It’s Time for Time Sensitive Networking!

TSN, which stands for Time Sensitive Networking, is the technology behind the effort to converge the factory floor and the IT world. A number of manufacturers want to move data from here to there where here and there are anything including the accounting server and a motor controller. They want open – open platforms, open standards, open software – and TSN might be the way to get there.

TSN is a collection of standards (802.1xx) under development by the IEEE that will bring deterministic behavior to Ethernet. Yes, you read that right; Ethernet will operate deterministically.

With TSN, you get improved timing synchronization across the network, stream protocol management, real time scheduling, and path control; the latencies between an input device on that network (they called it a “talker”) and a device receiving that packet (the “listener”) can both be well-known and mathematically calculable. And further, it is designed to have very low jitter and high availability. Other traffic, called “best effort” traffic, will be managed by the network to not inhibit the deterministic traffic.

This is implemented by some advanced algorithmic processes that take requests for deterministic bandwidth and compute how to fulfill all those requests. Instructions then go out to all the switches telling them how to make it happen. At least, that’s the theory that’s being proposed.

Beyond the implementation details, what’s really happening with TSN is the true convergence of the deterministic behavior of real time, factory floor systems with standard Ethernet. If that happens, companies hope to move data more easily between their IT systems and manufacturing systems, use standard security mechanisms that are available in off-the-shelf IT applications, and use more open standards and less proprietary factory networking.

In short, lower costs and improved performance – it’s something worth watching. And that’s where we come in. Networking is complex. You have a resource at RTA to answer your questions about TSN, Modbus, Modbus TCP, or how to move any of your data around your factory and enterprise.