Advanced Physical Layer for Ethernet has been about the only substantial Ethernet news of the past couple of years outside of TSN. Various German networking and instrumentation suppliers have been developing and evangelizing this standard for several years. This announcement of ODVA support opens this technology to the Rockwell Automation ecosystem along with other supporting companies.

Ethernet-APL is intrinsically safe, two-wire extension of 10BASE-T1L (IEEE 802.3cg-2019) Single Pair Ethernet that meets the requirements of the process industries. The advantages of Ethernet-APL include communication speeds of up to 10 Mbit/s, hazardous area protection, power to field instrumentation, and long cable runs of up to 1,000 meters (IEC 61158-2). Ethernet-APL devices adhere to IEC TS 60079-47 (2-Wire Intrinsically Safe Ethernet) in order to ensure “intrinsically safe” ignition protection. The Ethernet-APL physical layer overcomes the challenges of using fast, high bandwidth Ethernet at the field level in process plants with hazardous locations and a large geographic footprint.

ODVA has announced the EtherNet/IP Specification has been enhanced to enable EtherNet/IP networks to support the Ethernet-APL physical layer for process automation. Licensed Vendors for the EtherNet/IP technology can immediately start developing EtherNet/IP components for Ethernet-APL, including controllers, power switches, field switches, and instrumentation.

The addition of support for the Ethernet-APL physical layer is another key step in the adaptation of EtherNet/IP to meet the full requirements of the process industries. Completed enhancements for EtherNet/IP which benefit applications in the process industries include NAMUR NE 107 diagnostics, HART integration, IO-Link integration, and support for the next generation of digitized device description files, including FDT and FDI. Inclusion of the Ethernet-APL physical layer will allow for end users to take full advantage of the benefits of EtherNet/IP in process plants, including commercially-based industrial control hardware, an object-oriented foundation, and standard internet protocol compatibility including TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP, SNMP, and DHCP. With support for functional safety with CIP Safety, device defense with CIP Security, time synchronization with CIP Sync, and fault tolerant redundancy with parallel redundancy protocol (PRP) and Device Level Ring (DLR), process automation installations with EtherNet/IP can benefit from network and device health monitoring, built in security and safety, and remote device configuration.

The first Ethernet-APL controllers, power switches, field switches, and instrumentation that support EtherNet/IP are expected to be available in 2022 once the conformance testing certification process is complete.

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