Using GigaBlox Nano in an Ethercat (star connection) topology

Copied from a customer query

We are using your gigablox nano - ethernet switch module with picoblade connector. My question is can we use this product for Ethercat communication in star connection topology. Do you have any experience on that?

GigaBlox Nano is, in terms of functionality, just a standard unmanaged gigabit ethernet switch. Thus the question here is really “can a standard ethernet switch be used to implement an ethercat star topology?”

The answer is not super clear, especially given than EtherCAT uses the same underlying IEEE 802.3 physical layer (source here). However the general idea of EtherCAT (and I am not an expert), is that it tends to be used in a daisy chain topology, where each device receives the full frame and appends data to it. In other words, each device must contain at least two ports, and each device probably already contains an ethernet switch internally.


Using GigaBlox Nano directly on an EtherCAT network is probably not going to work. While EtherCAT does use the same underlying physical layer, it uses an entirely different network topology. I believe there are devices that convert between EtherCAT and a standard ethernet network, you’d probably want to use that first before connecting the EtherCAT network to GigaBlox Nano.

Certainly to my knowledge, I don’t believe we have any customers using our products to directly implement EtherCAT. I could be wrong here, but I suspect it’s not possible. You’d need some software running on the switch to implement it, and GigaBlox Nano is a fairly simple device in that it just runs some firmware, but no actual software, and certainly no ability to read ethernet traffic beyond OSI layer 2.