KPA EtherCAT Master

KPA EtherCAT Master is a comprehensive product for industrial automation specialists who intend to add high-speed communication capabilities to their applications and solutions. It is a second generation of EtherCAT Master by koenig-pa, implementing a new advanced architecture and several unique features that facilitate better integration and performance increase. Also, it supports a various range of operating systems.

KPA EtherCAT Master is a software stack, which corresponds to all EtherCAT Technology Group stan-dards and has numerous features, which can be used for developing of cost-optimized and powerful PLC on almost any platform (such as arm/arm64 or x86/x64) to control EtherCAT I/O produced by any vendor.

Benefits and key features

  • Meets EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) standards
    KPA EtherCAT Master can be delivered as standard or customized feature packages. Two standard packages are available according ETG.1500 standard: Class A (Standard package) and Class B (Basic package). Moreover, koenig-pa GmbH introduces Premium package, which integrates various additional features for creating innovative applications.
  • Available for numerous operating systems, as well as OS-less systems
    KPA EtherCAT Master is available for numerous operating systems, including Windows, INtime, RTX/RTX64, Linux, Linux+Xenomai, FreeRTOS, Nucleus, QNX, VxWorks, ReWorks, Integrity, as well as OS-less systems. Upon request, koenig-pa GmbH experts can adjust support for any operating system.
  • Hardware extensions for Xilinx/Intel FPGA (Altera) and Texas Instruments PRUSS Sitara CPU
    Availability of IP Cores for Xilinx and for Intel FPGA (Altera) FPGAs, PRUss co-program for Texas Instrument Sitara CPUs (AM47x and AM57x) increases productivity and data processing efficiency. Implementation for AM6x is available upon request.
  • Auto Configurator for online configuration
    KPA EtherCAT Master can configure bus on the fly without EtherCAT configuration tools. The Auto Configurator module allows a user application to select slave’s configuration and to switch between different configurations of the slave, for example, between position control of a drive and velocity control, or between bus configurations with a different number of slaves.
  • Process image logging for data transferring into analytic tools
    Process image (PI) logger allows to collect real-time data for transferring to other levels without influence on real-time behavior of the control system. Data can be transferred to MATLAB, LabView (TDMS format), and any other analytic tools. Moreover, koenig-pa GmbH has designed a special Python extension, which allows to aggregate data into a file of any format, for example a CSV-file, for its further processing.

KPA EtherCAT Master Stack Architecture

EtherCAT master stack has a modular structure to respond to a challenge of each particular implementation. It makes the master scalable to fit the size of application, portable to different operating systems, adaptable to various hardware platforms and allows developing or customizing each module separately while keeping the functionality of the others intact.

Master’s modules are grouped in the following layers, thereby all functions are clearly separated:
KPA EtherCAT Master Stack Architecture

Application layer

Application layer is responsible for interaction with various programming or/and configuration environments and other applications or devices. It encapsulates and

  • ensures access to master’s functions from the side of applications or process tasks
  • allows interaction with the master by means of Remote Procedure Calls service and provides TCP/IP or/and UDP connections, for example, for mailbox communication with slaves via UDP

KPA EtherCAT Master Stack Core

Mailbox module

KPA Master Core mailbox module deploys protocols to handle service data objects (SDP), data transfer and data exchange. The following protocols – according to the EtherCAT standard – are already supported:

  • CAN application protocol over EtherCAT (CoE)
  • Ethernet over EtherCAT (EoE)
  • Servo Profile over EtherCAT (SoE)
  • File Access over EtherCAT (FoE)
  • Vendor specific Profile over EtherCAT (VoE)
  • ADS over EtherCAT (AoE)

Process Image Module

Process Image addresses are provided by EtherCAT network information (ENI) file, generated by a configuration tool. Access to the process image from control/process tasks is carried out through the master interface.

Distributed Clocks Module

Distributed Clocks (DC) module enables all EtherCAT devices (master and slaves) to always share the same EtherCAT system time. This is done by compensating offset and drift time. For more details please refer to

  KPA EtherCAT Master Synchronization Flyer (147.2 KB, 2,202 hits)

Frame Scheduler Module – Different Scan Rates for PDO

In the configuration tool the user defines scan rates for each slave individually. Frame Scheduler module manages velocity of EtherCAT frames by forwarding them to EtherCAT network driver.

