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TSN and Certification: the Building Blocks for Converged Networks

Jul 17, 2024

Businesses have always been built on networks to connect people, devices, and applications. Over time, networks have become more complex and more interconnected. Take the industrial sector, for example, where increasing automation has seen an explosion in the number of internet connected devices being used to perform critical everyday operational tasks. Indeed, the Industrial IoT (IIoT) market worldwide is expected to continue to expand, with projections indicating it will be worth $525.20bn USD by 2028.

As more devices and technologies enter the market, networks are only going to grow in size and complexity, with greater diversity of applications. For these to run as seamlessly as possible, businesses need to streamline their services into one single network infrastructure, capable of hosting numerous device types and applications with mixed-criticality requirements. Some devices also require deterministic data exchanges; they cannot afford network congestion to interrupt or delay time-critical commands or actions. Therefore, it’s important that the network can ensure data arrives exactly where and when it should.

This makes Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) a critical tool for businesses. Devised by the IEEE 802.1 TSN Task Group, TSN standards can help networks become more timing-aware and ensure the convergence of mixed-criticality applications. Defined as a family of open industry standards, TSN capabilities can ensure the convergency of multiple higher-layer communication protocols and applications on a shared, standards-based network.


Bringing Interoperable TSN to market

TSN plays a pivotal role in establishing converged networks, which can result in greater simplicity, savings and scalability for businesses within key sectors such as ProAV, industry and automotive. Designed to take advantage of the latest standards, and widely available connectivity technologies (e.g. Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 5G), TSN should be considered a crucial enabler by the wider IT ecosystem, and embraced for the benefits it can bring time-critical operations. This is the vision of Avnu Alliance.

We have constantly championed an ecosystem of interoperable networked devices. By testing and certifying devices that use TSN functionalities, vendors, manufacturers, and users are benefitting from a converged network based on interoperable devices for enabling time-critical, low latent applications, no matter the industry they operate in.

Our verified, validated test plans and tools are also helping to expedite time-to-market for our members’ products, with accredited labs placed across the globe to address the volume of devices requiring certification. It is this vision to making TSN commonplace across all critical industries that has resulted in the Component Certification Program.


A first-of-its-kind TSN certification

First launched in June 2024, the program is the first and only to certify capabilities relating to Time Sensitive Networking (TSN), specifically defined by the IEEE 802.1 TSN standards. The program will ensure conformance with standards for enhanced time synchronization, bounded latency, reliability, and resource management and configuration of converged networks.

By obtaining certification, vendors/manufacturers across multiple markets can ensure their components comply with the core TSN standards, facilitating greater interoperability while mitigating integration issues during deployments. Once these components and devices are certified, the converged networks hosting them will benefit from the program will ensure enhanced time synchronization, bounded latency, reliability, and resource management and configuration.


The importance of certification

Our Component Certification Program is a vital step towards deploying key TSN features and functionalities. By certifying their products, our members can offer businesses access to key TSN capabilities, such as time synchronization and time-aware scheduling.

Through the program, we are testing a subsystem that will implement profile agnostic TSN features, which may be a combination of hardware, IP, firmware, and software with a given configuration. As there are several configurations available, members involved in the program can specify the type of subsystem during the certification registration process to ensure it matches their device types or requirements. Because the program has that profile agnostic nature, it focuses on conformance with the latest TSN standards. It also simplifies the integration of compliant components and devices within existing network infrastructure.


Underpinning ‘future ready’ networks

We are not resting on our laurels when it comes to the program. In addition to certifying time synchronization and enhancements for scheduled traffic, plans are already underway for expansion, to cover additional features such as interspersed express traffic (IET) and the forwarding and queueing of time-sensitive streams (FQTSS) later this year. This will be music to the ears of manufacturers, vendors and solution providers looking to ensure their TSN-capable products continue to meet current – and future – market demands.

For the end user, this also means a larger selection of certified, off-the-shelf devices to consider. The benefit of certification here is that any certified product selected will be able to be implemented into their networks with the assurance that core TSN capabilities have been implemented and tested through a rigorous validation process.