LonWorks platform

What's the LonWorks platform?

LonWorks is the name of our control networking technology platform. It’s called a platform because it comprises the following elements:
Communications protocol. This protocol is the underlying technology of a LonWorks control network. An international standard, it’s known as ANSI/EIA709.1, SEMI E56.6, IEEE 1493-L, EN14908, and others.
Dedicated microprocessor. Invented by Echelon, this processor (also known as the Neuron chip) is highly optimized for devices on a control network. Neuron chips have three 8-bit inline processors: two are dedicated to the communications protocol and one is a general-purpose applications processor. A number of chip manufacturers market the Neuron family of microprocessors.
Transceivers. These components transmit the protocol on a specific media, such as twisted-pair or power line. All devices on a control network must have a transceiver. Our twisted-pair and power line signaling technology have been approved as ANSI/EIA709.3 and 709.2, respectively. Both are also expected to be included in EN14908.
Network database. Called the LNS Network Operating System, this database is the required software component of open control systems; it ensures an open environment for extending, maintaining, and managing LonWorks based systems. The network operating system serves critical functions in a control network. LNS also supports a plug-in architecture.
Internet connectivity. The standardized applications (called LonMark profiles) and Standard Network Variable Types (SNVTs) of a LonWorks network pass through Internet connectivity devices via Web services (SOAP calls in XML format). Accessing and controlling LonWorks networks via Web services—an international IT standard—lets them become integral parts of enterprise applications, services centers, and more.
Interoperability. Interoperability means that devices created by different manufacturers can work together without needing a gateway to translate data from one device to another. A single, standardized software tool—LonMaker for Windows—manages and installs such disparate devices. Interoperability in the LonWorks world is governed by the LonMark International Group, which maintains interoperability guidelines, creates standard applications, and tests and certifies products.

The LonTalk Protocol

All LonWorks devices communicate with one another using the protocol that underlies the LonTalk Protocol - embedded in Neuron Chips found in every LonWorks device available today. On October 26th, 1999 Echelon released a downloadable reference implementation of this protocol for use on any processor. This protocol is defined in ANSI approved standard EIA/CEA-709.1-A-1999.
What is Echelon’s Protocol Patent License Agreement?
The LonTalk protocol was invented by Echelon and is the subject of numerous patents associated with its innovative features and functions. The protocol was designed to enable highly reliable, peer-to-peer as well as hierarchical networking among control devices manufactured by different suppliers. Achieving interoperability among devices required both that the protocol be implemented in an identical manner within all networked devices, and the establishment of a reliable and consistent means of transmitting, broadcasting, and receiving messages between and among LonTalk based devices. The Neuron Chip and Smart Transceiver implementations of the protocol, combined with Echelon’s physical layer transceivers, provide a foundation for interoperability among devices.

When the protocol was published and incorporated into open standards such as the ANSI/CEA-709.1-B-2002 Control Network Protocol Specification, the Protocol Patent License Agreement was created for two purposes: (1) to ensure that anyone who implemented the protocol on a processor other than the Neuron Chip or Smart Transceiver did so in a manner that would be fully interoperable and could not be modified to become non-interoperable; and (2) to allow such an implementation to be accomplished without infringing applicable Echelon protocol patents.


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