What is the difference between modbus tcp and ethernet ip?

Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP are two popular industrial automation protocols used extensively in various industries. Although they serve similar purposes, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the dissimilarities and provide a comprehensive comparison between Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP.

Modbus TCP

Modbus TCP is an open communication protocol widely used in industrial automation systems. It is an extension of the Modbus protocol, which was originally developed by Modicon in 1979. Modbus TCP uses the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to establish communication between devices over Ethernet networks.


Ethernet/IP, on the other hand, is an industrial protocol developed by the Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA). It is built on the foundations of standard Ethernet and uses the Internet Protocol (IP) to enable communication between devices in industrial automation applications.

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

The main difference between Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP lies in their underlying technologies and communication architectures. While both protocols facilitate communication between devices, they have distinct features that set them apart.

Modbus TCP: Modbus TCP is a simple and straightforward protocol that offers consistent, reliable, and efficient data exchange between devices. It operates over traditional TCP/IP networks, making it compatible with various Ethernet hardware and software. It relies on a master-slave architecture, where a single master device initiates requests to multiple slave devices. Modbus TCP is known for its simplicity, ease of implementation, and widespread support in the industrial automation sector.

Ethernet/IP: Ethernet/IP, in contrast, is a more advanced and comprehensive protocol. It leverages standard Ethernet technology and IP addressing, offering a scalable and flexible solution for industrial networks. Ethernet/IP supports multiple communication options, including point-to-point, multicast, and implicit/explicit messaging. It follows a client-server model, enabling bidirectional communication between devices. Ethernet/IP also provides additional features like device diagnostics, network redundancy, and quality of service (QoS) capabilities.


1. Can Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP devices communicate with each other?

Yes, it is possible for Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP devices to communicate with each other by using gateway devices or protocol converters.

2. Which protocol is more widely adopted in the industry?

Both Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP have a significant presence in the industry. However, Ethernet/IP is more commonly used in newer automation systems, while Modbus TCP has a strong foothold in legacy systems.

3. Are there any differences in data transmission speed?

Ethernet/IP generally provides higher data transmission speeds compared to Modbus TCP due to its advanced features and scalability.

4. Can Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP be used on wireless networks?

Yes, both protocols can be implemented on wireless networks, provided the necessary hardware and configuration are in place.

5. Which protocol is more suitable for small-scale applications?

Modbus TCP is often favored for small-scale applications due to its simplicity, ease of implementation, and widespread support.

6. Does either protocol offer built-in security features?

Both protocols have limited built-in security features. It is recommended to implement additional security measures, such as VPNs or firewalls, to protect the communication between devices.

7. Is one protocol more suitable for real-time applications?

Ethernet/IP is better suited for real-time applications due to its multiple communication options and support for explicit messaging.

8. Can Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP coexist within the same network?

Yes, it is possible to have devices using Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP on the same network, as long as the necessary configuration is in place.

9. Are there any licensing fees associated with the use of these protocols?

Neither Modbus TCP nor Ethernet/IP impose any licensing fees, as they are open protocols.

10. Can Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP be used for remote monitoring?

Yes, both protocols can be employed for remote monitoring applications, allowing users to monitor and control devices over long distances.

11. Which protocol offers better diagnostics capabilities?

Ethernet/IP provides more extensive diagnostics capabilities, allowing for better troubleshooting and device monitoring compared to Modbus TCP.

12. Can these protocols be used in other industries besides industrial automation?

While primarily used in industrial automation, both Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP can be applied in other industries where reliable and efficient communication between devices is essential, such as building automation and energy management systems.

In conclusion, although Modbus TCP and Ethernet/IP share similarities as industrial automation protocols, they have distinct differences in terms of underlying technologies, communication architectures, and features. The choice between these protocols depends on factors such as application requirements, scalability, and the existing ecosystem of devices and systems.

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