Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Ethernet Comes with a Brand New Easy Solution: Single Pair Ethernet (SPE)

Ethernet is well known globally as solution for communication. Ethernet was hated and liked for the last 40 years or so ... there have been alternative solutions developed that were marketed as much easier, faster, deterministic, ... think of Tokenbus (IEEE 804), Profibus, ... and many others.

Now we see a new version: Single Pair Ethernet (SPE). SPE can bring fast Ethernet (up to 1 GBit/s) and power to the field level using just one twisted wire pair ... enabling application of protocols using TCP/IP.

Click HERE for a general description.

Click HERE for a nice presentation by IEEE experts (January 2019)

SPE is a new technology to replace CANbus in automobiles (cars, trucks, busses, ... trains) and fieldbusses. SPE is a layer 1 standard ... so it can be used for Profinet, Ethercat, ... and it could run TCP/IP.

SPE is more intended to replace fieldbus systems ... here my dream of the late 80s becomes true:

Fieldbus Standardization - Another Way to Go


additional posts related to the topic:


The use of SPE for connecting sensors to the cloud is to follow a trend ... it may increase the sales of component manufacturers.

When I wrote my Diploma Thesis in 1982 (at Siemens) I was asked to analyze Ethernet ... the idea was cancelled because of the very very expensive MAU ... needed two ... each for 23,000 USD ... total of 46,000 USD ... no way to get approval to spend that amount for a "standard" Diploma Thesis ... 

It took some 40 years to get to SPE - likely the real Ethernet ... ;-)

Too late for me ... just retired this year with 67 ... 

One crucial challenge is here: HOW to SECURE a huge number of end nodes (sensors, actuators ...) directly connected to the clouds or data lakes? Compare the situation with Smart(er) Grids: In Smart(er) Grids it is intended to connect millions of smart meters to the entities (clouds!?) that use the data for billing and further applications like controlling millions of inverters or power users. 

In the German power system there is a requirement to use the so-called Smart Meter Gateway (SMG) to provide highly secure communication channels

Click HERE to check what has to be implemented ... many published Megabyte pdf documentation of the required specification like: "Protection Profile for the Gateway of a Smart Metering System (Smart-Meter-Gateway PP)" ... by the German BSI.

It took many years before we have seen the first certified Smart Meter Gateway offered at the market. And be aware: The Administration of this infrastructure is very complex and ... far away from cheap and affordable by "everyone".

Many similar huge "security systems" would be required to connect the billions of smart sensors and actuators through Single Pair Ethernet to some centralized entities ... 

SPE is nice - BUT to build secure distributed systems it is required to develop also new security solutions that are as simple as Single Pair Ethernet!!

We have to look at the complete SYSTEM COST - not just at the possibilities of a new physical layers ... the SPE increases the problems of implementing secure systems, because it is easier and cheap to build a huge mashed network of millions of end nodes ... that may not perfectly secured!

No comments: