Figures produced by Yano Research indicate that the number of automotive communication nodes deployed annually will have gone through an almost tenfold rise from the start to the end of this decade. The advent of the ‘connected car’, which has been widely publicised, means that greater communication capabilities now need to be incorporated into automobile designs. As more advanced navigation and telematics systems are developed by automobile manufacturers, plus an increasing breadth of entertainment capabilities are expected by vehicle occupants, the related in-vehicle network infrastructure will need to cope with higher bandwidths.
The already established CAN protocol will remain responsible for powertrain/safety functions and likewise the LIN protocol will continue to take care of communication that is needed for comfort features (air conditioning, seat adjustment, ambient lighting, etc.). To complement these, it seems certain that the vehicle’s infotainment elements will rely increasingly on the implementation of Ethernet technology. Ethernet has several key attributes that make it highly suited to this task. Widely-used in industrial and enterprise communication sectors, it is a proven technology with the capacity to support higher data rates (100Mbit/s for standard Ethernet going up to 1Gbit/s where needed). Furthermore, it is highly cost effective and very simple in form, whereas other networking options can, in contrast, be both expensive and difficult to install.
One of the issues that need to be addressed when employing Ethernet within automotive scenarios is how to deal with data collisions between devices that are located on the same bus. Conventional mechanisms are not appropriate in time-critical applications, so an alternative needs to be used instead. Audio visual bridging (AVB) technology will allow up to 1Gbit/s multimedia data transfer where stability and reliability are both fully assured. As AVB keeps aside some of the available Ethernet bandwidth solely for AVB-related packets, the risk of collisions occurring is completely avoided.
To assist design engineers in implementing Ethernet networks into new car models, there is now an expansive array of dedicated system-on-chip (SoC) devices created specifically for Ethernet AVB purposes. To find out more about the role of Ethernet technology in automotive communications and the advanced IC technology that will support it, click here.