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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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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Autometrix is an industrial cutting system out of Northern California. A little over a year ago, their electrical engineer, Tyler Green contacted MilSource. Tyler was looking for a basic, board-level Fast Ethernet switch that he could integrate in to his on-board electronic package. The MILTECH 309 fit the bill. Because of its small size, ruggedized componentry and conformal coating, it could fit right in to the size and industrial shock standards needed to deliver the fast and reliable products the company is known for.

To read more about how Autometrix is using MilSource, read the full story in Control Design Magazine.

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We’re headed to AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL next week with one of Techaya’s newest device the MILTECH303. The industry’s only rugged, MIL-STD, IP68 ultra-compact USB 3.1 USB hub. This cool little hub is designed not only to connect USB devices—handhelds, sensors, night vision goggles, keyboards— but also provide power management and charging of up to 5 devices at a time.

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Today, we announced the availability of the new Techaya MILTECH 9124 and MILTECH 9128 board-level, ultra-compact Ethernet switches. These conformally coated, Layer 2/Layer 3, 24- and 28-port 1 GbE and 10 GbE Ethernet switch/routers are designed specifically as embedded solutions for military, avionic and commercial communications platforms.

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Techaya just recently announced a major platform upgrade to their compact, ultra-compact and board level managed Ethernet switches. Through a major firmware upgrade, these managed Ethernet switches now have some key new features.

Why is this so important to existing and future customers of Techaya managed Ethernet switches? Well, this new platform upgrade (available free through a firmware update) adds Layer 3 static routing functionality to these compact, ultra-compact and board-level Layer 2 Ethernet switches. By adding static routing functionality, these switches can now perform IPv4 and IPv6 static routing between VLANs without having to add a router upstream. This reduces the amount of equipment, weight and cost on mobile military platforms.

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