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AVnu Alliance amasses support for industrial, automotive IoT

Posted: 16 Dec 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:AVnu Alliance? industrial? automotive IoT? Ethernet? TSN?

The AVnu Alliance was initially established to support the use of Ethernet as the backbone for audio/video data distribution, according to Todd Walter, senior group manager at National Instruments. When the IEEE defined the audio video bridging (AVB) standard for Ethernet, the alliance wanted to boost uptake of the standard by defining interoperability criteria and performing conformance testing to certify implementations.

Now, the alliance is gearing up to do the same thing for the emerging Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) extension of Ethernet AVB for industrial and automotive applications. As part of its expanded focus, the Alliance has added new members Belden, General Electric and National Instruments to a line-up that included such companies as Broadcom, Cisco, Intel and Xilinx.

Professional audio/video (AV) distribution and industrial control both have a need for low-latency, deterministic, high-bandwidth networking connectivity for time-critical distribution of information. Now they also have in common the Ethernet standards and the AVnu Alliance.

TSN is an expansion on Ethernet that targets industrial networking requirements, aiming to keep worst-case delays under 4us per hop (at 1Gb/s for short messages). It also aims to improve network robustness by providing alternative paths and multiple clock paths with instantaneous switchover, along with seamless redundancy using multiple simultaneous streams. The standard further aims to be scalable to large installations by reducing management traffic needed for configuration and bandwidth reservations.

"What's driving the need for an industrial Ethernet standard is the Internet of Things," said Walter. "There is a convergence of servers, data, analytics and visualisation occurring. Each has existed in its own silo, but the IoT is bringing those pieces together."

"For the industrial IoT to work," noted Dan Sexton, project leader at GE Global Research, "we need a set of standards everyone can conform to and get the data flowing. Ethernet has tended to be a rallying point for industrial systems, but there have been concerns over a lack of determinism. The goal of TSN is to resolve the problems and create an even stronger rallying point."

The TSN effort involves multiple subgroups of the IEEE 802 standards that define Ethernet, including: Project 802.1ASbt amendment to time-sync, Project 802.1Qbu amendment to switch standard for pre-emption, Project 802.1Qbv amendment to switch standard for time-aware queuing, Project 802.1Qca amendment to support path control and registration for redundant networks, Project 802.1CB to support seamless redundancy in IEEE 802 networks, and Project 802.1Qcc amendment to update existing Stream Reservation Protocol to support Qbu/Qbv/Qca/CB technology.

TSN standards inch closer to implementation

Most of these standards efforts are technically stable, according to Broadcom senior technical director Michael Teener, but are probably a year or more from being ready for ratification. Still, the AVnu Alliance seeks to begin preparing the industry for TSN. "There is enough coalescence that we can start as vendors and consumers," said Paul Didier, IoT architect at Cisco, "to think about how to create certifications, do interoperability testing, and the like, so we're ready when the standards are ratified."

There is also still time to for the alliance and others to influence the final details of the emerging standards, according to Sexton, but the clock is ticking. "The standards groups are putting out for comments drafts for parts of the toolbox," indicated Sexton. "The time is now if you want to see particular capabilities included in the first released version."

To that end, the AVnu Alliance is inviting those with an interest in shaping industrial Ethernet to join the effort. "We're looking to build the common foundation everyone needs," said Didier. "We don't want to further fragment what is already a fragmented market. So join the Alliance, and, if you're not ready to make that commitment, we have an Industrial Advisory Council (free to join) for manufacturers and end-users to help shape the future of industrial networking."

- Rich Quinnell
??EE Times

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