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The first IEC/IEEE International Standard, which relates to instrument buses, has been published under a joint cooperation agreement. The publication of this standard under the joint agreement indicates how industry worldwide can benefit from a rational approach to international standardization that makes optimum use of existing, market-relevant technical standards. The new IEC/IEEE standard, 60488-2, concerns the use of IEEE 488 buses in laboratory and manufacturing instruments and is based on the IEEE 488.2™ standard. The agreement between the two organizations seeks to enhance the development process for international standards. Where relevant IEEE electronic, power generation, telecommunication and other standards already exist, these can be proposed to the IEC for publication as IEC/IEEE Dual Logo International Standards. Under the agreement, the IEEE standards are submitted to the IEC Standardization Management Board for approval and processing by the relevant IEC technical committees and, if approved, are published as IEC/IEEE Dual Logo International Standard. “The first standard under the IEC/IEEE agreement sends a clear signal that the IEC is responding to market needs by avoiding duplication of standardizing efforts,” says IEC general secretary, Aharon Amit. “If a suitable IEEE standard already exists that can meet market needs on an international level, then this agreement means these can be vetted, approved and published as true international standards. The agreement is an excellent model of how to fast-track standards development, and make rational use of industry’s technical resources.” According to Judy Gorman, managing director of the IEEE Standards Association, dozens of other potential IEEE standards are being considered for this process. “The agreement opens the way for us to broaden our international standards collection and makes our standards more accessible. It also ensures that valuable work undertaken by the IEEE volunteers benefits the entire global community.” IEC/IEEE 60488-2 defines communication protocols for devices connected via IEEE 488 buses and common commands and characteristics useful in a wide range of instrument applications. It includes message-handling protocols, status reporting structures and system configuration and synchronization protocols. IEEE 488 buses (or general purpose interface buses) have been in use for more than 25 years and are built into millions of instruments worldwide. They enable communication among controllers (usually a computer) and instruments in research, test and production settings, such as oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers and digital multimeters. IEC/IEEE 60488-2 can be obtained from the IEC at www.iec.ch or the IEEE at http://shop.ieee.org/store/.
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