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New PCI Express ARCNET Card for Modern PC Motherboards

PCI20EXJune 2013 - ARCNET continues to remain popular and our customers have asked us for support of their legacy ARCNET systems. As one of our customers put it "no one is going to junk a $300,000 control system that incorporates ARCNET just because their old PC died." What they need is a compatible ARCNET adapter for their modern PC replacement which happens to only come with a PCI Express expansion bus. They want a solution that does not impact their application software. We agree and that is why we have introduced the PCI20EX ARCNET Network Interface Module as a replacement for our legacy PCI ARCNET adapters.

The PCI20EX Series of cards provide ARCNET functionality for the PCI Express (PCIe) bus - demonstrating a continued commitment to ARCNET technology and customer requirements. Our ARC Control® (ARCNET for Control) product line has expanded to include not only the new PCI20EX Series of PCI Express ARCNET cards, but we have enhanced our ARCNET drivers and updated our dedicated ARC Control website.

Our ArcX DLL, available as part of the free DI-SDK download, previously supported only one ARCNET device. With the latest version, customers can support multiple ARCNET devices in one application. ArcX.dll is used by the popular ArcShark which captures all ARCNET data and saves them in a file format compatible with Wireshark. This allows Wireshark the ability to decode the content of BACnet messages sent over ARCNET.

An application written to communicate with ArcX allows it to work with many Contemporary Controls' ARCNET cards and is compatible with most ARC Control products, including the PCI20U line of PCI Bus ARCNET adapters, the USB22 line of USB ARCNET adapter, the AI-SRVR line of ARCNET to Ethernet servers and the new PCI20EX PCI Express line of ARCNET cards.

"ARCNET systems remain popular, and ARCNET is one of the approved data links in the BACnet standard, so it's not uncommon to see ARCNET and BACnet together," said Bennet Levine, R&D manager at Contemporary Controls. "Developing a PCI Express ARCNET card and updating ArcX is part of our continuing commitment to support ARCNET installations while helping our customers."

PCI20EX boards incorporate the COM20022 ARCNET controller chip which supports command chaining, sequential access to internal RAM, and duplicate node ID detection. Bus contention problems are minimized since the module's interrupt level and I/O base address are assigned through Plug-and-Play (PnP) operation.

The PCI20EX Series supports high speed communications using EIA-485 transceivers up to 10Mbps - DC-coupled and AC-coupled (transformer) variants. Conventional 2.5 Mbps dipulse signaling is supported on the traditional coaxial and twisted-pair models.

Each PCI20EX card provides two LEDs for monitoring network operation and PCIe bus access to the unit. It is equipped with an 8-position, general-purpose DIP switch which could be used to assign the ARCNET node address. Ultimately, the node address is configured via software so the DIP switch can be used for special purpose user-defined configuration options.

View the PCI20EX Product Page to learn more.

To better communicate the full range of options from our ARC Control product line, we've updated our dedicated ARC Control website at to showcase our wide range of solutions for your next ARCNET project.

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