Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN)

IEEE Standard Ethernet for Guaranteed Real-Time Communication

Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) is a set of IEEE 802 Ethernet sub-standards that are defined by the IEEE TSN task group. These standards enable deterministic real-time communication over Ethernet. TSN achieves determinism over Ethernet by using time synchronization and a schedule which is shared between network components. By defining queues based on time, Time-Sensitive Networking ensures a bounded maximum latency for scheduled traffic through switched networks. This means that in a TSN network, latency of critical scheduled communication is guaranteed. TTTech calls this “Guarantee of Service”.

In control applications with strict deterministic requirements, such as those found in automotive and industrial domains, Time-Sensitive Networking offers a way to send time-critical traffic over a standard Ethernet infrastructure. This enables the convergence of all traffic classes and multiple applications in one network. In practice this means that the functionality of standard Ethernet is extended so that:

  • Message latency is guaranteed through switched networks
  • Critical and non-critical traffic can be converged in one network
  • Higher layer protocols can share the network infrastructure
  • Real-time control can be extended away from the operations area
  • Sub-systems can be integrated more easily
  • Components can be added without network or equipment alterations
  • Network faults can be diagnosed and repaired faster


The communication platform OPC UA (Open Platform Communication Unified Architecture), which enables data exchange from sensor to cloud, has been chosen as the reference standard for Industry 4.0. The Publish/Subscribe enhancement for OPC UA now allows for multicast communication between thousands of sensors and the cloud, and also coordination between machines. OPC UA in combination with IEEE TSN enables open data exchange between industrial controllers from different vendors, making the vision of open, real-time machine to machine communication a reality for all applications, including those with critical safety requirements. 

Key Benefits

Standards-based: Part of IEEE 802 standards suite

Partitioned: Virtual separation of traffic classes, enables convergence of other protocols on one physical network

Compatible: Integrates existing industrial Ethernet protocols including Profinet and EtherNet/IP

Scalable: Scales from small to very large systems without compromising safety, security or performance

Secure: Existing security standards and management features can be implemented, partitioning prevents denial of service

TTTech offers Deterministic Ethernet switches and related products for deterministic networking and control.