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Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) for More Powerful Sensor Clusters

Date: Sep 28, 2022

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As industrial scenarios place more and more emphasis on monitoring and controlling devices, sensors need to provide predictable condition monitoring of devices. Condition-based monitoring (CbM) is a type of predictive maintenance that uses different sensors to monitor a device's condition.

Standard Ethernet is used for connectivity in most industrial scenarios for sensor condition monitoring applications. However, with the introduction and popularity of Single Pair Ethernet SPE, it seems to enable better sensor condition monitoring in industrial scenarios.

Single-Pair Ethernet and Condition Monitoring

Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE) is an Ethernet technology capable of bi-directional communication and a connection speed of 1Gb/s over a suitable distance. This new transmission standard, specified by IEEE 802.3, replaces other bus systems and unifies control, communication, and various other functions in one system.

The most immediate reason for the introduction of single-pair Ethernet in industrial scenarios was to meet the need for efficient bi-directional communication, with 1Gb/s connection speeds enabling bi-directional communication for secure real-time connectivity from device to infrastructure and device to cloud. The same is true for sensor condition monitoring needs. The high-bandwidth data architecture of single-pair Ethernet is a great enhancement for enhanced sensing data analysis and faster response to error links.


For sensor condition monitoring, the advantages of single-pair Ethernet go beyond the high-bandwidth data architecture benefits. Single-pair Ethernet provides a shared power and data architecture that enables 10 Mbps data and power-sharing over low-cost two-wire cables even at distances greater than 1000 meters. With a single-pair Ethernet-based condition monitoring sensor design, the shared data and power communication interface can be even smaller, with only two of the original four cables needed to complete the power over data (PoDL) in a single-pair Ethernet.

Whether it is reducing the size of the sensor or the complexity of field wiring, condition monitoring over a single pair of Ethernets can reduce the workload of many terminals compared to the previous standard Ethernet.

Sensor Considerations in Single-Pair Ethernet Condition Monitoring

Several major types of information need to be measured by sensors for condition monitoring; vibration, boost, current, magnetic field, and temperature. While MEMS accelerometers have been reduced in size, a single-pair Ethernet system architecture can further reduce the sensor size and allow the system to use multiple other types of sensors.

Further reduction in size means that the sensor itself needs to be more integrated. In the case of vibration sensors, higher integration requires the sensor to integrate amplifiers, ADCs, etc. Piezoelectric vibration sensing is somewhat less suitable for such systems that require highly integrated devices. In some critical traditional condition monitoring applications, the higher-cost piezoelectric type provides better performance. Still, in condition monitoring in single-pair Ethernet systems, the lack of integration characteristics makes it somewhat awkward to use in such sensor device clusters, and the size is also large.

In most cases, the first consideration for a condition monitoring platform in a single-pair Ethernet system is the more integrated MEMS sensing.


Most MEMS accelerometers are three-axis and have integrated ADCs, making them ideal for monitoring systems under single-pair Ethernet systems. However, some single-axis MEMS do not have ADCs, but have higher performance in terms of bandwidth and can be seamlessly integrated with the monitoring system, which requires an external ADC to ensure performance. Such cases where the sensor does not have an integrated ADC require an MCU to ensure resolution while maintaining low power consumption.

Power consumption considerations need not be said, MEMS sensing to control power consumption in the µA or even nA range is available, in short, to extend battery life as long as possible.

Sound pressure, current, and temperature monitoring of these users are also familiar with those sensors, microphones, Hall, magnetometer, RTD, thermocouple, infrared thermography, etc.. These sensors are now low-cost, low-power, small, and accurate. According to the different needs of the risk of failure, monitoring can be selected, such as the microphone frequency limit selection, temperature sensing, whether to track changes in the location of the heat source, and so on.

Final words

Single pair Ethernet provides a new solution for condition monitoring with a new architecture that reduces Ethernet to the sensor actuator level and connects the sensor actuator directly to the automation system or cloud, further reducing sensor size, field deployment, and wiring complexity.

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