Embedded Ethernet switches have become a staple in military, industrial and automotive applications. For any of these applications, space, performance and reliability have always been key evaluation factors. Typically, embedded Ethernet switches come equipped with 4, 8, 14 and even up to 24 ports on a compact form factor—usually smaller than 4 inches by 4 inches. Embedded switches come in two flavors: managed or unmanaged. If you missed our blog on why you would need managed versus unmanaged Ethernet switches, please check that out here.

Embedded switches are a perfect compliment to a communications backplane that attempts to tie in board-level networked devices such as computers, robotic controls, VoIP, sensors, cameras or any other device that needs to communicate with any other networked device. All of them usually fit in a neat, compact package that easily slips into a confines space.
Recently, Techaya took embedded Ethernet switches to a whole new level of innovation. The MILTECH 9136 supports up 52 ports on a 3.4” x 3.4” footprint. The MILTECH 9136 is ideal for managing and switching large quantities of network-enabled devices with 24 1G ports of plug and play copper, 8 ports 1G SFP fiber, 4 ports of 10G SFP+ fiber, and 4 QSGMII ports for an additional 16 1G fiber interfaces.

The Precision Time Protocol, as defined in the IEEE-1588 standard, provides a method to precisely synchronize compute devices over a Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN) using “clock synchronization. The MILTECH 9136 has both hardware and software support for enhanced 1588 v2 and SyncE features. The switch can support grand master, boundary, slave and transparent modes.

With the ability to time and synchronize network packets over the network, embedded Ethernet switches, can now be used for advanced applications that need network communication to be timely ad precise. Applications include military strike applications, voice and video over IP, and robotic and automation.

With support for multiple communications speeds, advanced managed network features and timing and synchronization, the MILTECH 9136 brings a whole new level of sophistication to embedded Ethernet switches.

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Ethernet is considered (for the most part) a non-deterministic networking scheme, using “best effort” and requiring handshakes and confirmation. While this makes it inherently reliable, it also makes Ethernet natively unsuitable for time-sensitive applications — such as voice/video over IP, Robotic (Motion) Control, Industrial Automation, etc. — that require real-time communication or time synchronization.

The Precision Time Protocol, as defined in the IEEE-1588 standard, provides a method to precisely synchronize compute devices over a Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN) using “clock synchronization.” However, if two clocks are set at the same rate, there is no guarantee that they will stay in synchronization. Therefore, the synchronization process must be continuous.

Clock synchronization on the LAN/WAN requires at least one Master and one Slave clock–multiple Slaves can synchronize to a single Master.  The Master clock provides synchronization messages that the Slaves use to correct their local clocks.  Precise timestamps are captured at the Master and Slave clocks.  These timestamps are then used to determine the network latency which is required to synchronize the Slave to the Master.  A sync message is transmitted typically every two seconds from the Master, and a delay request message from a Slave is transmitted less frequently, approximately one request per minute.


Ethernet Switches

Ethernet switches are categorized as either standard Ethernet switches or IEEE-1588 enabled Ethernet switches.

The IEEE 1588 protocol defines three kinds of clocks (or switches):
a. Ordinary:  A device with a single network connection, either the source of (Master) or destination for (Slave) a synchronization reference.
b. Boundary:  A device with multiple network connections that can accurately synchronize one network segment to another. A synchronization master is selected for each of the network segments in the system. The root timing reference is called the grandmaster.
c. Transparent:  A multi-port device that forwards precision time protocol messages, measuring the time taken for event messages to pass through the device, and accounts for this residence time by modifying the message, or by sending a separate follow-up message.

A standard Ethernet switch temporarily stores packets before sending them out.  The storing time of the packet is non-deterministic and network load-dependent, which results in packet delay variation.  The packet delay variation is the primary reason for poor time synchronization on the network, even when there are Master and Slave devices on the network that support hardware timestamping. An IEEE-1588 enabled Ethernet switch is either a transparent device or a boundary device that improves synchronization between the Master and Slaves, thus ensuring that the Master and Slaves are not impacted by packet delay variation.

As Techaya continues to enhance our products to support mobile military network requirements, we are adding support for IEEE 1588 to our products. One of our newest products, the MILTECH 9136 has both hardware and software support for enhanced 1588 v2 and SyncE features. The switch can support grand master, boundary, slave and transparent modes. The newer Enhanced versions of the MILTECH 904,918, 919, 908, 912, 914, 948, products all support peer-to-peer transparent clock, end-to-end transparent clock, and PTP over IPV4 via software features. Upgrades from Non-enhanced (Ex: 918-00X) versions to Enhanced (Ex: 918-10X) are available at no charge and are field-deployable.


