Thread Network

21 May

Thread is not a new standard, but rather a combination of existing, open source standards such as IEEE and IETF that define a uniform, interoperable wireless network stack enabling communication between devices of different manufacturers. Thread uses IPv6 protocol as well the energy efficient wireless IEEE 802.15.4 PHY/MAC standard.

Use of the IPv6 standard allows components in a Thread network to be easily connected to existing IT infrastructure. The Thread network layer combines physical as well as transport layers. UDP serves as the transport layer, on which various application layers such as COAP or MQTT-SN can be used. UPD also supports proprietary layers such as Nest Weave. Layers that are used for most applications, and that service network infrastructure, are defined uniformly via Thread. Application layers are implemented depending on end user requirements.

Two security mechanisms are used within Thread network layers: MAC layer encryption and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS). MAC Layer encryption encodes call content above the PHY/MAC layers. DTLS is implemented in conjunction with the UDP protocol and encrypts application data, but not packet data from the lower layers (IPv6). Thread also enables mesh network topologies. Routing algorithms ensure that messages within a network reach the target node using the IPv6 addressing. When a single nodes fail, Thread changes the network topology in order to preserve network integrity. Thread also supports in parallel multiple Ethernet or wireless networks established via Border Routers. This ensures reliability through network redundancy. Thread is ideal for home automation due to its mesh network topology and support of inexpensive nodes.

The following image shows a possible setup of such topology. Rectangular boxes represent Border Routers such as phyGATE-AM335 (alternately phyGATE-i.MX7, phyGATE-K64) or the phySTICK. The two Border Routers in the image establish the connection to the IT infrastructure via Ethernet or WiFi. The pentagon icons represent nodes, such as phyWAVEs and phyNODEs, that are addressable and can relay messages within the Thread mesh network. Nodes depicted by circles, which can be phyWAVEs and phyNODEs, are nodes that can be configured for low power and to operate for an extensive time using a single battery.

Source: http://www.phytec.eu/products/internet-of-things/

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