While most engineers argue Ethernet TCP/IP is inappropriate for an I/O bus, Gerd Hoppe, President of Beckhoff North America, says his company is going in the opposite direction with its new product RTEthernet—introduced in Europe in November 2002 and just now available here in the U.S. Beckhoff 's software engineers, old hands at tinkering with the Windows operating system, have devised a way to communicate directly with a standard COTS Ethernet controller card using short, 7-microsecond telegrams. One of these tiny telegrams could contain the status of as many as 368 I/O points. Regular TCP messages are held temporarily in a buffer while the telegrams pass through the system. Aptly described as an "onion ring" design, it can encapsulate any fieldbus protocol inside its Ethernet telegrams, giving RTEthernet potential compatibility with dozens of different fieldbus systems.
With a better understanding of materials’ response to load and temperature, researchers could potentially use the knowledge to improve design. The research could even help geologists studying plate tectonics.
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