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Developed by B&R in 2001, the real-time Industrial Ethernet protocol POWERLINK is characterized by cycle times in the microsecond range, universal applicability, and maximum network configuration flexibility. A completely patent-free, vendor-independent, and purely software-based real-time system, which has also been available free of charge as an open source version since 2008, POWERLINK requires no proprietary hardware and provides total user independence from licenses and specific vendors. POWERLINK gives users completely integrated CANopen mechanisms on the one hand, and 100% compliance to the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard on the other. As a result, POWERLINK provides all Standard Ethernet features including cross-traffic, hot plugging, and a free choice of network topology.