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Miltech 404 and 410

In addition to guns, ammunition, ruck sacs and more, the modern US soldier must now carry electronics– from night vision to radios, and now programs such as Nett Warrior add smartphones, tablets, and GPS to this load. And just like the bullets for a soldier’s gun, a soldier’s electronics need ammo in the form of batteries–and they all need to be able to communicate with themselves to share intelligence both on the field and with central command.

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The Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) specification was developed as a standard for US Army vehicles to combat a history of the “bolt-on” approach when adding new communications systems and electronics—systems that were often siloed and had no interoperability between them. This earlier approach often led to duplicate hardware, little future-proofing and  a lack of required economies for size, weight, power and costs (SWAP-C).

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Ethernet is the well-established standard in government, enterprise, and home applications. It is rapidly becoming the standard for military and other rugged applications due to proven interoperability, reliability, and speed. Historically, dedicated bus architectures have been used in military applications, resulting in heavy and somewhat inflexible systems.

Ethernet has been shown as a viable alternative for a number of reasons:

  • • Ethernet and IP technologies are ubiquitous
  • • Ethernet devices are inherently interoperable, encouraging modularity
  • • Rugged commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components are readily available
  • • Ethernet continues to receive large technology investments
  • • Ethernet operates over world-spanning distances using established infrastructures
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MilSource will be returning for a 5th year to AUVSI XPONENTIAL taking place in Chicago from April 30th to May 2, 2019.  We’re looking forward to meeting familiar faces and making new acquaintances at our booth #3210.

As a returning exhibitor, it’s fun to watch the continual growth in unmanned applications. The first event we attended, the show floor was full of military applications. As the FAA regulations and technology continue to evolve, we see so many more consumer and law enforcement/rescue applications.

As the payloads continue to evolve to meet application requirements, so does the need for communication between IP-based payload elements: LiDar, video, sensors and more. With the smallest SWAP in the industry, Techaya continues to be a vendor of choice for network switches, routers and USB hubs

As always, AUVSI allows for FREE pre-event registration for those interested in attending the exhibitor hall. Register by April 26th using this LINK. Other passes are available on the XPONENTIAL web site if you wish to attend classes and sessions.

See you in The Windy City!

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Ethernet Backbone

In all mobile military and airborne platforms, the transition from mechanical systems to electronically controlled systems is taking place. As the electronics content continues to grow, so do the processing loads that happen on every platform. Embedded computers are rising in sophistication as they need to support sensors, radar, video streams, and remote-control functions. Distributed processing, the interconnection of devices, and communication between devices has led to an exponential jump in bandwidth requirements on the interconnects between these devices. Traditional protocols like IEEE 1394 and USB still have legacy applications on these platforms, but most new platforms and platform retrofits are turning to Ethernet as their de facto communications protocol, supporting 1 Gbps in most platforms and growing to 10 Gbps in certain payloads.

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In my last blog, I took a look at the history of Ethernet. It was fun to look back at history, however it is more important to look at the future. With Ethernet becoming the ubiquitous connectivity standard for service providers, enterprises, and military applications, we are letting go of proprietary networking technologies and heading directly in to industry standard networking based on Ethernet.

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So, to get a little retro on everybody, I thought I’d take a step back in time and have a fun look at the history of Ethernet. A couple of months ago, Ethernet actually celebrated its 44th anniversary. That’s right. Ethernet was developed back in 1973 and today, 44 years later, it is becoming THE ubiquitous local area networking (LAN) technology in addition to wide area networking (WAN) and now even infiltrating storage area networking (SAN).

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We’re often approached by companies who have designed a prototype system composed of networks sensors, cameras, GPS systems, and other elements with compute platforms over Ethernet. These prototypes often use commercial-grade Ethernet switches. Sometimes they use the enclosure, sometimes they pull the components out of the enclosure and try to jerry-rig the switch components in some sort of fashion. What they soon find out, however, is that these commercial-grade switches (and other commercial-grade componentry) do not stand up the rigorous environmental factors that mobile military and aerospace applications almost always run in to.

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