Latest from the Ethernet field-bus turf battle (www.designnews.com/article/ca371404) finds Beckhoff Automation reporting burgeoning numbers of customers and end-users signing up for its EtherCAT® Technology Group (http://rbi.ims.ca/3846-531). According to Jeff Brown, product marketing, since the group's formation was announced in November of last year, membership has grown to well over 50—with 43 of those coming aboard in the first 19 days.
The company announced the open real-time Ethernet network targeted at I/O level automation at the April 2003 Hannover Fair. In July last year, pre-series devices were testing at a press-application customer.
Next major event in fielding the network happens the 9th and 10th of this month at a conference in Raunheim, Germany to formulate the EtherCAT ASIC specification. The specs will be frozen in April in order to start ASIC development. Moving right along to May will see evaluation boards and starter kits becoming available along with publication of the complete EtherCAT protocol.
Brown notes that the first ASIC should be out in October 2004, with series production underway by the end of the year. "The ASIC will be available to everybody to guarantee interoperability," he adds.