What is the difference between Ethernet/IP and TCP/IP?

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What is the difference between Ethernet/IP and TCP/IP?


When it comes to the industrial protocols that we support here at Robotiq, one of the most frequent questions that gets asked is certainly: what is the difference between Ethernet/IP and TCP/IP? Indeed, for a person unfamiliar with this subject, this can be quite confusing. In our daily lives, when we connect a PC to a network, we need to plug a cable into an ethernet card. However, to access the web, we have to configure our TCP/IP settings. And what does IP stands for again? Well, good question because the answer is: it depends! Let's take a few minutes to demystify all of this.

521px Ethernet RJ45 connector p1160054

An ethernet RJ/45 connector (picture from Wikipedia, Copyright © 2007 David Monniaux)

Some definitions

First, what do all these terms/acronyms mean?

Ethernet is a set of network related technologies (covering the physical layer, data frames, network topology, etc.) defined by the IEEE 802.3 standards.

TCP is an acronym which stands for Transmission Control Protocol. This protocol is responsible for managing the connection between a client and a server, making sure that the data which needs to be transfered is split into several packets which will all eventually reach their destination. If they don't, or if one of them is corrupt, TCP defines how the missing data will be retransmitted.

IP has two different meanings depending on how it is used: Industrial Protocol for Ethernet/IP and Internet Protocol for TCP/IP. Quite confusing! Let's take a closer look at these two protocols.


Ethernet/IP uses the Ethernet infrastructure (who would have guessed?) to manage the connection between various automation devices such as robots, PLCs, sensors, CNCs and other industrial machines. It is managed by the Open DeviceNet Vendors Association (ODVA) and is based on the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP). It is very robust, but it is also complex and the learning curve is very steep (trust me on that one!).


The real name of the industrial protocol which we support is Modbus TCP/IP. TCP/IP is responsible for the transmission of the packets, which are composed of Modbus frames containing commands to read/write into the shared memory of a device. It is quite easy to learn, as TCP/IP is standard in most programming langages (C/C++, Matlab, Python, etc.) and Modbus is very simple. Also, Modbus TCP/IP is standard with most PCs, which makes it an interesting communication protocol for research laboratories.

Which protocol do you need?

If you are asking yourself this question, chances are good that you need Modbus TCP/IP. I'm suggesting this, because the robot used in the targeted application generally determines if an Ethernet/IP protocol is needed, so if not, then Modbus TCP/IP can be used.

If you still hesitate, just send us an e-mail and we will help you to choose the protocol which is the best suited for your application. Do not forget, however, that many other protocols exist in robotics. At Robotiq, we also support DeviceNet, EtherCAT, Serial RS-232 and now also CANopen. The choice is yours!


ethernet/IP and TCP/IP are single protocol or different protocol
Posted @ Thursday, February 16, 2012 11:40 PM by harish
TCP/IP is a protocol which is responsible for routing the data to a specific IP address and verifying its integrity. We use the term Modbus TCP/IP to refer to Modbus frames which are sent over an ethernet network using the TCP/IP protocol. 
Ethernet/IP is itself a protocol which uses TCP/IP for routing the data for which the integrity is crucial. It also uses other protocols such as UDP/IP for data which needs to be sent and received very fast (at the cost of a reduced integrity). Ethernet/IP is much more complex than that, however. For more information, you can take a look on the ODVA website (http://odva.org/default.aspx?tabid=67)
Posted @ Sunday, February 19, 2012 7:22 PM by Nicolas Lauzier
we need to communicate from TCP/IP (on a PC) to FINS-TCP or EtherNet/IP (on a PLC). What solution do you recommend ? Does-it exist any external module or sofware package for this ? 
Posted @ Thursday, October 25, 2012 2:41 PM by Louis St-Laurent
I have a PLC (ControlLogix of AB) with Ethernet/IP and a checkweigher with TCP/IP. I need to connect the two. What would I use to establish communication between them? 
Posted @ Wednesday, October 31, 2012 9:56 AM by Mike Mahmoodi
I have a ControlLogix PLC that needs to communicate with a network device that communicates via TCP/IP protocol. The network will also have Ethernet/IP communicating devices. Can these two type of devices live and communicate with the PLC?
Posted @ Monday, January 14, 2013 1:21 PM by Mario
Yes I have the similar question but with EtherNet/IP-CIP that is developed by ODVA for Rockwell automation. After reading few articles i found that CIP uses upper three layers of OSI model. It is bit confusing why do we need to use CIP along with EtherNet/IP? Can anyone please help me?
Posted @ Wednesday, February 27, 2013 8:51 AM by Mohammad Mashiur Rahaman
This might be a little too late for some of those who were looking for a a solution for PLC to TCP/IP Communications, but Gateway Technologies, Inc. has a module that does just this: http://www.gatewayprotocol.com/. Hopefully that helps someone out.
Posted @ Friday, August 02, 2013 1:42 PM by Andrea Easley
There isn't much of a difference between TCP/IP over Ethernet and TCP/IP over a PPP link. The outer frame changes, but the TCP/IP packets remain the same.
Posted @ Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:25 AM by Windows 8 Backup Software
i want to interface Yokogawa DCS (Cs3000-r3)having ALE-111 (Modbus TCP/IP communication Module) with Allenbradley controllogix PLC having 1757-EN2T ethernet/IP module. Kindly advise can DCS will be able to talk to PLC or otherwise.
Posted @ Tuesday, August 20, 2013 9:56 AM by Khalid
Very True... but i dont think there is some big difference between both by the way you can easily jailbreak apple tv too .. 
Posted @ Friday, September 06, 2013 1:53 AM by sajid
It is bit confusing why do we need to use CIP along with EtherNet/IP? Can anyone please help me?
Posted @ Friday, September 06, 2013 1:55 AM by <a href="http://techguru3d.com/apple-tv-3-jailbreak/">Apple TV</a>
I have a ControlLogix PLC that needs to communicate with a network device that communicates via TCP/IP protocol. The network will also have Ethernet/IP communicating devices. Can these two type of devices live and communicate with the PLC?
Posted @ Friday, September 06, 2013 1:56 AM by Apple TV
It is very informative article on Ethernet and TCP/IP differences.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:32 PM by Ethernet Service
Posted @ Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:12 AM by SREEMANOHAR
Really great post, highly informative and professionally written..Good Job.
Posted @ Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:21 AM by Corporate Ethernet Service
This is very informative article on the Ethernet Services.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:20 PM by T1 Line Pricing
Good blog post about the major difference between Ethernet/IP and TCP/IP Networks.
Posted @ Monday, May 26, 2014 6:35 AM by MPLS Pricing
It clearly stated the differences between transfer control protocol vs an Ethernet Service.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 27, 2014 1:12 AM by MPLS Service
This is something I have never ever read. Very detailed difference between Ethernet/IP and TCP/IP. 
Keep up the good work.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:01 AM by Carol Janet
I have been seeing this thing in my computer since childhood and today i understand the difference, Ha ha Thanks
Posted @ Thursday, September 18, 2014 1:20 AM by Mian
I have a Controllogix 1756-L61 and a DOMORE PLC both on the same IP Network. Is there a way to transfer numerical data from a CMORE HMI panel to the ControlLogix PLC. I want to control a 525 Variable Frequency Drive From the Cmore Panel, but it is connected to the Control Logix PLC via Ethernet IP. Can anyone help me?
Posted @ Wednesday, September 24, 2014 6:41 AM by Donnie Harris
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