Introduced in early 2000, Ethernet/IP is based on commercial off-the-shelf Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) and the TCP/IP suite, not modified, proprietary implementations. It also uses User Datagram Protocol/Internet Protocol (UDP/IP) transport services, which supports multicast, real-time messaging. Because it uses both TCP/IP and UDP/IP protocols, GM and other manufacturers can use Ethernet/IP for both information and control applications.

Ethernet/IP also seamlessly integrates with DeviceNet, GM's preferred device-level network in North America. It also uses the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) as its upper-layer protocol and object model. CIP lets users transport data from the factory floor to enterprise systems without specialized devices or software.