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empowering communication

netX: Firmware Overview

netX not only represents Hilscher's chip technology, but even more it stands for the idea of multi-protocol capability in a single communication solution, consisting both of hardware and software.

Our protocol firmware is the result of HIlscher's core competence and expertise in communications technology. It has evolved over the years into a large portfolio of control and device protocol stacks accompanied by tools for simple and certifiable integration of your automation product into different networks.
Our commitment and contribution to numerous technical working groups and committees of communication standards is a key benefit to you as our customer. Our firmware is always state-of-the-art and is continuously maintained to latest technical advancements.

Our firmware architecture

At Hilscher you get network controllers and the corresponding firmware for any industrial protocol from one source. Perfectly aligned to each other and highly performant.

Performance-optimized architecture

The architecture of our firmware is designed for low-latency and fast response, and the netX hardware has been designed accordingly. As a result, hardware and software fit together perfectly.
The latest netX controllers have their own communication CPU that operates the so called "loadable firmware" – our stack software. This means that reloading the protocol stack is sufficient to adapt your netX chip to a new communication standard.

Each communication protocol firmware has its own release with corresponding maintenance and versioning, so that you always know which version a device operates in the field. The Hardware Abstraction Layer configures the real-time switch inside netX to match all protocol requirements. The data is then divided depending on whether it is standard Ethernet data or real-time data. This means that time-critical I/O data and acyclic data in particular can be processed with priority. Standard Ethernet data, such as from a simple web server as well as HTTP data, are processed via a separate data channel.

The data mapping in the dual port memory is divided into channels according to memory areas. These memory areas can be written or read from your customer application on the netX 90 via the built-in application CPU using the internal DPM interface. Alternatively, you can access the DPM memory and data via the serial or parallel host interface or, in upcoming netX generations, also via PCIe.

On the user side, there is always the same interface called cifX API, regardless of whether you integrate our communication solution as a chip, design-in our embedded modules or use our PC cards. With the cifX API you access the Driver, System Channel and Communication Channel functions and have access to the respective data. You will have this firmware architecture in a similar form as object code in generations 1 and 2 of our netX family (netX 51/52). From generation 3 (netX 90) onwards we provide the communication firmware in its own CPU, so that you as a user can carry out maintenance much more easily.

Your benefits
Certified master solutions from the market leader

In addition to slave implementations, we also offer master licenses for your solutions.

Less development costs for you

Master and slave firmware versions use the same interfaces, which saves you time and costs in your development.

Complementary tools

We provide you with the engineering and configuration tools SYCON.net and communicationSTUDIO free of charge.

Learn more about our technology
A hand in a white glove holds an embedd module from Hilscher. Mounted on the green square module is a netX 52.

Each netX chip is based on a highly flexible and programmable multiprocessor system. It allows dual and multiport architectures for your solution. Find out how it works.

Teaser picture Icon protocol stacks NXLFW

Our NXLFW firmware is the heart of every netX SoC and netX SoC-based products. It ensures that you can handle all industrial communication protocols with just a single piece of hardware—and all that with only a single software update.

The NXHX evaluation boards for our netX chips are the most effective way to evaluate the integration of your applications into different communication networks. This allows you to start developing your application even before the hardware design has been determined, shortening your time to market.