What is deterministic networking?

Deterministic networking is required in a wide range of current and next-generation connectivity applications that need a network that behaves in a predictable fashion. Deterministic networking is made up of two vital technologies: Bounded latency and precise timing/synchronization. Examples of deterministic networking include:

  • Media networking. Networks that convey audio and video information need to stick to strict timing rules and require predictable or bounded latency. If an audio or video packet arrives late to its destination, the receiving device (for instance a video screen or speaker) has no data to present. In practice this might mean a dropped frame of video, an unwanted audio artifact such as a pop or silence.

Precise timing is needed to enable audio data to be presented from different speakers with a known phase relationship, and synchronization between video and related audio streams.

  • Control networking. Control networks need to accept inputs from sensors, perform control loop processing, and initiate actions in response. Such actions (for example controlling a networked industrial machine or a conveyor belt) are highly time-sensitive. They require deterministic network delays with low-jitter input and output sampling, to create a control system that behaves predictably.
  • Safety-critical networks. Deterministic networks often need to implement redundancy, so that if one part of the network fails, the system can still function robustly and safely. This is an important part of deterministic networking.
  • Mixed media networks. Deterministic networks need to be able to differentiate between data with varying levels of timing-sensitivity and priority. This is important in an environment such as a vehicle, where auto makers would like to be able to use a single network infrastructure for all communications – such as climate control, infotainment, body electronics or driver assistance.

The IEEE AVB/TSN base standards enable deterministic networking as the foundational technology that can satisfy the common needs of these diverse and demanding applications.