Computer/Embedded Technology


Passing data between ARCNET and Ethernet - a tech update

5 June 2002 Computer/Embedded Technology

We are often asked for a device to communicate between ARCNET and Ethernet. Satisfying these requests usually requires custom engineering.

ARCNET and ethernet work at the data link and physical layers of the OSI model. Thus, no transport protocol is defined for either and each moves data in a different way - giving rise to difficult communication issues.

ARCNET uses 1 byte addressing (specified during device installation), but Ethernet uses a 6 byte address programmed in ROM during manufacture. Also, the maximum Ethernet message size is 1500 bytes, compared to 508 bytes for ARCNET. Since Ethernet messages require no acknowledgement, they can be sent to nonexistent or disabled devices. Thus, Ethernet bridges (or switches) are easy to construct. But ARCNET requires a handshake before transmission and an acknowledgement afterward-which increases reliability, but makes bridge construction difficult.

ARCNET-to-Ethernet routers can offer connectivity if both LANs use the same network protocol such as IP or IPX, but ARCNET installations use neither.

Generic ARCNET-to-Ethernet gateways do not exist and custom units are costly to develop. Special gateways are designed to retransmit Ethernet TCP/IP messages to the ARCNET LAN and to retransmit ARCNET messages to one or more Ethernet devices. The TCP/IP data simply encapsulates the ARCNET packet and destination ID.

The ARCNET user's group (AUG) has proposed a standardardised ARCNET and Ethernet gateway which contemporary controls intends to support. Information in this activity can be found at: www.arcnet.de/download/arcnetIPGateway.pdf

For further information contact Electronic Products Design, 012 665 9700.





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