Big PROFINET News from SPS/IPC/Drives 2007

The SPS/IPC/Drives show is much larger than our shows in North America (43,000 visitors compared to ISA’s 8,500 attendees).  In fact, the whole ISA Expo would fit in one of this fair’s 9 halls.  The nomenclature is a little different, too.  Americans say “show” while Europeans say “fair.”  Americans describe things “in the booth” while Europeans say “on the stand.”  To get an idea of the scale of the stand as well as some additional news, visit this report’s photo page.

There are generally many press conferences at the fair and this year was no exception.  The biggest news of the fair was from the PI press conference.  A recent university study sponsored by the German government compared the performance of PROFINET and EtherCAT.  Since EtherCAT’s main claim to fame is their speed it was surprising to find that in all but the smallest systems, PROFINET was faster!  This is due to the fact that EtherCAT must use a line topology where PROFINET can use line, star, or tree.  Larger systems benefit from a mixture of line and star (that is, tree), benefiting PROFINET.  PROFINET benefits because PROFINET Ethernet telegrams can be sent directly from the source to the target while EtherCAT Ethernet telegrams must travel through every node.  Additional advancements to PROFINET were also announced that will erase EtherCAT’s performance advantage in small systems.  The study results were reported in a paper titled “Limits of Increasing the Performance of Industrial Ethernet Protocols” at the 12th IEEE Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation.

Although I did not attend them, there was additional networking news from other organizations’ press conferences.  From ODVA’s website, I see three press releases.  One is run-of-the-mill news about specs being updated.  One is about opening a new test lab in China and the final one is about integrating Modbus TCP.  When it opens, their Chinese test lab will be there 4th.  (By way of comparison, PI has 10 already.)  Apparently, the Modbus TCP integration uses a translation scheme that resides in the end devices.  I thought I heard that EtherCAT had a press conference, but I found no new press releases on their website.