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“Why do I care about TSN?!?!”

“Why do I care about Time Sensitive Networking?!?!”

… is a question we receive all of the time.

Good Question

It’s a valid one particularly because many of the techniques employed by TSN (synchronization, bandwidth reservation, scheduling, etc.) are ones we’ve been using in PROFINET for 15+ years. (If TSN had existed back then, we would have adopted it and saved ourselves lots of engineering effort.) And yet, PROFINET has always allowed high-speed control-related traffic to coexist plainly with other (e.g. TCP/IP) traffic. The exact same principle applies to TSN. So again, why should you care? The answer is subtle and related to the future of networking.

Answer: Future-Proofing

As we move into the Industry 4.0 / IIoT realm, more and more information will be provided to higher level systems. Eventually, it appears that some flattening of the ISA95/Purdue Model may occur. While TSN may not be the driver of this, it certainly can be one of the tools to help enable it. How? In the future we envision more and more bandwidth getting utilized by IT protocols. TSN will ensure time-sensitive (hence the name) OT traffic receives the determinism it requires even on networks loaded with other best-effort IT traffic. As long as they all share a common TSN foundation, then manufacturers can begin implementing converged IT/OT networks without having to worry about their OT traffic being sacrificed at the expense of IT traffic. We want to continue this long-held philosophy because we believe in using ‘the right tool for the right task’: the PROFINET protocol for moving data, other protocols (e.g. OPC UA, MQTT, HTTP, AMQP, etc.) for moving information -all on a single wire.

To read more and for further resources check out the TSN section on our Industry Foursight page. Or watch this short MinutePROFINET video:


Some backstory on TSN:

Standard Ethernet today is not deterministic by design. Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) is a toolkit of roughly two dozen IEEE standards that create standardized deterministic Ethernet. With other industries outside of industrial automation interested in deterministic Ethernet, there is a larger market for the hardware. The idea is that eventually this technology will be available from COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) chips. Of the IEEE standards in the TSN toolbox, we’ve identified roughly half a dozen that are particularly relevant to industrial automation.