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Card connects PCs to any industrial Ethernet network
Published:  04 March, 2015

The Swedish industrial communications specialist HMS Industrial Networks has announced a plug-in card that that can connect a PC to any industrial Ethernet network. The IXXAT INpact is a PCIe card that support numerous industrial Ethernet standards using a uniform protocol and a card-spanning API (application programming interface).

Previously, says HMS, it has been complicated to develop PC-based measurement, visualisation or other applications that support several industrial Ethernet standards, because different interface cards and APIs have been needed for each protocol. The new card is designed to solve this problem.

The card, available in standard and low-profile formats, is based on HMSí Anybus and IXXAT technologies. It allows users to connect PC-based slave applications to EtherCat, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP, Profinet IRT/RT, Powerlink or standard TCP/IP.

The uniform driver allows users to switch between protocols quickly and without extensive programming. They can also upgrade easily to future protocol extensions and developments.

The network connection is based on HMSí Anybus CompactCom technology, already used in millions of automation devices around the world. An Anybus NP40 processor, used with a flexible FPGA-based PCIe bus connection, handles communications between the industrial Ethernet network and PC-based applications. The system is said to offer low latency and a deterministic real-time behaviour.

The two-port Ethernet interface (10/100 Mbit, RJ-45s), supports protocol-specific switch functions such as IRT for Profinet, DLR for EtherNet/IP and Hub for Powerlink.

HMS' IXXAT INpact card allows PCs to connect to any industrial Ethernet network

A flash-update function allows users to download any industrial Ethernet protocol without switching cards. This is claimed to make the IXXAT INpact card future-proof and adaptable for any application.

The card comes with a Windows driver package, enabling simple and rapid development of applications. The uniform API makes it possible to switch between industrial Ethernet protocols without changing the user software.

A Linux driver is planned and real-time operating systems, such as RTX, Intime, VxWorks and QNX, will be supported on request. The IXXAT INpact card will be available soon in PCI bus and mini-PCIe versions.