UNH-IOL promotes time-sensitive-networking interoperability across industries

Nov. 10, 2016

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), an independent provider of broad-based testing and standards conformance services for the networking industry, today announced the launch of three industry-specific time-sensitive-networking (TSN) consortia—addressing automotive networking, industrial networking, and pro AV networking. TSN provides deterministic performance within standard Ethernet for real-time, mission-critical applications. By providing high quality test plans, tools, and test beds for TSN, UNH-IOL allows businesses to improve products and accelerate market readiness.

Bob Noseworthy, chief engineer at UNH-IOL, said the goal is to foster industry-wide collaboration by providing access to professional services as well as to a multimillion-dollar testbed with equipment from companies including Calnex, Ixia, and Spirent. The lab began accepting members to the new consortia November 1. The consortia are member-driven and member-funded, he said, with members shaping the direction and prioritization of activities.

“Standards-based precise time, guaranteed bandwidth, and guaranteed worst-case latency in a converged Ethernet network is a game-changer to many industries,” Noseworthy said. “Through UNH-IOL’s industry-specific TSN consortiums, companies can be at the forefront and drive the technology forward by validating their solutions with a full suite of testing services, which will allow applications such as self-driving cars and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to take off.”

In addition to working with member companies, Noseworthy said, the lab works with standards bodies ranging from the IEEE to the Avnu Alliance and the Industrial Internet Consortium.

Originally established as a “best effort” network, Ethernet needs additional specific features to deploy mission-critical applications. TSN standards enable deterministic real-time communication over Ethernet, allowing solutions to be built to provide extremely precise, predictable timing across the network. By adding features to Ethernet such as time synchronization, ingress policing, seamless redundancy, frame preemption, scheduled traffic, and stream reservation, TSN ensures mission-critical, time-sensitive data is not held up on the network, promoting an interoperable ecosystem spanning across many industries. As TSN standards mature, UNH-IOL consortium members are able to support rapid development of conformance and interoperability solutions for emerging standards, validating their silicon and early products by gaining access to test solutions as well as multi-vendor test beds.

A major driving force behind the development of TSN standards is the emerging automotive Ethernet market. Noseworthy said the future connected, autonomous vehicle requires the time sensitivity and predictability that TSN provides to support advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) requirements and to enable sensor fusion—in which, for example, a camera and radar sensor can synchronize their detection of an object.

Supporting automotive OEMs and manufacturers supplying OEMs enabled with deterministic Ethernet solutions, the TSN Automotive Networking Consortium provides a setting for collaboration and participation in shaping the emerging standards through neutral, third-party conformance and interoperability testing.

TSN’s importance is also emerging in industrial automation due to the rise in interest around the IIoT, specifically the mission-critical, time-sensitive data that must be transferred and shared within strict bounds of latency and reliability. Proprietary initiatives exist, Noseworthy said, but the lab’s goal is a standards-based implementation.

TSN enhancements for Industrial Ethernet provide standards-based determinism and reliability needed for these applications. The TSN Industrial Networking Consortium brings together stakeholders to realize the benefits of TSN—bandwidth, security, interoperability, low latency, and synchronization for IIoT, robotics, assembly plants, and machines, as well as to shape the standards and protocols for TSN in the industrial market.

Recent enhancements and certifications in the audio/video market have created a wider choice of compatible products and open technology that brings high-quality AV networking within the reach of any size Professional AV system. TSN enhancements provide the important timing audio and video systems need. As an example, Noseworthy said that stadium and theater sound systems are often implemented as a “phased array” of speakers, with close synchronization required to “steer” the audio beam or “sound lobe” into the audience. TSN offers an alternative to carefully matched analog audio cables.

The Pro AV Networking TSN Consortium is a testing ground for the promises of seamless redundancy, low-latency, and synchronization in the professional audio/video market.

To learn more about joining the new consortia, visit Automotive Networking TSN Consortium, Industrial Networking TSN Consortium, and Pro AV Networking TSN Consortium.

Founded in 1988, the UNH-IOL provides independent, broad-based interoperability and standards conformance testing for data, telecommunications, and storage networking products and technologies. Combining extensive staff experience, standards-bodies participation and a 28,000+ square foot facility an hour north of Boston in Durham, NH, the UNH-IOL helps companies efficiently and cost effectively deliver products to the market. More than 120 graduate and undergraduate students work at the lab, gaining the experience necessary to enter industry well prepared. Visit www.iol.unh.edu for more.

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