Easy qualification of time-sensitive networking (TSN) solutions
The Linux OS, especially with PREEMPT-RT, is widely used in automation devices, with growing popularity. Recent Linux versions support Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). Phoenix Contact’s PLCnext Tech ecosystem, based on RT Linux, supports TSN on suitable Ethernet hardware.
Testing hardware uniformity in Linux for easy integration into systems like PLCnext Control is the next step. Linux-based automation devices consist of hardware (CPU, TSN-capable MAC, PHY), kernel (core functions, network driver), network interfaces, industrial middleware (e.g., Profinet, OPC UA), application, and synchronization.
TSN’s key feature is precise application synchronization. Recent kernel versions integrate Ethernet TSN mechanisms in RT Linux, benefiting manufacturers by enabling neutral TSN solutions without specialized hardware. The presented test environment validates implementations, promoting TSN’s simple and robust use in Linux-based devices across manufacturers, driving wider Time-Sensitive Network adoption.
Testing on widely used TSN-capable network chips
The responsibility for TSN implementation under Linux has shifted from device manufacturers, like Phoenix Contact, to chip manufacturers. Consequently, an automation device’s performance and quality hinge on the underlying TSN hardware and software. This shift has prompted device manufacturers to develop their network drivers to ensure the desired quality. In some cases, specific hardware, like FPGAs, is required, adding expenses and making hardware changes during a product’s lifespan more complicated.
Hence, the opportunity for independent hardware and driver validation from chip manufacturers before device development and hardware setup is particularly appealing to device manufacturers. Chip manufacturers with TSN solutions not tied to specific automation applications also share this interest.
With Linux now incorporating essential TSN functions, the need for an autonomous TSN test environment has arisen. In response, Phoenix Contact collaborated with chip manufacturer Intel to design appropriate test tools, testing them on widely used TSN-capable network chips. These tools will be eventually released as an open-source solution within a suitable organization, serving all interested parties. This approach enables chip and device manufacturers to validate their respective TSN products. Additionally, the tools can aid in comparing solutions and educating customers or research entities about TSN.
Performing highly accurate measurements of runtimes and deviations
To independently qualify a chip manufacturer’s TSN solution, an emulation replaces the industrial middleware and application. This emulation simulates the behavior of an automation device. After successful testing, the emulation is substituted with the manufacturer’s middleware and device application.
Find out more on our website.