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Introducrion Ethernet RT ( I )

Introducrion Ethernet RT ( I )

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1
©2004ContemporaryControlSystems,Inc.
(NopartoftheExtensionmaybereproducedwithoutthewrittenconsentofContemporaryControls.)
Volume5Issue3MAY-JUNE
INTRODUCTION
Real-time electronic distributed control systems arean important development of the technologicalevolution. Electronics are employed to control andmonitor most safety-critical applications from flightdecks to hospital operating rooms. As these real-timesystems become increasingly prevalent and advanced,so does the demand to physically distribute the controlin strict real-time. Thus, there is a need for controlnetwork protocols to support stringent real-timerequirements. Real-time networks must provide aguarantee of service so they will consistently operatedeterministically and correctly.Ethernet, as defined in IEEE 802.3, is non-deterministicand thus, is unsuitable for hard real-time applications.The media access control protocol, CSMA/CD with itsbackoff algorithm, prevents the network from supportinghard real-time communication due to its random delaysand potential transmission failures.Decreasing costs and increasing demand for a singlenetwork type, from boardroom to plant-floor, have ledto the development of Industrial Ethernet. The desire toincorporate a real-time element into this increasingly popular single-network solution has led to thedevelopment of different real-time Industrial Ethernetstrategies. Fieldbus networking standards have failed todeliver an integrated solution. Typically, emerging real-time Industrial Ethernet solutions complementthefieldbus standards
 
 — 
 
for example, by using commonuser layers. This article covers an introduction to real-time systems and a study of Ethernet’s potential as areal-time network. Part 2 provides a study of thereal-time Industrial Ethernet solutions available today.
Real-Time Introduction 
Real-Time (RT) systems are becoming increasingly important, as industries focus on distributed computingin automation, see Figure 1. As computing costsdecrease, and computing power increases, industry hasrelied more on distributed computers to deliverefficiency and increased yield to production lines. RTdoes not automatically mean faster execution, but ratherthat a process is dependent on the progression of time for valid execution.RT systems are those that depend not solely on the validity of data but also on its timeliness. A correct RTsystem will guarantee successful system operation—sofar as its timely execution is concerned. RT systems aregenerally broken into two main sub-categories: hardand soft.
Hard Real-Time
(HRT) systems are those in whichincorrect operation can lead to catastrophic events.Errors in HRT systems can cause accidents or evendeath, such as in flight control or train control.
Soft Real-Time
(SRT) systems, on the other hand,are not as brittle. An error in a SRT system, while notencouraged, will not cause loss of property or life. SRTsystems are not as safety-critical as HRT systems, andshould not be employed in a safety-critical situation.Examples of SRT systems are online reservationsystems and streaming multimedia applications whereoccasional delays are inconvenient but not serious.
 Jobs
are the RT system’s building blocks. Each RT jobhas certain temporal quantities (Figure 2):1. Release Time,2. Ready Time,3. Execution Time,4. Response Time,5. Deadline.
Release Time
of a job is when a job becomesavailable to the system.
Execution Time
is the timefor a job to be completely processed.
Response Time
is the interval between release time and completion of the execution.
Ready Time
is the earliest time a jobcan start executing (never less than the Release Time).The
Deadline
is the time by which execution must befinished, beyond which the job is late. A deadline canbe either hard or soft, indicating the job’s temporaldependence. As mentioned earlier, a missed hard dead-line can have serious consequences. All RT systemshave a certain level of 
 jitter 
(a variance on actualtiming). In a RT system, jitter should be measurable sosystem performance can be guaranteed. For textbookinformation on RT systems, refer to [
1
].
IntroductiontoReal-TimeEthernetI
ByPaula Doyle, a doctoral researcher with theCircuitsand SystemsResearch Centreat theUniversityof Limerick in Ireland 
Node with RT ClockRT NetworkController Station 3Station 1 Station 2
Figure 1— Distributed Real-Time Processing
 
