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IED Network Requirements When Using Dante

If a system will use Dante as the transport protocol, one should follow the recommendations of the Dante technology provider, Audinate (www.audinate.com).  As of this writing (Sept 2017), the following FAQ (Frequency Asked Questions) related to network switches was provided on the website:

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Does Dante require special switches?

No. We strongly recommend that Gigabit switches be used due to the clear advantages in performance and scalability. Read other Networks and Switches FAQs for suggestions and requirements.

What is the minimum requirement for switches in a Dante network?

All Ethernet switches are capable of working with Dante. However, please be aware that there are some features on some kinds of switches that will allow you to build larger and more reliable Dante networks.

While Gigabit switches are recommended, 100Mbps switches may be used in limited scenarios.

  • For channel counts of 32 or more, Gigabit switches are essential.  QoS is required when using Dante in networks that have 100Mbps devices.  QoS is also recommended for Gigabit switches on networks that share data with services other than Dante.
  • For lower channel count (<32) applications, a 100Mbps switch may be used as long as it supports proper QoS, and QoS is active. The use of 100Mbps switches without QoS is not recommended or supported.

What features are important when purchasing a switch?

Dante makes use of standard Voice over IP (VoIP) Quality of Service (QoS) switch features, to prioritize clock sync and audio traffic over other network traffic. VoIP QoS features are available in a variety of inexpensive and enterprise Ethernet switches. Any switches with the following features should be appropriate for use with Dante:

  • Gigabit ports for inter-switch connections
  • Quality of Service (QoS) with 4 queues
  • Diffserv (DSCP) QoS, with strict priority
  • A managed switch is also recommended, to provide detailed information about the operation of each network link: port speed, error counters, bandwidth used, etc.

Can I use switches with EEE (Energy Efficient Ethernet or 'Green Ethernet') in my Dante network?

Short answer: no.

EEE (Energy Efficient Ethernet) is a technology that reduces switch power consumption during periods of low network traffic. It is also sometimes known as Green Ethernet andIEEE802.3az.
Although power management should be negotiated automatically in switches that support EEE, it is a relatively new technology, and some switches do not perform the negotiation properly. This may cause EEE to be enabled in Dante networks when it is not appropriate, resulting in poor synchronisation performance and occasional dropouts.
Download list of incompatible, unmanaged switches with Energy Efficient Ethernet

Therefore we strongly recommend that:

  1. If you use managed switches, ensure that they allow EEE to be disabled. Make sure that EEE is disabled on all ports used for real-time Dante traffic.
  2. If you use unmanaged switches, do not use Ethernet switches that support the EEE function, because you cannot disable EEE operation in these switches.
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