connect your field device to different controllers with a simple firmware change, without having to design and build new hardware.

Sounds easy? It is, and just as easy to deploy. Our engineers are also active members of all the relevant technology associations, so we’re always on the cutting edge when it comes to the latest standards. We integrate all the latest standards into our product portfolio so that you benefit from regular updates, keeping your machines up to date and at the cutting edge of technology

Flexible Switch Architecture netX - 100Mbit

Each netX chip is based on a highly flexible and programmable multiprocessor system. Since the standards of fieldbus and Real-Time Ethernet systems differ significantly from one another in the different OSI layers, individual processing of the data structure is required. Layer 2 processors take care of the MAC layer and protocol processors take care of the higher layers of the OSI model.

Hilscher has developed corresponding microcodes for all major protocols. Our protocol stacks transform the multi-processor architecture into a switch that mediates at both the MAC and data link levels. This allows you to operate all protocols with one chip, simply by exchanging the netX protocol stacks.

Compatibility challenge

Compatibility of different data models is one of the biggest challenges facing industrial communication. Consider the OSI model, for instance: fieldbuses only define layers 1, 2 and 7. Physical connections and, in some cases, data frames are specific to each fieldbus standard.

Industrial Ethernet distinguishes basically between two types: one variant uses standard Ethernet hardware, for example, Ethernet/IP or Modbus TCP. Here, the specific functionality only comes into play above the MAC layer.

Other variants already modify the MAC layer and use, for example, TDMA methods for traffic assignment in order to achieve significantly improved deterministic data transfer. This is the case, for example, for industrial protocols used by like PROFINET IRT or EtherCAT. Our netX technology combines all these standards in one chip.

For you, that means just one piece of hardware for all protocols.

Transport LayerSession LayerPresentation LayerApplication LayerNetwork LayerDataLink LayerPhysical LayerModified Ethernethardware-based RTEHTTP, SNMP, SMTP, FTP, LDAP and similarIE Protocols likePROFINET, EtherCAT, ...Specific Real-Timehardware and functions(for example PROFINETIRT, Sercos, EtherCAT,Powerlink or TSN)Ethernet PHYTransport LayerSession LayerPresentation LayerApplication LayerNetwork LayerDataLink LayerPhysical LayerLegacy FieldbusStandard Ethernethardware-based RTEIP-Multicast IPEthernet MACEthernet PHYHTTP, SNMP, SMTP, FTP, LDAP and similarIE Protocols likePROFINET RT, EtherNet/IP(CIP), Modbus, ...UDPTCP
Learn more about netX!

Overview of our netX communication controllers. As a highly integrated solution, they allow you to flexibly integrate your machines and production systems into your network regardless of the network standard. We provide hardware, software, certification and support from a single source.

Hilscher offers hardware and software for industrial communication tasks from a single source. Our protocol stacks make your netX the most flexible communication solution on the market. Find out more in our overview.

Employee soldering an electrical component at Hilscher.

Together with our partners, we provide comprehensive support for you both in Germany and at our international locations. We accompany you in every phase of your products' lifecycle, give you ideas and impulses, think ahead and recognize problems before they arise.