The IoT Future with Faster and Deterministic Networks
The time is upon us. Gigabit Ethernet and TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) is available, and a range of products are on the market. So, what are the new benefits?
Let’s talk about the greatest current trend, Digital Transformation and IoT. It’s clearly about broad access to more sensors and more data. Opening the opportunity for improvements of all kinds, through better performance, reliability, and agility. More data means better decisions. IoT impacts all industries and all applications. But to maximize IoT data, we need to solve one problem, that bandwidth alone can’t solve. That is determinism. With increased Ethernet traffic, you get increased jitter. With combinations of different traffic, control messages, data queries and Video frames, you get vastly varying loads that until recently, couldn’t be managed.
Since 2018, we’ve had access to gigabit Ethernet with TSN. This delivers a number of features for product vendors to leverage. First is time synchronization, the ability for all devices on the network to synchronize clocks with nanosecond precision. This enables the scheduling of timeslots for coordination of real-time communications. We have the ability to prioritize communications. And we have the ability to shape communications, breaking large messages to enable interspersed, higher priority messages. All these items combined will enable the reliable combination of both control traffic and information traffic over a single Ethernet. These are the basics, and you can learn much more about Ethernet TSN at https://1.ieee802.org/tsn/
Fundamentally, this enables us to use the same Ethernet network, both for control purposes, (the Operational technology) and informational purposes (Information Technology). Back to access to data – the combination of OT and IT networks now exposes the typically islanded information from control networks and devices for management and data queries from business systems. Smart sensors and control devices can now provide their data and functions as before, but also provide additional data for asset management, troubleshooting, analytics, etc.
The combination of IT and OT networks will simplify architectures and reduce costs, both for design and long-term operation. More and more products with TSN support – including PLCs, I/O, motion control, and infrastructure equipment such as TSN supporting Ethernet Switches are on the market and will benefit from cost reductions as volumes pick up. Most importantly, industrial protocols are being bridged to IoT protocols for data accessibility beyond the enterprise.
Ethernet with TSN is enabling an acceleration of IoT adoption by broadening the available range of devices and data.