Moxa, Hirschmann, Hilscher and Xilinx support EtherCAT approach

Tuesday May 08, 2018
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
May 8, 2018 - The approach to Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) as introduced by the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) has gained additional support from four TSN technology providers and switch manufacturers: Moxa, Hirschmann, Hilscher and Xilinx. 

The four switch vendors will implement the EtherCAT TSN stream adaptation functionality in their TSN switches and infrastructure products, which they say will allow users to directly connect EtherCAT slave devices and entire networks to heterogeneous TSN domains without any change or modification to the EtherCAT devices.

The EtherCAT Technology Group in November 2017 billed itself as the first major fieldbus organization to publish a TSN profile that specifies how EtherCAT will make use of TSN technologies. Because EtherCAT uses TSN streams for deterministic communication through heterogeneous network environments, it is used above the EtherCAT segments. This means that all the high-performance features of EtherCAT are fully preserved, and EtherCAT devices do not have to be modified for TSN at all, the parties explain.

“Even though TSN has not yet arrived in real-world applications, key technology providers have already committed themselves to the EtherCAT approach,” said ETG executive director Martin Rostan.

The TSN stream adaptation feature that connects the EtherCAT segment to the TSN network can be placed in the TSN switch or in the first EtherCAT device, they explain, adding that key TSN technology providers are announcing their support for this approach.

“TSN technology ensures reliable delivery of critical data and opens up exciting new possibilities for EtherCAT. It is for this reason that we are strongly committed to providing support for the EtherCAT TSN approach,” said Jack Lin, product manager at Moxa.

This is further underlined by Oliver Kleineberg, Global CTO of Industrial Networking with Hirschmann, a Belden Brand.

“The TSN stream adaption functionality allows the proven and well established EtherCAT technology to seamlessly interface with TSN networks. This means EtherCAT can immediately utilize the benefits of TSN networks, creating a feasible way forward to address the requirements of demanding automation applications now and in the future,” Kleineberg said.

The EtherCAT Technology Group is coordinating the TSN-related EtherCAT specifications through a liaison with the IEEE 802.1 Working Group. As a result, the ETG Technical Working Group can access draft IEEE 802.1 specifications which it says will help ensure the EtherCAT TSN profile follows the latest developments. The stream adaptation feature in the profile describes the use of standard TSN features and does not make any changes to TSN, nor does it require any changes in standard EtherCAT devices.

“New automation technologies need embedded platforms with adaptable services and the right connectivity. TSN is a breakthrough that helps create new business models and EtherCAT's impressive ecosystem provides proven field devices. That's why Xilinx's engineering teams and the networking specialist company SoC-e brought EtherCAT and TSN onto Xilinx® Zynq® SoCs for a successful deployment of TSN that has already been established today,” explained Christoph Fritsch, Industrial IoT, Scientific & Medical Business Unit Director of Xilinx.

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