New innovations in hybrid connectors expand the power transmission capabilities beyond what today’s SPE connectors can achieve using PoDL.
The beauty of Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is that it eliminates the clunky translation required for different network systems to communicate with each other, unifying machine communication and data transfer among all machines on the network. SPE allows real-time, high-speed communication connections up to 1Gbps and removes barriers between the sensor and the cloud—all critical when considering the future industrial internet of things (IIoT).
However, SPE connectors have faced a limitation: power delivery. For many factory automation applications, the 1.36A current-carrying max found in standard SPE connectors using a power over data line (PoDL) is enough. But for applications that require power above that 50-Watt/1.36A threshold, the existing SPE connector design with PoDL can’t handle the load.
A better option for high-powered SPE
Enter the SPE hybrid connector and cable. Designed for industrial environments that require higher currents and more power transmission, the hybrid connector uses the form factor of an M8. But this hybrid connector has two pin pairs—one for data transmission up to 1Gbps/600MHz and the other for power transmission up to 8A. To avoid interference with the power and data signals, a metal shield separates the pin pairs inside the connector. Meanwhile, the hybrid cable contains an SPE pair and a power pair, with a shield separating the two like in the connector. The cable’s power pair is made of 18AWG wires.
How it works
Separating and shielding the data pair from the power pair significantly reduces the electromagnetic interference (aka, “noise”) a SPE PHY chip has to withstand as it transmits data. The hybrid connector set-up means that even running at a higher power/current level, there’s little to no data lost. That makes the hybrid system especially attractive for use on networks where the actuators and sensors are mounted directly on machines.
Another benefit of this hybrid configuration is increased flexibility to distribute power across networks vs. the point-to-point connection that PoDL requires. That means it’s possible to distribute higher currents to power several cascaded power devices.
There are situations where you may need to deviate from the PoDL standard, in which case this hybrid SPE connector and cable approach can work well. Potential applications for this technology include:
- If you need higher power levels (up to 8A and greater than 50 Watts), e.g., for the supply of electronic motors.
- If you need more flexibility regarding distributing power over the network to provide power to several cascaded power devices.
- If you need to reduce electromagnetic interference between the data and power lines.
While the hybrid connector has separate signal and power pairs, it still offers one connectivity solution for both data and power—all housed in the small form factor of a standard M8 connector. Although the hybrid cable is slightly heavier and wider in diameter than the standard ethernet cable, the hybrid cable has a higher power capacity and allows for more flexible network topologies. Overall, the new innovations in hybrid SPE connections and cables are allowing this technology to expand even further into the IIoT.