October 2015 - Contemporary Controls has recently made a significant investment in our commitment to ensure the quality and excellence of our CTRLink family of managed and unmanaged switches through the purchase of a Spirent TestCenter, an industry-recognized end-to-end testing system. Usually, Ethernet networks are easy to use and quite reliable. But what happens when Ethernet infrastructure products are pushed to their limits from heavy data usage and extended environmental conditions? How does an Ethernet switch manufacturer prove that data throughput under these conditions continues to meet the product's specifications? A recognized evaluation platform is needed.
By using the Spirent TestCenter's RFC 2544 benchmarking tool, our engineers are able to measure the impact of various quality-of-service schemes (QoS/DiffServ), throughput performance in mixed IPv4 and IPv6 configurations, as well as test the performance of different IMIX distributions on our managed and unmanaged switches. IMIX, or Internet Mix, refers to a type of test which engineers can use to measure the performance of typical Internet traffic passing through network equipment. The results of the test are assumed to resemble the performance can be expected in real world conditions. Engineers are able to control a variety of parameters including when the tests begin with options such as stagger start, traffic start delay and delay after transmission. Some of these tests can take over a week to run.
"By adhering to the RFC 2544 suite of tests, Contemporary Controls is able to put our products through a rigorous third-party validation system," said Operations Manager, George Karones. "Through the purchase of this system we made a significant commitment to validating that our products will work correctly even under extreme conditions when taken into the field."
For those unfamiliar with RFC (Request for Comment) 2544, the benchmarking method provides performance statistics for Ethernet switches by running four primary tests that analyze important elements like jitter, frame loss and throughput. In order to ensure that switches can handle various stresses like VoIP and video streaming, RFC 2544 supports testing for seven different frame sizes (64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 1280 and 1518 bytes).
The TestCenter is able to examine both single-mode and multi-mode fiber as well as support testing of both 100 megabit and gigabit fiber. This provides Contemporary Controls with the ability to prove through third party validation that our switches can handle operating at max speeds without dropping any packets of information.
The Spirent TestCenter can do more than just RFC 2544 testing. The TestCenter can also validate a variety of protocols such as Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) which manages a wide variety of interconnects on Ethernet networks to ensure data path redundancy while avoiding loops that could crash the system.
Another protocol test which is possible using the Spirent Test Center is called IEEE 1588. This Precision Time Protocol (PTP) is important for precision cascaded drives, streaming audio and video, which is difficult to simulate without a high-end tester such as the Spirent Test Center.
At a customer's request, Contemporary Controls can provide reports of how specific products performed when put through the grueling tests of the RFC 2544. Customer reports include information such as throughput, latency and frame loss.
Contemporary Controls remains committed to ensuring our Industrial Ethernet products continue to be dependable and efficient in the field. Visit our CTRLink Product Page to learn more about our Ethernet for Automation product line.