The AVB/TSN Train Has Finally Left the Station, But Where Is it Headed?

A look at where Audio Video Bridging/Time-Sensitive Networking is right now and where it’s going in the future.

Josh Srago

There was a bustling array of technologists wandering the halls and going from station to station for demos in San Jose, CA during the two-day Time Sensitive Networks (TSN) and Applications conference.

Day one began with a keynote address from Jim Grubb of Cisco. Grubb spoke on the incredible expansion of network connected devices that we’re seeing today and where it will go in the future as we begin to put sensors in everything – all the way down to the water glass on the table.

Those connected devices, though, require a network capable of supporting the real-time data transfer allowing people to take action. Greg Schlechter then took the stage to talk of where AVB and TSN are right now.

Schlechter began by using the analogy of the origins of the railroad – a transportation network that crisscrosses the country and allows for items to be stored in a container that was made specifically for that purpose. That correlation became the theme when considering everything else that followed.

AVB/TSN chugs down the track – slow and steady.

If you’ve ever brought up the subject of AVB/TSN in the professional AV world, then you know that there’s an overwhelming cynicism surrounding its wide-spread adoption.

Much of this stems from the fact that when it was introduced there was a great deal of excitement surrounding packetized audio, video, and control signals but it always seems to be just around the next bend in the track.

While the IEEE 802.1x (there are several 802.1 codes that are a part of the TSN standard) developments keep steadily moving along, the manufacturer adoption is still not where it needs to be for AVB/TSN to expand its market share.

Your delayed train is arriving on the express track.

Arguably, the part of AVB/TSN that has been the most limiting is the network switch requirements. While Cisco is a member of the AVnu Alliance, they had yet to offer a switch that openly advertised it was AVB/TSN capable.

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That is, until the second day of the show. With Cisco offering an AVB capable switch, the IT side of the world now has a manufacturer they are familiar with and trust for the backbone and we will likely see more companies looking to invest in the development of new hardware to take advantage of the features that AVB/TSN offers. This change could be the coal to stoke the fire that leads to runaway participation.

If your data leaves San Francisco with only 1 uSec of delay…

One of the key elements that gets lost in AVB/TSN debates in the audiovisual industry is the fact that this standard was established to solve a problem with information traveling on a network that had timing requirements. The 802.1 code covering this is something that is a part of AVB/TSN, but as it is an open standard it could be implemented in any packetized network transport method.

The timing mechanism is about more than just synchronizing information, it also adds a layer of security to the data. If you know exactly when that piece of information was sent and when it was supposed to arrive based on the packet information, then you can easily see if someone else has accessed the network and intercepted or altered it.

Jumping off the rails and into a Hyperloop.

In the long run, having technology based on an open source standard can allow for uses never imagined at inception. The standard can evolve to include new methods and technology. Since AVB/TSN is a set of standards for transporting the information, even proprietary chipset manufacturers can adopt it and incorporate it into their future products.

Open source also means that it’s not just about the AV industry. Any industry can incorporate this transportation of data which will only make the evolution of the internet of things even more wide spread because the data will all be using a common backbone.