TSN testbed is combining real network traffic on a single network

It’s being used to demonstrate the capabilities of this Ethernet enhancement.

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief

The time-sensitive networking (TSN) testbed is overseen by the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), and its goal is to bring together technologies from various companies and demonstrate Ethernet (IEEE 802) standards in a manufacturing ecosystem.

At the 2017 ODVA Industry Conference in Palm Harbor, Florida, Paul Didier, Internet of Things solution architect at Cisco, shared a comprehensive update on the testbed and related plugfests. Four ODVA members—Cisco, Bosch Rexroth, Schneider Electric and Innovasic, which was acquired by Analog Devices—are participating in the testbed.

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The testbed will combine different traffic flows on a single network based on IEEE 802.1, will demonstrate the real-time capability and interoperability using standard, converged Ethernet, will evaluate security value of TSN, will show the ability to incorporate high-performance and latency-sensitive applications and will provide integration points for smart edge-cloud control systems.

“We’d like to see applications use a single open-architecture infrastructure,” explained Didier. TSN is an Ethernet enhancement. Without it, suppliers must use specialized non-IEEE conformant network technology in their products, restricting their participation in IoT developments. “We’ve already had four plugfests,” said Didier.

“On June 20-23, we conducted the first TSN plugfest with the testbed at National Instruments headquarters in Austin, Texas,” said Didier. “The testbed was officially open and available. Participants included National Instruments, Cisco, TTTech, GE, Schneider Electric, Kuka, Intel, Analog Devices and Ixia.” The objectives were to establish end-device synchronization via 802.1AS networking-based time services; to define TSN flows in central network controller and distribute schedule to network infrastructure; to communicate I/O traffic via TSN flows; and to measure and verify TSN performance with Ixia testing tools. “All participants with end devices achieved synchronization,” said Didier.


In the near future, centralized configuration of the time-sensitive features will be achieved.

On Oct. 3-5, the second TSN plugfest was conducted in Austin. The objectives were similar, but in a demonstrable testbed. “Time synchronization, traffic scheduling and system configuration were tested,” explained Didier. “These were the key goals of the plugfest. First, we wanted to validate that they have the time synchronization working.”

Traffic scheduling entailed proving deterministic qualities.

“For system configuration, right now we’ve got one domain,” explained Didier. “What we want is the users’ tools telling the network-configuration tool, ‘This is what I need,’ and then taking the requirements and figuring a solution and distributing a schedule.”

In the near future, centralized configuration of the time-sensitive features will be achieved, making it possible to coordinate motion control, I/O, controller-to-controller and machine-to-machine communications, seamlessly across the same network backbone, explained Didier. “Further data from any or all of these applications can be made seamlessly available to the user via the network or through the cloud,” he said.

“We’re building another testbed at Bosch Rexroth in Germany and will be having a plugfest there in March,” said Didier. “We are going to try to get a linear-motion application working in Germany. Our objective is to have a line-motion application running over TSN.”