Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) is a deterministic Ethernet communication method developed as part of the IEC/IEEE 60802 standard that enables the prioritization of certain data types over others with the goal of enabling the rapid transfer of control system data in applications that cannot tolerate even a small amount of latency, such as high-speed motion control.
Amid all the advances made with TSN over the past several years, interoperability has emerged as a challenge for some TSN implementations. To address this, Avnu Alliance, an industry forum focused on pushing deterministic capabilities into open, standards-based networking, recently hosted an international “plugfest” in Boston. The event allowed Avnu members to come together and test their respective platforms and products.
The plugfest gave participants a chance to test new TSN developments, such as the recent revision to 802.1AS, which governs timing and synchronization for TSN applications. According to Avnu Alliance, the results of the event will inform future test plans.
“Plugfests are an invaluable opportunity to validate TSN features on our silicon and how our low-level software interoperates with others. [Doing this testing] remote is not a practical option when nanoseconds matter,” says Pekka Varis, senior member technical staff, Texas Instruments.
According to Avnu Alliance, "The unique mix of devices and testing equipment [at the plugfest] enabled insights to be gathered in real world scenarios, such as various implementations of 802.1AS on a single network. The range of perspectives and experience provided for constructive and lively discussions between suppliers and users of TSN components to take place on real world usages and needs."
Plugfest follows from the formation of the Silicon Validation Task Group by Avnu in March 2020. The group has been working to create alignment on TSN interoperability by developing base test plans, the first of which are now available to members. In October 2021, Avnu also announced its Advanced Certificate Program to provide faster and less expensive testing and certification of endpoint devices.
Companies with end devices that use TSN were also present at the plugfest, including Adamson Systems Engineering, L-Acoustics, Meyer Sound, and Keysight. While many participants represented audio-video companies, which is not surprising considering that the TSN standard emerged from this industry, their use of TSN will have repercussions across other industries where TSN is used.
The Avnu Alliance plans to host more plugfests this year at various locations around the world.