In networking, a protocol converter is a program or a device that converts from one protocol to another allowing inter-dependability between systems or devices that use dissenting protocols. Essentially, communication protocols are the rules that define how the data passing through a system are to be processed and transmitted. If two or more systems or devices don’t use the same protocol, then they cannot understand (communicate with) each other; thus the need for a protocol converter.
In simple words, a protocol converter converts from protocol to another in order to permit the systems to achieve interoperability.
The protocols are software installed on routers that transfer commands from one system to another. The process incorporates conversion of data, commands, their encoding, demonstration and enclosing to accomplish the transformation.
There is a whole host of protocols used in numerous fields of networking that includes events and time synchronization, conversion of data messages, major protocol translation messages involve commands, AMR, automation, utilities, transmission and distribution, power generation, oil and gas, and remote monitoring applications.
A protocol converter works by utilizing an internal master protocol for communicating with the external devices. The data collected is then used for updating the converter’s internal database. There are numerous physical mediums used for communication on protocol-X and Y including the Ethernet, RS-232, and RS-485 among others.
Types of protocol converters
There are primarily two types of protocol converters used in networking. They are:
- Software Protocol Converters
- Hardware Protocol Converters
Choosing a protocol converter
When choosing a protocol converter, it is critical to go for a converter that best suits your communication and application setup. The following are the three factors to consider when choosing a protocol converter.
- Total number of connections: Some protocol converters have only single connections, while others have as many as 32 connections including multiple serial ports.
- Connectivity protocol: The protocol converter must support the protocol used by your network whether Ethernet, RS-232, RS-422 or RS-485.
- Baud Rate: The protocol converter you choose must have high baud rates for high performance.
Applications of a protocol converter
The applications of a protocol converter differ from industry to industry. Depending on the protocols, it can be a software converter or a hardware converter. Some of the key applications of a protocol converter include building automation, vehicle automation applications, automatic meter reading, process automation, industrial automation, and substation automation.
In situations, where a signal from the system or device is inept at coexisting with the protocols used by the network management system or building management system, a protocol converter is best suited.
A protocol converter can receive up to a maximum of 1024 inputs over 32 modules, allowing for flexible integration with multiple alarm and management systems using a single device. On the other hand, the protocol converters are used with fiber media converters, PDH multiplexes, PCI Express network cards, DWDM equipment, CWDM, and switches.
All in all, protocol converters play an essential role in telecommunication and networking applications.