Staying Connected: High Availability Embedded Networking

Staying Connected: High Availability Embedded Networking

Embedded systems are increasingly connected to local and wide-area networks to share data and leverage the capabilities of other computing systems. Much like work in an office can grind to a halt when “the network is down”, today’s embedded systems may be unable to complete their mission-critical functions if connectivity is lost.

Fortunately, many of the techniques and protocols used to provide high-availability networking in enterprise and telecom applications can also be applied to embedded computing networks.

Figure 1: High-availability LAN using PRP, redundant switches, and dual-connected hosts

For many embedded computing applications, reliability has always been critical. Experienced embedded systems designers are familiar with a variety of analytical techniques for identifying and calculating the probabilities of various failure modes. To address these potential failures, systems can be designed to detect and correct errors, or even incorporate backup systems to mitigate the effects.

Today, embedded systems are rarely isolated and self-contained – most systems connect to other systems and sensors to collect and share critical data. The reliability of “systems of systems” depends on the reliability of the network that connects them. Understanding network failure modes, and how to mitigate them, has become a key challenge in embedded system design.

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