What is a GSD File?

A PROFINET General Station Description (GSD) file is a description of an IO device provided by the device manufacturer. The contents of the GSD consists of configuration information, parameters, modules, diagnostic and alarms, and vendor and device identification. To discuss the latter two in a little more detail, the vendor identification (vendor ID) is a number which is provided by PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International) which is unique to each vendor. And the device identification (device ID) is set by the manufacturer of the device and is unique for each device family.

Why do we need a GSD for the device?

The GSD file is a standardized way of describing the device information to the engineering tool and the IO controller (PLC/PAC/DCS) and can work across a variety of engineering tools as a standard set of device information. A GSD file will be imported into the PROFINET configuration tool of the controller. Once the GSD file has been imported you can set up the PROFINET IO device and will be able to configure, parameterize, and choose diagnostic options in the tool. Remember to get the latest GSD from your device manufacturer and contact them if you have any questions.

What is this GSD(ML) name all about?

PROFIBUS GSD files originally used ASCII text files and language based extensions (.gsd – German, .gse – English), PROFINET on the other hand, uses XML data description language which supports a data structure and multiple languages. Therefore, the PROFINET GSD file is named “GSDML” because the file is described in XML format, and the file extension will be “.xml”. The XML structure allows the file to be checked against a standard PROFINET schema file to determine that its content and structure are valid. And this helps when importing into the engineering tool to ensure the file is imported correctly. Also contained in the file name is the version of the GSD specification that the file adheres to (Ex: V2.3), the vendor name, device family, and date. The version and date can be used to determine if you have the latest file from the vendor. There are optional fields too that you will sometimes see in the file name like vendor ID, device ID, time, and others. Finally, PROFINET GSD files allow multiple languages to be stored in one file rather than having multiple ones, so there aren’t as many files to manage.

What is this bitmap file included with my GSD?

The graphics file is included with the GSD to graphically represent the device during configuration. It will be imported at the same time when you pick the GSD from your import option in the tool. The bitmap file should retain its standard name and you should not change it, otherwise it may not import correctly.

There’s a problem with my GSD and tool?

If there is a problem importing the GSD file, determine that you have the correct file for the device in question and the latest version of the file.  Make sure you are setting up the device properly. Ask the manufacturer if the device has been certified by a PI test lab. Make sure that the GSD file name has not been changed as well as the bitmap file.  If there are still issues, then the first line of defense is to discuss with the device manufacturer and determine the file is their latest version and that your setup is correct. The second line of defense is that PI offers a Checker Tool for PROFINET to members of PI so that it could be checked. If there are any problems these should be reported to the manufacturer / vendor so they can fix the issue.