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Network Topology and Redundancy

Historically, substation automation has employed multiple different protocols, often proprietary, which lacked interoperation across different vendors devices. This has led to the creation of a new international specification, IEC 61850, defining a common platform for substation automation networking based on Ethernet technology. IEC 61850 defines a distributed ring topology supporting zero switchover time in case of single failure, known as High-availability Seamless Redundancy (HSR).

High-availability Seamless Redundancy (HSR)-supporting nodes are attached to the network by two Ethernet ports. Each node duplicates each egress packet and forwards to both ports. The destination node will receive (fault-free state) two identical frames. To avoid additional burden on the CPU processing, the first frame is forwarded to the application layer and the second frame discarded. To provide the necessary seamless switchover performance, duplicated packet processing must be implemented at the hardware layer.

Our EtherREL technology provides a hardware-assisted implementation for common industrial redundancy protocols, such as HSR. Network reliability is boosted with LinkMD® + diagnostics, in addition to traditional fault monitoring, providing an embedded Signal Quality Indicator (SQI) for determining dynamic link error margin. Quiet-WIRE® enhanced EMI technology delivers industrial-strength physical layer reliability in the harshest environments, even when operating over low-cost unshielded cabling.

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Deterministic Time Synchronization


Traditionally, timing information for substation automation was distributed via a dedicated network, separate from main application. IEC61850 specification defines a single converged data and distributed timing network based on standard Ethernet communications supporting IEEE 1588v2 Precision Time Protocol (PTP). IEEE 1588v2 PTP offers a method for distributed synchronization with sub-microsecond performance over an existing Ethernet communication network.

Microchip’s innovative EtherSynch® deterministic switching platform combines Ethernet communications, advanced Quality of Service (QoS), IEEE 1588v2 and IEEE 802.1AS distributed synchronization, and precision GPIO in a highly integrated, energy-efficient solution.

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