NXP – New TSN SoC and reference design smooth the path to real-time Ethernet networking for Industry 4.0

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NXP Semiconductors is providing designers of equipment for Industry 4.0 – the new generation of industrial systems which typically provide real-time control, analysis of vast data sets and support for cloud connectivity – with two new ways to achieve robust real-time Ethernet performance. A new System-on-Chip (SoC), the LS1028A, and a reference design based on the LS1021A applications processor enable designers to quickly implement Ethernet networking systems with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) capabilities as specified by the IEEE 802.1 standards.

Rapidly changing IT infrastructures
As industrial OEMs design solutions for Industry 4.0, they must converge the Operations Technology (OT) domain with their Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. However, OT networks require guaranteed and timely delivery of packets, not the typical best-effort approach used in IT networks today.

At the same time, current technologies in the OT domain often operate at a data rate in the range 10-100Mbits/s, and do not have the bandwidth to support new capabilities which are being implemented
in manufacturing systems, such as high-definition video. The new TSN standards enable legacy IT equipment and OT equipment to operate on the same network, providing Gigabit bandwidth while simplifying network deployment and management.

To provide deterministic Ethernet capability for industrial applications, the IEEE defined the TSN standards to support real-time, reliable networking. TSN represents the next step in the evolution of Ethernet as a ubiquitous networking technology, and TSN-enabled Ethernet will play an important role in the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industry 4.0 revolution. Industry estimates suggest that the industrial internet market could reach a value of $225bn by 2020.

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To support industrial OEMs’ moves towards Industry 4.0, NXP has announced a new QorIQ® Layerscape SoC, the LS1028A with integrated TSN capabilities.

The LS1028A builds on NXP’s Layerscape family of SoCs while adding significant capabilities, including upgraded dual 64-bit ARM® V8 processor cores, an integrated 3D Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and LCD controller, a four-port TSN switch and two separate TSN Ethernet controllers.

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The combination of time-sensitive networking with a GPU enable the SoC to run sophisticated industrial human-machine interfaces and control applications. The device is built on NXP’s Trust Architecture, which provides a root of trust for securing applications and services. It is designed to support TSN bridging as well as TSN endpoint applications.

Robust reference design platform for rapid product development
While the LS1028A is a newly introduced device in pre-production as of June 2017, OEMs can begin developing TSN-enabled systems today using NXP’s TSN reference design platform. The LS1021A Time- Sensitive Networking (TSN) Reference Design board, which has the part number LS1021ATSN-PA, is based on a high-performance QorIQ Layerscape LS1021A industrial applications processor. The LS1021A has dual ARM® Cortex®-A7 cores running at up to 1.2GHz, and built-in memory controllers for DDR3L or DDR4 DRAM memory. The board also features an SJA1105T TSN Ethernet switch, which provides four external Gigabit Ethernet interfaces all with TSN support.

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The reference design platform includes an open-source, industrial Linux Software Development Kit (SDK) offering real-time performance, TSN configuration support, and the IEEE 1588 precision time protocol.

Developers can quickly explore the benefits of TSN time-aware shaping and per-stream policing using the configuration software included with the SDK.

Applications written for the reference design will be forward-compatible with the LS1028A SoC through standard application programming interfaces.

The platform also supports virtualisation, and provides a secure Trust Architecture platform. The board has an Arduino connector which may be used to plug in Arduino shields for peripheral functions such as wireless connectivity.

The LS1021ATSN-PA board is also supplied with:
• 12V power supply
• Universal plug adaptor
• SATA connector
• mPCIe connector (PCIe Gen 2.0)
• CAN interface
• Two UART interfaces
• USB3.0 and USB2.0 interfaces
• USB-A Male to USB Micro-B Male cable
• Ethernet cable
• SD card
• MicroSD card

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