Koubâa, A., Alves, M., Tovar, E. et al. Real-Time Syst (2008) 39: 169. doi:10.1007/s11241-007-9038-x
Timeliness guarantee is an important feature of the recently standardized IEEE 802.15.4 protocol, turning it quite appealing for Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) applications under timing constraints. When operating in beacon-enabled mode, this protocol allows nodes with real-time requirements to allocate Guaranteed Time Slots (GTS) in the contention-free period. The protocol natively supports explicit GTS allocation, i.e. a node allocates a number of time slots in each superframe for exclusive use. The limitation of this explicit GTS allocation is that GTS resources may quickly disappear, since a maximum of seven GTSs can be allocated in each superframe, preventing other nodes to benefit from guaranteed service. Moreover, the GTS may be underutilized, resulting in wasted bandwidth. To overcome these limitations, this paper proposes i-GAME, an implicit GTS Allocation Mechanism in beacon-enabled IEEE 802.15.4 networks. The allocation is based on implicit GTS allocation requests, taking into account the traffic specifications and the delay requirements of the flows. The i-GAME approach enables the use of one GTS by multiple nodes, still guaranteeing that all their (delay, bandwidth) requirements are satisfied. For that purpose, we propose an admission control algorithm that enables to decide whether to accept a new GTS allocation request or not, based not only on the remaining time slots, but also on the traffic specifications of the flows, their delay requirements and the available bandwidth resources. We show that our approach improves the bandwidth utilization as compared to the native explicit allocation mechanism defined in the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. We also present some practical considerations for the implementation of i-GAME, ensuring backward compatibility with the IEEE 801.5.4 standard with only minor add-ons. Finally, an experimental evaluation on a real system that validates our theoretical analysis and demonstrates the implementation of i-GAME is also presented.