Incompatibilities between enterprise and industrial networking technologies has been a significant challenge toward the successful adoption of Industrial IoT (IIoT) technology. Fortunately, Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) has emerged as a solution for bridging enterprise and operational networks, from the data center to the control layer.
The best way to define TSN is to think of it as a set of IEEE 802 Ethernet sub-standards that are defined by the IEEE’s TSN task group. It’s defined as IEEE 802.1. By using time synchronization, TSN is able to achieve determinism over an Ethernet network. It also employs a schedule that’s shared between network components.
Network interoperability is a key feature here. As the term suggests, it enables interconnected networks to send and receive data without negatively impacting performance. In theory, and in practice in most cases, it means connecting networks from different vendors. There are some obvious examples, like the cellular networks, when an AT&T subscriber makes a call or sends data to a Verizon subscriber. It would be the same example for two machines sending data to each other.
Network interoperability challenges also occur between the industrial OT (operational technology) and enterprise IT (informational technology) sides of Industrial IoT. IT systems are typically designed to connect applications and share data and tend to be open and standards-based. Operational control systems were designed as standalone entities and, in many cases, weren’t intended to be connected or even accessed remotely.
Devices on the network can generally interoperate with other devices either by adhering to a common protocol standard, abiding by a published interface standard, or situating a gateway between them capable of translating each device’s protocols. This latter method is gaining in popularity as it allows for future changes and upgrades.
This new level of determinism that Ethernet TSN brings is needed as more mission-critical applications are developed, particularly in the industrial sector. Further enhancements have been made to the protocol to ensure support of real-time data application.
To address this space, WINSYSTEMS has developed the NET-429 Industrial TSN and 1588v2-enabled network switch. IEEE 1588v2 is a protocol that conveys time and frequency information. This is done by exchanging messages between the client and the server, and each of these messages is time-stamped at time of transmission and reception, and then sent back to its source. Over time, each endpoint can estimate the round-trip delay time to determine the proper synchronization. Hence, time-critical industrial networks can maintain the proper level of performance. Other features of the board include eight 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ45 Ethernet ports and two 1000Base-X SGMII SFP ports.
The bottom line is that if you require advanced quality-of-service (QoS) features, you needn’t look any further, particularly in applications that require a full-temp, industrial-grade package.
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George Thomas “G.T.” Hilliard joined WINSYSTEMS in 1994 and has over 25 years of professional experience assisting clients to solve technical challenges. George has a BS in Electronic Engineering Technology and previously worked at a Fortune 500 company where he provided technical support for industrial control and sortation systems. Starting as an Application Engineer, George now leads the sales and marketing departments where he continues to enjoy supporting clients in solving technical and business challenges.