Everything You Always Wanted to Know about RSLinx Classic, RSLinx Enterprise, and Factorytalk Linx But Were Too Afraid to Ask
May 19, 2020
RSLinx and Factorytalk Linx are software programs that provide a communication connection for software to Rockwell Automation products like CompactLogix controllers and Panelview HMI’s. Also, licensed versions of these products allow third-party (non-Rockwell) software to communicate with Rockwell PLC’s through OPC, an industry-standard protocol. What are the differences between these products, and which do I need?
RSLinx Classic is the communication driver that Rockwell has been using for many years. It provides connections to devices on networks such as EtherNet/IP, Devicenet, ControlNet, and older serial networks like DF-1, DH-485, and DH+. There are 2 types of RSinx Classic licenses: Unlicensed (RSLinx Classic Lite) and Licensed (RSLinx Classic Single Node, RSLinx Classic OEM, and RSLinx Classic Gateway). Licensed versions provide OPC DA connections for non-Rockwell software, based on the limits below.
1. RSLinx Classic Lite: This is an unlicensed version of RSLinx Classic that installs with Rockwell PLC programming software like Studio 5000 or Connected Components Workbench. It provides communication for this software to talk to PLC’s for use in flashing firmware, troubleshooting, and programming. Since it does not require a license, it is free to download from the Rockwell Program Compatibility and Download Center (PCDC).
2. RSlinx Classic Single Node: In addition to the connection capabilities of Lite, Single Node also provides an OPC DA connection to a single Rockwell PLC. The software that is connecting to the PLC must be installed on the same PC as Single Node.
3. RSLinx Classic OEM: OEM allows third party software to connect to multiple Rockwell PLC’s. Like Single Node, OEM must be installed on the same PC as the third-party software.
4. RSLinx Classic Gateway: Gateway provides distributed OPC DA access to multiple PLC’s for third-party software that can be installed locally or remotely.
RSLinx Enterprise and Factorytalk Linx Gateway
RSLinx Enterprise has been rebranded as Factorytalk Linx, and Rockwell has indicated that it will be replacing RSLinx Classic as the default connection method for RA software. Factorytalk Linx Gateway is a licensed product that provide both OPC DA and newer OPC UA connectivity to third-party programs. OPC UA has many advantages over OPC DA, including improved security, no longer relying on the DCOM model, and easier integration into IT environments.
Factorytalk Linx Gateway requires the installation and use of Factorytalk Linx.
The Gateway products are licensed based on how many tags are being served, and whether or not the data source that connects to the PLC is on the same computer, using the Factorytalk Local Directory, or located on one or more remote computers, using the Factorytalk Network Directory. An example of using the FT Network Directory would be serving tags from a Factorytalk View SE distributed SCADA system. Note that FT Linx Gateway tag limits are separate for OPC DA and OPC UA connections, so a 5000-tag Gateway license could provide access to 5000 OPC UA tags and 5000 OPC DA tags.
1. Factorytalk Linx (Formerly RSLinx Enterprise): Unlicensed, ships with Studio 5000 and Factorytalk View SE and ME products. Also used with the FT Gateway products below.
2. Factorytalk Linx Gateway Basic: Basic is limited to using the local Factorytalk directory, and can serve up to 1000 tags via OPC UA/DA.
3. Factorytalk Linx Gateway Standard: Standard also uses the local Factorytalk directory, and can serve up to 5000 tags via OPC UA/DA.
4. Factorytalk Linx Gateway Distributed: Gateway can use either the local or the network Factorytalk directory, and provides up to 32,000 tags via OPC UA/DA.
5. Factorytalk Linx Gateway Professional: Professional can use either the local or network directory, and has no fixed tag limit. Additionally, professional comes with the Factorytalk Linx Data Bridge, which allows you to connect and share data between various servers, including Factorytalk Linx, OPC DA, OPC UA, and Factorytalk View SE data servers.
As you can see, there are many different products and methods for connecting to Rockwell systems and sharing data with RSLinx and Factorytalk Linx products. If you have any questions, please reach out to your local Buckles-Smith account manager or refer to the following technical resources: