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Historically, Ethernet has been perceived as an unsuitable medium for real-time data distribution. The fear was that the fundamental access algorithm, CSMA/CD, and the popular transport protocol, TCP/IP, could not provide sufficiently consistent latency for deterministic applications. This paper takes an analytical look at the possibility of using IP and Ethernet for high-performance real-time network applications. We will examine the performance of Ethernet network hardware for real-time designs by studying the statistics of the non-deterministic collision-arbitration algorithm and present a formula that you can use to evaluate its effect on your design.Finally, we will look at the software layers and propose a communications model that enables deterministic distributed application operation.
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