Distributed Real-time Systems with Ethernet

Distributed real-time systems require predictable networks to exchange application data within bounded delays. Switched Ethernet is an attractive networking technology for distributed real-time systems. However, Ethernet devices require special coordination mechanisms to support real-time traffic because of their inherent competitive approach. Embedding coordination units in the network interfaces is a common approach to prevent competition. While hardware scheduling units can operate at line rate with predictable delays at the end-stations, frame processing tasks and buffer management in standard switches introduce high latency and jitter in the path, preventing accurate synchronization between distributed stations.

This project is about:

  • Enabling real-time capabilities on top of standard Ethernet
  • Deriving efficient application-specific schedules for distributed real-time applications
  • Investigating flexibility in the context of safety-critical applications

By intersecting research on formal models and abstractions for dynamic-TDMA arbitration and technological insights of modern reconfigurable architectures, we have developed a comprehensive open-source framework that tackles multiple open challenges in heterogeneous distributed systems, including provision of ultra-low latency and jitter, dynamic bandwidth management, and segmentation of real-time domains within large networks.

The complete framework, including source code for hardware components and software tools, and a detailed description of illustrative examples of the achieved properties in multi-hop Ethernet setting are available on the demonstrator page.


Looking for motivated students (undergrads and grads) interested in working on embedded software and systems research. Mail Sebastian Fischmeister for further information.