KPA EtherCAT Master Stack OSAL

Operating System abstraction layer (OSAL)

Master Stack OSAL allows making the master portable to any operating system with less effort.

The layer consists of two modules:

  • OS functions module contains wrappers for OS-dependent functions that deal with threads, timers, mutexes, etc.
  • Network adapter driver module that abstracts the master stack core from the underlying network implementation.

KPA EtherCAT Master Operating Systems

Logo Intime
Logo Linux
Logo QNX
Logo RTX
Logo VxWorks
Logo Xenomai

Notes: Some OSes like Windows XP, CE6/7, OnTime RTOS-32, PikeOS, RTAI are ported, but not actively supported. Any other OS can be supported on request.

KPA EtherCAT Master Stack Benchmark

Config “Simple”:
64Bytes Frame, 1 LRD / 1 LWR, No DC, No Mailbox (EK1100 – EL1004 – EL2004)

Config “Complex”:
1 Full frame (1514Bytes frame for PDO), LRD / LWR commands, DC, Mailbox via EVENT (EK1100-EL1004-EL2004-EL1252-EL3102-EL4102-EL6751-EL6751)

Test Platform:
CPU: Intel® Core i7-3770 CPU 3.40 GHz 3.39GHz
NIC: Intel® Gigabit CT desktop adapter

1. Comparing Master performance results running on different RTOSes but on the same target Intel Core i7 (Single CPU core for all Master threads)

Config “Simple”:
INtime RTX qnx vxworks" xenomai
Master cycle time, µs 100 100 100 100 100
Jitter, ±µs 5 2 7 10 1
Slave response time (avg), µs 43 32 43 33 22
CPU load (avg), % 16 21 21 21 13,3

Config “Complex”:

INtime RTX qnx vxworks" xenomai
Master cycle time, µs 200 200 200 200 200
Jitter, ±µs 4 2 3 4 1
Slave response time (avg), µs 170 150 171 166 154
CPU load (avg), % 10 12 13 13 3,8

2. Best Master performance results running on different RTOSes but on the same target (Single CPU core for all Master threads)

Config “Simple”:

INtime RTX qnx vxworks" xenomai
Master cycle time, µs 50 50 100 100 50
Jitter, ±µs 10 3 7 10 1
Slave response time (avg), µs 43 32 43 33 22
CPU load (avg), % 31 41 21 21 27,5
Config “Complex”:
INtime RTX qnx vxworks" xenomai
Master cycle time, µs 200 200 200 200 200
Jitter, ±µs 4 2 3 4 1
Slave response time (avg), µs 170 150 171 166 154
CPU load (avg), % 10 12 13 13 3,8

KPA EtherCAT Master Stack Packages

Master Classes

KPA EtherCAT Master can be delivered as a standard or customized feature package subject to customer’s demands. Two standard packages are available in accordance with ETG.1500 requirements: Class A (Standard package) and Class B (Basic package). Besides, koenig-pa offers additional type package for the most demanding customers – Premium, with several advanced features already included.

To compare the features and options included in Basic (Class B) and Standard (Class A) packages, refer to the following document.

  KPA EtherCAT Master Classes Flyer (352.3 KB, 2,419 hits)

  KPA EtherCAT Master WhitePaper (1.7 MB, 3,177 hits)


Extensions are advanced functional options (Feature Packs in terms of ETG) that can be purchased separately and added to any Class of KPA EtherCAT Master. Currently, the following extensions are available:

WebSocket / OPC UA support

Master configuration and variables are available for external applications and services via several well-known protocols including WebSocket and OPC UA.

Operating Systems

We offer EtherCAT Master packages for the following general-purpose and real-time operating systems:

  • Windows
  • INtime
  • Linux RT Preemt
  • Xenomai
  • QNX
  • RTX/RTX64
  • VxWorks
  • Integrity
  • FreeRTOS
  • Nucleus

Any other operating system can be supported upon customer’s request. Additionally, we have ported KPA EtherCAT Master to Windows XP, CE6/7, OnTime RTOS-32, PikeOS, RTAI, etc. but are not actively support these operating systems.

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