netX 90 communication controller mounted on a circuit board.
empowering communication

The technology behind netX


Different standards, different ways of working and non-compatible transmission mechanisms—industrial communication with its numerous protocols is a complex field. When you choose Hilscher and netX, you're getting technology you can rely on from experienced experts in the field who know what matters most.

Complex development projects, high-risk investments, lengthy certification processes and the reliability of your own solution—those don't have to be your concerns. You can focus on your core competencies while we look after your systems' communication.

netX technology is the foundation for many of our products and as such is central to our day-to-day work. That's why we're constantly improving the technology with a large team of talented developers. We are also committed to providing solutions based on open standards, which is why we work together with leading associations such as the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance.


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 PROFINET IRT and 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

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.


xPECProtocol Execution ControllerMIILocal Data SwitchEthernet to further channelsEthernetFieldbusFieldbusMicrocodeMicrocodeRPU(receive processing unit)xMACMedia Access MicrocodeFIFOFIFOTPECTransmit ProtocolExecutionControllerTPU(transmit processing unit)RegisterRPECReceive ProtocolExecutionControllerMicrocodeDMPDataMemory
Programmable multi-processor system

The highly flexible and programmable multi-processor architecture allows dual and multi-port architectures for your solutions.

Ein netX-Chip auf einer cifX-PC-Karte von Hilscher
Protocol-specific sets of commands

The command sets of the netX communication controllers are specifically designed for the OSI architecture. MAC processors handle the standard-dependent protocol tasks at Layer 2. The protocol processors handle the protocol-specific part for Layers 3 and 4.

Communication controllers and printed circuit boards are extensively tested at Hilscher in Germany.
Flexible use

Local data buses and shared registers connect these processors to non-blocking industrial Ethernet switches, which support both classic “store and forward” and “cut through” functionalities.

A sensor transmits data easily and flexibly to a communication network using the netFIELD Device IO-Link Wireless Bridge.
Future-proof technology

From legacy systems to future network standards such as time sensitive networking (TSN) or single pair Ethernet (SPE) — with netX you and your systems are well positioned for the future

Hilscher is committed to open standards and flexible solutions in leading associations such as the OI4.
Unified interfaces

We make netX easy to use for our customers. Hilscher offers the widest range of protocols on the market for network controllers and devices

Hilscher employee using tweezers on an electrical component.
Advantages of netX technology
Flexible solution

Connection to all fieldbus and Real-Time Ethernet systems with one chip family

Easy integration

Comprehensive product support and development services

Future-proof investment

Long-term availability and expertise from the market leader in industrial communication

For you as a user, that means:
  • Being connected everywhere - One technology for all common fieldbus and Real-Time Ethernet standards
  • Scalable - Dual and multi-port configurations as network controller and device available
  • Future-proof - 100 Mbit communication today, Gigabit and single-pair Ethernet tomorrow
  • Flexible - Programmable architecture – requires only a software update to make modifications such as a change in protocols
  • Easy to integrate - Drivers, stacks and firmware from a single source
  • Compatible - netX solutions are extensively tested at Hilscher – certifiable devices are quickly and easily implemented


Still have questions? You might find these pages interesting!
Multiprotocol SoCs

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.

netX 52 chips mounted on printed circuit boards.
Firmware (NXLFW)

Our netX technology enables machines around the globe to communicate reliably and flexibly with each other. The chips are often in the foreground, but it is our flexible loadable firmware NXLFW that makes them so unique and multiprotocol capable.

Teaser picture Icon protocol stacks NXLFW
Stacks for Industrial Ethernet & Fieldbus

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.