OPC UA is a specification developed by the OPC Foundation. This cross-platform interface is significantly different from earlier versions. It unifies them. Its main tasks are to connect devices to industrial networks and ensure stable data transmission.
The main difference between the OPC unified architecture and the previous specifications lies in the use of an independent communication stack. All early versions are tied to COM/DCOM. These mechanisms allow the program to work in distributed control systems. However, some drawbacks are also associated with them. For example:
• there is no other control over DCOM,
• you cannot configure timeouts,
• there are often difficulties with DCOM configuration,
• applications based on these mechanisms are available only in Windows.
A new communication stack provided for the OPC UA will solve the problems stated above. They gave rise to its development. It reflects a variety of innovations. The characteristic features of this stack include:
• implementation in the ANSI C language,
• possibility of setting timeouts,
• creation of large datagrams,
• implementation of inherent security according to new standards.
The OPC UA innovations also include the use of a full mesh network instead of hierarchical folders. Thanks to this feature, network nodes can transmit any metadata. In addition, the OPC unified architecture supports redundancy, buffering and confirmation of information transmission. Also, heartbeat for connection monitoring in both directions is implemented in the latest specification.
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