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NXP’s open source OpenIL Linux distro has Xenomai and OpenTSN support

Nov 28, 2017 — by Eric Brown 3,221 views

NXP unveiled an “Open Industrial Linux” (OpenIL) distribution with real-time Xenomai extensions, crypto security, and support for OpenTSN networking.

NXP announced a Buildroot-based, Xenomai-hardened “Open Industrial Linux” (OpenIL) distribution designed for industrial, networking, and secure connectivity applications that require real-time, determinist performance. OpenIL is billed as being open source, community backed, and hardware agnostic.

One of OpenIL’s key differentiating features is support for OpenTSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) support, which is also supported on NXP’s networking-oriented, dual ARMv8 core QorIQ Layerscape LS1028A system-on-chip. OpenIL is currently optimized for use with a new LS1021A TSN Switch Board that acts as an evaluation board for the LS1028A and NXP’s earlier LS1021A SoC (see farther below).

OpenIL architecture
(click image to enlarge)

OpenIL “simplifies and automates the process of building a complete Linux system for an embedded system, using cross-compilation,” says NXP. The open source, user-customizable OpenIL is pruned down to include only the “necessary Linux packages and industry packages in order to make the system more lightweight,” says the chipmaker.


OpenIL is currently tested for building embedded Linux distros within Ubuntu 16.10 and 16.04, as well as CentOS Linux 7 (Core) and 6.7 (Final). The system is available with an optional instantiation of the Ubuntu user-space filesystem layout.

The OpenTSN technology provides real-time, reliable networking, and enables legacy IT equipment and operations technology (OT) equipment to reside on the same network. The technology is said to provide Gigabit Ethernet bandwidth while simplifying network deployment and management.

In addition to supporting TSN, OpenIL enables per-stream policing, time-aware shaping of network traffic, IEEE 1588, and 801.1AS time synchronization. OpenIL’s baseline capabilities include networking stacks, scripting tools, U-Boot, and other typical Linux system utilities. OpenIL also integrates web servers that are said to be useful for configuration management.

Other OpenIL features include:

  • Xenomai real-time extensions to Unix, easing porting from a real-time operating system (RTOS) like VxWorks or pSOS
  • Extensible Markup Language (XML) and NETCONF-based network configuration utilities for TSN
  • Generalized precision time protocol (gPTP) with the linuxptp (IEEE 1588 ) daemon
  • Drivers for the Ethernet interfaces and the NXP SJA1105T TSN switch
  • Support for edge computing services

NXP LS1028A and the LS1021A TSN Switch Board

The QorIQ Layerscape LS1028A SoC cited by NXP in the OpenIL announcement has dual 64-bit ARMv8 cores along with GPU and LCD controllers. The device includes cryptography and integrated trust architecture, and integrates a four-port TSN switch and two separate TSN Ethernet controllers.

LS1028A block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

When the LS1028A SoC was announced in March, NXP mentioned an NXP TSN Reference Design, but had no details. Both the LS1028A product page and the OpenIL manual instead point to the LS1021A TSN Switch Board as a reference platform. The board is based on the LS1021A, a dual Cortex-A7 SoC that also appeared in NXP’s TechNexion-built LS1021A-IoT Gateway Reference Design board.

LS1021A TSN Switch Board
(click image to enlarge)

In Oct. 2016, we reported on NXP’s ArgonBoards built LS1021A TSN Switch Board, along with a somewhat similar LS1021A Community Board. Like the Community Board, the $799 TSN Switch Board features a QorIQ LS1021A with 1GB of greater DDR3 RAM.

In addition to two standard SGMII GbE switches, the board provides NXP’s SJA1105T TSN switch with 4x RGMII ports for AVB (audio video bridging) and TSN applications. Otherwise, the feature set is almost identical to the Community Board except that you get a second USB 3.0 port.

LS1021A Time Sensitive Network Switch Board detail view (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Other features on both boards include a microSD slot, SATA interface, a mini-PCIe slot, an HDMI port, and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is both an Arduino shield connector and a standard expansion connector with SPI, USB, UART, CAN, audio, I2C, and GPIO. The board is further equipped with multiple sensors, as well as various switches, resets, and LEDs, and a JTAG connector.

Further information

Open Industrial Linux (OpenIL) is available now for free download. More information may be found at the community site, the OpenIL user guide (PDF), and the OpenIL GitHub page. NXP will be demonstrating OpenIL through Nov. 20 at the sps ipc drives conference in Nuremberg, Germany, Booth 10.1 – 325.

More information on the LS1021A Time Sensitive Network Switch Board may be found here.

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