Companies Collaborating to Create an Open Source Stack for OPC UA over TSN for Amazon’s FreeRTOS

By Harry Forbes

Acquisition or Partnership

Analog Devices, Arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS), B&R Industrial Automation, Lattice Semiconductor, Schneider Electric and Texas Instruments have entered a collaboration to create an open source stack for OPC UA over TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) for Amazon’s FreeRTOS. The goal is to simplify and accelerate the development of efficient, smart, and secure industrial field devices compliant with OPC UA over TSNOPC UA FX (Field eXchange) and with that enable a broad ecosystem adoption across the manufacturing industry.

This new initiative focuses on enabling OPC UA and Ethernet TSN for compute and memory constrained devices, such as microcontrollers and low power FPGA based SoC (System on Chip) devices.

The OPC Foundation drives the standardization of information models for field devices based on OPC UA, support for Ethernet TSN for IT/OT network convergence based on one vendor-independent communication standard, standardization of application profiles (e.g., IO, motion control, safety, etc.) and cyber security in industrial automation.

Traditionally, OPC UA was only supported on CPU-based controller devices, such as PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller), Industrial PCs, HMI devices, or SCADA systems. Today, these controllers are capable of providing higher level services based on the necessary low-level data for machine representation and sensor/actuator information. However, they typically share only a fraction of the raw data available from sensors and actuators because it is aggregated, filtered, or omitted.

Harry Forbes, ARC Advisory Group, commented “There is a crying need for high-quality open source implementations of OPC UA. The key points to keep in mind are 1) a successful open source project requires commitment from a broad spectrum of developers, not just a single firm.  2) There is never a “1 size fits all” open source solution.  This collaboration is targeting resource-constrained devices. Related open source projects like Open62541 are more applicable to industrial PCs and servers. I would encourage all automation suppliers to contribute to both of these projects and to work collaboratively to upstream the features they need. That will enhance the value and the interoperability of their future products, while leveraging the work of others.”

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