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Beckhoff EtherCAT - XtremeFastControl XFC

Supplier: ESM Australia

Real-time Ethernet: Ultra high-speed right up to the terminal


Outstanding performance, flexible topology and simple configuration characterise EtherCAT (Ethernet for control automation technology), the real-time Ethernet technology from Beckhoff. EtherCAT sets new standards where conventional fieldbus systems reach their limits: 1,000 distributed I/Os in 30 µs, almost unlimited network size, and optimum vertical integration thanks to Ethernet and internet technologies.

With EtherCAT, the costly Ethernet star topology can be replaced with a simple line or tree structure – no expensive infrastructure com­ponents are required. All types of Ethernet devices can be integrated via a switch or switch port.

Where other real-time Ethernet approaches require special master or scanner cards, EtherCAT manages with very cost-effective standard Ethernet interface cards.

EtherCAT components

On the hardware side, EtherCAT technology is located in EtherCAT Terminals, for example. The I/O system in protection class IP 20 is based on the housing of the tried and tested Beckhoff Bus Terminal system. In contrast to Bus Terminals, where the fieldbus protocol data is converted within the Bus Coupler to the internal, fieldbus-independent terminal bus, the EtherCAT protocol remains fully intact down to the individual terminal. In addition to EtherCAT Terminals with E-bus connection, the proven standard Bus Terminals with K-bus connection can also be connected via the BK1120 EtherCAT Bus Coupler. This ensures compatibility and continuity with the prevalent system. Existing and future investments are protected.

EtherCAT will be integrated in further Beckhoff components, such as the Fieldbus Box in protection class IP 67. The Beckhoff Industrial PCs, the Embedded PCs of the CX series, the Control Panels with control functionality, and the Ethernet PCI cards already offer inherent EtherCAT capability. The Beckhoff Servo Drives are also available with EtherCAT interface.

EtherCAT – Ultra high-speed for automationHighlights
  • Ethernet up to the terminal – complete continuity
  • Ethernet process interface scalable from 1 bit to 64 kbyte
  • first true Ethernet solution for the field level

  • 256 digital I/Os in 12 µs
  • 1,000 digital I/Os in 30 µs
  • 200 analog I/Os (16 bit) in 50 µs, corresponding to 20 kHz sampling rate
  • 100 servo axes in 100 µs
  • 12,000 digital I/Os in 350 µs
  • throughput: 10 Mbyte/s, distributed to 1,500 devices

  • line, tree or star topology
  • up to 65,535 devices
  • network size: almost unlimited (> 500 km)
  • operation with or without switches
  • cost-effective cabling: standard Ethernet patch cable (CAT5)
  • twisted pair physical layer:
  • Ethernet 100BASE-TX, up to 100 m between 2 devices
  • alternative: fibre-optic cable variants 50 to 2,000 m
  • hot connect/disconnect of bus segments

Address space
  • network-wide process image: 4 Gbyte
  • device process image: 1 bit to 64 kbyte
  • address allocation: freely configurable
  • device address selection: automatically via software

  • optimised protocol directly within the Ethernet frame
  • fully hardware-implemented
  • for routing and socket interface: UDP datagram
  • processing while passing
  • distributed clock for accurate synchronisation
  • time stamp data types for resolution in the nanosecond range
  • oversampling data types for high-resolution measurements

  • breaking point detection
  • continuous “quality of line” measurement enables accurate localisation of transmission faults

  • switch terminal for standard Ethernet devices
  • fieldbus terminals for fieldbus devices
  • decentralised serial interfaces
  • communication gateways

  • fully Ethernet-compatible
  • operation with switches and routers possible
  • mixed operation with other protocols also possible
  • internet technologies (web server, FTP, etc.)
  • compatible with the existing Bus Terminal range
  • protocol is published completely
  • EtherCAT is IEC specification.

EtherCAT Technology Group

  • international pool of companies
  • includes users and manufactures
  • supports technology development
  • guarantees interoperability
  • integration of device profiles

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