Ethernet evolution: Broadcom switches offer Time Sensitive Ethernet

Time Sensitive Networks that brings standard deterministic real-time communications over Ethernet

Broadcom this week introduced a family of Ethernet switches that support new technology aimed at helping users address the rising network implications of the Internet of Things, automotive networking and video applications.

+More on Network World: Ethernet: Are there worlds left to conquer?+

Key to that strategy is that the new family -- Broadcom StrataConnect BCM53570 – features support for an emerging Ethernet protocol technology called Time Sensitive Networks that brings standard deterministic real-time communications over Ethernet. The IEEE TSN standards define 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.

Some of the key features of the BCM53570 family includes

  • Support for flexible bandwidth and port speeds to include L2 switching for 1G, 2.5G, 10G, 25G & 50G.
  • Broadcom Quartz chips support a suite of nine related IEEE standards for time-sensitive networks
  • Integrated ARM processors
  • Cut-through line-rate switching
  • Integrated HSR/PRP (High-availability Seamless Redundancy; Parallel Redundancy Protocol which will let users mix current Ethernet environments with new TSN-based networks.
  • Wired / wireless tunnel overlay support

The key point of the BCM53570 family is that it fully implements TSN standards right out of the chute, said Jeff Nightingale, senior product line manager, Core Switch Group at Broadcom. That means it supports Time Synchronization where nodes in network are synchronized with master timing [802.1AS Rev, 1588v2]; guaranteed low latency for high priority packets even with interfering low priority traffic – a concept known as preemption [802.1Qbu/ 802.3br]; Time Aware scheduling that pauses low-priority traffic before express traffic arrives [802.1Qbv ]; Deterministic delivery of time sensitive traffic and redundancy that lets redundant copies sent in two different links – at least one copy received in event of a single failure [802.1CB ].

“TSN is an important standard especially in the manufacturing/industrial world that is littered with expensive, proprietary field bus technologies,” Nightingale said. “TSN-based networks will enable a variety of new industrial, automotive and telecom applications.”

For example, it is expected that TSN-enabled Ethernet could be useful in linking multiple sensors in an automated vehicle where network time sensitivity and predictability in would be critical.

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. TSN enhancements for Industrial Ethernet provide standards-based determinism and reliability needed for these applications.

+More on Network World: The growing importance of Time Sensitive Networks+

There is a growing force pushing TSN in new directions as well. In November the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory to set up three new industry specific Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) consortiums – Automotive Networking, Industrial Networking, and ProAV Networking aimed at developing deterministic performance within standard Ethernet for real-time, mission critical applications.

The TSN Industrial Networking Consortium brings together stakeholders to realize the benefits of TSN – bandwidth, security, interoperability, and latency and synchronization for IIoT, robotics, assembly plants, and machines, as well as shape the standards and protocols for TSN in the industrial market,” according to the UNH-IOL.

In the video networking world, the university wrote: “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. 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.”

The Industrial Internet Consortium will feature a Time Sensitive Networking Testbed demo at the upcoming Hannover Messe 2017 trade fair on April 24-28, 2017.

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