NUREMBERG, Germany, April 27, 2023 – For the first time since EtherCAT was introduced 20 years ago, the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) is publishing node figures. Excluding modular I/O devices, ETG counts 59.1 million nodes, with recent growth being particularly impressive. Since 2014, growth has been exponential, with 18.4 million nodes added in 2022 alone.
These figures include EtherCAT chips sold in a respective year, though this does not include the chips for I/O terminals. This means that a modular I/O station counts as a single node, even if it consists of many more EtherCAT terminals.
"The chip numbers are accurate figures, but there is a certain time lag: not every chip becomes an installed EtherCAT device in the same calendar year," said Martin Rostan, Executive Director of the ETG, on the counting method.
Rostan is also in charge of all EtherCAT licensing, on the behalf of Beckhoff Automation. EtherCAT, similar to CAN, requires only the chip manufacturer to license their hardware, so the cost is included in the purchase of the EtherCAT chips. Beckhoff finances the ETG with the chip license income, and membership in the world’s largest fieldbus association is free of charge as a result.
"Because we don't know the exact unit numbers of FPGA IP core-based implementations, we have held back on publishing node numbers so far," Rostan said. "But the reported unit numbers of the current 12 EtherCAT chip vendors are now so large that any possible fuzziness in estimating FPGA numbers is no longer a factor: they enter the totals at less than 10%. We have also included multiprotocol chips in proportion to the market share of the protocols. Thus, the figures are based on very reliable sources and they are determined very conservatively: there are probably significantly more EtherCAT devices."
Except for 2019, when the automation market’s turbulence also affected EtherCAT unit numbers, growth has been exponential for several years. "Three years ago, we still believed in an upward outlier, but now the trend has solidified: the exponential growth continues," added Rostan. "The Asian market is developing the fastest, especially in China. But EtherCAT is also making better and better progress in North America. And in Europe, where the technology has its origins, EtherCAT has been going strong for quite some time."https://www.ethercat.org
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