ReleaseTimeReadyTime DeadlineExecution TimetimeRespon se Time
 
2
To develop a RT distributed system ofinterconnectedcomputers, it is vital to provide communication amongthe various computers in a reliable and timely fashion.Distributed processors running RT applications must beable to intercommunicate via a RT protocol, otherwisethe temporal quality of work is lost.
Real-TimeCommunication 
networks are like any RT system.They can be hard or soft, depending on requirementsand their ‘jobs’ include message transmission,propagation, and reception. A number of RT controlnetworks are employed in industry, but none have thepopularity or bandwidth of Ethernet.
The Demand for Real-Time Ethernet 
Demand for Ethernet as a RT control network isincreasing as manufacturers realize the benefits of employing a single network technology fromboardroom to plant floor. Decreased product costsplus the possibility of overlapping training andmaintenance costs for information, field level, controland possibly device networks would greatly reducemanufacturers’ expense. At the RT control level, Ethernet offers many benefits over existing solutions. As a control network,10 Gbps Ethernet offers bandwidth almost 1000x fasterthan today’s comparable fieldbus networks (such as the12 Mbps of ProfiBus) and can also support RTcommunication. Distributed applications in controlenvironments require tight synchronization so toguarantee the delivery of control messages withindefined message cycle times (typical times appear inTable 1). Traditional Ethernet and fieldbus systemscannot meet cycle time requirements below a few milliseconds, but emerging RT Industrial Ethernetsolutions allow cycle times of a few microseconds. Along with the increased bandwidth and tightsynchronization, RT Ethernet gives manufacturers thesecurity of using a physical and data-link layer technology that has been standardized by both the IEEE and theISO. Ethernet can provide reduced complexity with allthe attributes required of a field, control or devicenetwork
 
 — 
 
in operations having up to 30 differentnetworks installed at this level [
2
]. Furthermore,Ethernet devices can also support TCP/IP stacks so thatEthernet can easily gate to the Internet. This feature isattractive to users since it allows remote diagnostics,control, and observation of their plant network fromany Internet-connected device around the world with alicense-free web browser. Although Ethernet doesintroduce overhead through its minimum message datasize (46 bytes),which is large in comparison to existingcontrol network standards, its increased bandwidth,standardization and integration with existing planttechnology should generate good reasons to considerEthernet as a control network solution.
Ethernet and CSMA/CD 
Ethernet, as defined in IEEE 802.3, is unsuitable forstrict RT industrial applications because its communicationis non-deterministic. This is due to the definition of itsmedia access control (MAC) protocol, based on CarrierSense Multiple Access/ Collision Detection (CSMA/CD).The implementation described in the standard uses atruncated binary exponential backoff algorithm. With CSMA/CD, each node can detect if anothernode is transmitting on the medium (Carrier Sense). When a node detects a carrier, its Carrier Sense isturned on and it will defer transmission until determiningthe medium is free. If two nodes transmit simultaneously (Multiple Access), a collision occurs and all frames aredestroyed. Nodes detect collisions (Collision Detection)by monitoring the
collisionDetect 
signal provided by the physical layer. When a collision occurs, the nodetransmits a
 jam sequence
. When a node begins transmission there is a timeinterval, called the Collision Window, during which acollision can occur. This window is large enough toallow the signal to propagate around the entirenetwork/segment. When this window is over, all(functioning) nodes should have their Carrier Sense on,and so would not attempt to commence transmission. When a collision occurs, the truncated binary exponential backoff algorithm is employed at each‘colliding’ node. The algorithm works as follows:
Initially: n:=0, k:=0, r:=0.
 When a collision occurs, the node enters thealgorithm which states:It increments
, the Transmit Counter, whichtracks the number of sequential collisionsexperienced by a node.If 
> 16, (16 unsuccessful successive transmissionattempts), transmission fails and the higher layersshould be informed.If 
<= 16, select a number from the set
= min(n, 10) (Truncation).A random number,
, is selected from the set(0,1,2,4...2
k
) (Exponential and Binary).The node then waits
x slot_time beforerecommencing a transmission attempt.One advantage of this backoff algorithm is that itcontrols the medium load. If the medium is heavily loaded, the likelihood of collisions increases, and thealgorithm increases the interval from which the randomdelay time is chosen. This should lighten the load andreduce further collisions.Ethernet introduces the possibility of completetransmission failure and the possibility of randomtransmission time, hence IEEE 802.3’s non-determinism
Figure 2
 
and unsuitability for RT communications—especially onheavily-loaded networks. Re-definition of the mediaaccess protocol could solve the problem but wouldleave the new nodes unable to interoperate with legacy Ethernet nodes.Ethernet is non-deterministic only if collisions canoccur. To implement a completely deterministicEthernet, all collisions must be avoided. A collisiondomain is a CSMA/CD segment where simultaneoustransmissions can produce a collision and wherecollision probability increases with the number of nodes transmitting. Completely avoiding collisions,therefore, gives Ethernet
 
