Factory automation needs better Ethernet

Factory automation needs better Ethernet

The factory automation sector has seen massive changes due to rapid digitalization and increasing use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, technologies that require the exchange of significant amounts of real-time data. FA systems must move this data not just rapidly but predictably.

In the industrial environment, machine tools call upon edge computers that incorporate machine-learning algorithms to process video and other sensor data in real time to confirm the tools are working correctly. This significantly loads the networking that connect the elements.

Automotive-style zonal architectures are appearing in industrial systems. However, the challenge with these architectures is ensuring that distributed applications using shared network infrastructure can achieve the same real-time performance as systems based on a more traditional architecture where individual SoCs were able to implement all required functions and just exchange sensor data over dedicated fieldbuses or deterministic networks.

To address this issue, new Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) protocols for Ethernet will allow the use of high-speed networks for real-time applications. TSN Ethernet standards include IEEE 802.1AS, the Generalized Precision Time Protocol (gPTP), which defines timing and synchronization behavior for Ethernet in TSN environments, and the IEEE 802.1Qbv standard, which adds enhancements to allow traffic to be sent according to a strict schedule.

Toshiba’s TC9562 and TC9563 Ethernet controllers are important elements for building reliable TSN support into industrial control systems. Both are highly integrated with full support for gPTP, IEEE 802.1Qav, IEEE 802.1Qbv, and other elements needed for reliable real-time communications where high bandwidth is a key requirement. The TC9562 provides support for 1Gbps Ethernet and is highly suited to industrial automation environments. The TC9563 extends the networking capability to two ports, each able to support 10Gbps, further confirming its suitability for industrial systems where there is a requirement for sharing large quantities of video or high-speed sensor data with AI-enabled edge-computing systems.

Download Toshiba’s whitepaper here:

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