Communications

Open Source implementation of OPC UA PubSub over TSN

While the Ethernet standard is successfully used worldwide for uniform network communication, this is only true for network protocols that have no special timing requirements, Open Source might have a new solution. 

When deterministic communication is required to ensure that a network packet is sent or received at a specific time with a predefined maximum jitter, Ethernet based standards were less successful for two reasons.

First, there is not just one protocol, but a wide choice with the disadvantage that the communication partner with whom data is to be exchanged has probably chosen a different one. Second, most of the currently available real-time Ethernet protocols are patented, which makes their use in Open Source systems such as Linux impossible or at least difficult.

However, availability under an Open Source license is predictibly an important prerequisite for the next generation of a unified real-time communications protocol. The reason for this prediction is that in the future data will be sent from sensor level to the cloud and run over a large number and variety of devices from different manufacturers and different ecosystems, just as they do today over Ethernet - which is also not under the control of a single proprietary manufacturer holding a patent.

When the OPC UA network protocol was chosen as the new global standard for industrial communication a few years ago and this was made real-time capable with the Publisher/Subscriber method PubSub in conjunction with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) Ethernet enhancements, there was initially no Open Source implementation available that could be used in proprietary products.

This changed with the founding of the partially publicly funded open62541 project, which is under an Open Source license that allows the software to be used with proprietary components. When it became apparent that this project would need a larger base and more stable funding, the German Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation, the Indian system integrator Kalycito Infotech and the Germany-based international Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) launched a related community project.

In the first two phases, among others, a stable production-ready Open Source implementation of OPC UA PubSub over TSN war provided and a first certification of the SDK by the OPC Foundation was achieved. The recently launched phase #3 of the project intends to reach the next certification level, enhance PubSub security, allow dynamic configuration and provide better modelling and configuration tools.

OSADL is participating at embedded world 2021 and invites interested parties to visit the virtual booth to learn how the project works and how companies can participate.

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