 — 
 
 with a relatively largebandwidth and popularity 
 
 — 
 
an opportunity to bedeveloped for the RT domain. The most common way of implementing a collision-free Ethernet is through theuse of hardware. A situation where two or more nodes compete formedium access to a network segment is calledShared Ethernet.
Full & Half Duplex Ethernet 
 When Ethernet was standardized in 1985, allcommunication was half duplex. Half duplex restricts anode to either transmit or receive at a time but notto perform both actions concurrently.Nodes sharing a half duplex connection are in thesame collision domain. This means these nodes willcompete for bus access, and their frames may collide with other frames on the network. Unless access to thebus is controlled at a higher level and highly synchronized across all nodes on the collision domain,collisions can occur and RT communication isnot guaranteed.Full duplex communication was standardized forEthernet in the 1997 edition of 802.3 as IEEE 802.3x. With full duplex, a node can transmit and receivesimultaneously, but only two devices can be connectedon a single full duplex link—typically a node-to-switchor switch-to-switch configuration. Theoretically, fullduplex links can double available network bandwidthfrom 10 to 20 Mbps or 100 to 200 Mbps, but in practiceit is limited by the internal processing capability of each node. Full duplex provides every node with aunique collision domain—completely avoidingcollisions and even ignoring the traditionalCSMA/CD protocol.Since full duplex links have a maximum of twonodes per link, such technology is not viable as anindustrial RT solution without the use of fast, intelligentswitches that can form a network with single collisiondomains for each node
 — 
i.e., Switched Ethernet.
Full Duplex, Switched Ethernet 
 With Shared Ethernet, nodes compete for access tothe media in their shared collision domains.The use of a non-deterministic bus accessscheme, such as CSMA/CD, makes sharedEthernet unviable as a RT networksolution. The most popular method of collision-avoidance, which produces adeterministic Ethernet, introduces singlecollision domains for each node guaranteeingthe node exclusive use of the medium andeliminating access contention. This isachieved by implementing full duplex linksand hardware devices such as switches andbridges. These devices can isolate collision domainsthrough the segmentation of thenetwork because each device port is configured as asingle collision domain. Although, both switches andbridges will suffice, switches are more flexible becausethey allow more segments.
Switches
Switches are data-link layer hardware devices thatpermit single-collision domains through networksegmentation. While a bridge operates like a switch, itonly contains two ports compared to switches thathave more than two—with each port connected to acollision domain. Switches can operate in half duplexor full duplex mode. When full duplex switches areused with full duplex capable nodes, no segment willhave collisions. Today’s switches are more intelligentand faster and with careful design and implementationcould be used to achieve a hard RT communicationnetwork using IEEE 802.3. Although switches are data-link layer devices, they can perform switching functions based on data fromlayers 3 and 4. Layer 3 switches can operate oninformation provided by IP
 — 
such as IP version,source/destination address or type of service. Layer 4devices can switch by source/destination port or eveninformation from the higher-level application.Further refinements to the IEEE 802 standards,specifically for switch operations, are 802.1p and802.1Q. IEEE 802.1p (incorporated into IEEE 802.1D[
3
]) brings Quality of Service (QoS) to the MAC leveland defines how these switches deal with prioritization — priority determination, queue management, etc. Thisis achieved by adding a 3-bit priority field to the MACheader, giving 8 (0-7) different priority levels for use by switches or hubs. As defined, 802.1p supports prioritieson topologies compatible with its prioritization service,but for Ethernet, which has no prioritization field in itsframe format, it uses 802.1Q.
3
Control ApplicationLow speed sensors (e.g. temp. pressure)Drive control systemsM otion control (e.g. robotics)Precision motion controlHigh-speed devicesElectronic ranging (e.g. fault detection)Tens of millisecondsM illisecondsHundreds of microsecondsTens of microsecondsM icrosecondsM icrosecondsTypical Cycle Time
Table 1— Typical Cycle Times for Control Applications

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