TSN Promises to Keep Your Time-Critical Data On-Track

By Graham Morphew

Sr. Director Product Marketing

Wind River

June 14, 2024

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TSN Promises to Keep Your Time-Critical Data On-Track

Time-Sensitive Networking, better known as TSN in the embedded community, is the IEEE 802.1Q defined standard technology that provides deterministic messaging over standard Ethernet networks.

It is centrally managed and guarantees delivery using time scheduling for applications that require determinism. With the growth of more autonomous capabilities, advanced sensors, data collection from Edge devices, IoT networks and more, TSN is becoming a baseline requirement in system design.

Prior to the TSN standard, Ethernet networks didn’t contain a deterministic capability, which is vital when dealing with such applications as automotive, aviation, manufacturing, transportation, and utilities. Providing a means for this determinism over standard Ethernet networks enables new levels of connectivity and optimization, as well as minimized jitter.

The real-time applications cited often rely on Ethernet connectivity between modules or devices. Without TSN, there would be no management of time regarding data delivery, making it impossible to ensure that all real-time data arrives at its destination on time, making deterministic system behavior difficult at best.

Another key feature of TSN is that it guarantees minimal network latency and jitter and provides for bounded end-to-end delay and guaranteed message delivery time. It also allows for the transmission of time-sensitive and non-time-sensitive data on the same network. All this works over a general-purpose Ethernet network allowing time-critical TSN traffic and regular non-critical Ethernet traffic on the same network.

To help make more sense of the TSN protocols, where, when, and how they should be applied, as well as its long list of benefits, Wind River and a host of other industry luminaries have authored an industry paper on the topic. Those luminaries hail from such leaders as Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments, TTTech Auto, Intel, Parry Labs, and Aptiv.

In the paper, the authors outline the benefits behind the TSN standards that have been ratified, and how many TSN standards are still being defined, reviewed and ratified, especially the industry profiles. One goal behind the paper is to remove any reticence to adopt the TSN standard, and how to address this potentially moving target of specifications.

Titled “Hitting the Moving Target with Time Sensitive Networking,” the industry paper takes a back-to-basics approach that implementers can use in adopting TSN today, with an eye toward future-proofing their systems for tomorrow. While outlining the clear benefits to having a deterministic network approach, it shows that companies from across the embedded ecosystem share a common perspective on TSN. That ecosystem includes the microprocessors, the boards, the system-level hardware, the operating systems, and the applications. And it includes recommendations for how and specifically which portions of the standard can be (safely) adopted.

The benefits an OEM can expect to realize when implementing TSN include:

  • Reduced complexity
  • Improved quality of service (QoS)
  • Scalability
  • Better data access
  • Improved monitoring/fault detection
  • Better cyber-resilience
  • Future-proofing
  • Convergence of IT and OT networks
  • Interoperability and vendor neutrality

The conclusion you can expect to reach after reading the industry paper is that the success of TSN depends on interoperability and performance. To date, some 20 TSN-related standards have been completed and another 10 are in draft status. Vendors and implementers will continue to collaborate to refine the standards that comprise TSN. If nothing else, you should come away with the understanding that a TSN-based platform will, at a minimum, provide a solid foundation for building future-proof products.

Networking & 5G