Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) empowering AI

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Phoenix Contact demonstrated an integrated TSN system consisting of a controller and managed switches for Profinet for the first time at the SPS automation trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany. The TSN system enables the implementation of convergent IT/OT networks, including for AI applications such as machine learning.

Currently, IT and OT applications are often implemented in separate networks so as not to overload them and to ensure real-time critical communication. A convergent network that is used equally by IT and OT applications harbors high, mostly untapped potential. A convergent network is particularly helpful for AI applications, such as optical anomaly detection: Large amounts of data have to be transported from the field to the AI, while the result of the AI operation affects the process to be controlled in real time.

Here, high-precision time synchronization is essential for processing and evaluating the distributed data from the field. TSN technology enables this network convergence with various tools. In order to exploit the above-mentioned potential, Phoenix Contact has presented a TSN system based on a controller based on PLCnext Technology and managed switches. Profinet is used as the real-time protocol. The managed switches are now also available in versions with a fiber-optic connection.

All devices support TSN functions such as Quality of Service, pre-emption, precise time synchronization with PTP, and synchronous communication. They therefore enable the advantages of TSN to be used in the Profinet environment without changing the application view. Existing Profinet devices can also be used unchanged.

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