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Archive for the ‘Automotive’ Category

April 29th, 2021

Back to the Future – Automotive network run at speed of 10Gbps

By Amir Bar-Niv, VP of Marketing, Automotive Business Unit, Marvell

In the classic 1980s “Back to the Future” movie trilogy, Doc Brown – inventor of the DeLorean time machine – declares that “your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” At Marvell, engineers are doing just that by accelerating automotive Ethernet capabilities: Earlier this week, Marvell announced the latest addition to its automotive products portfolio – the 88Q4346 802.3ch-based multi-gig automotive Ethernet PHY.

This technology addresses three emerging automotive trends requiring multi-gig Ethernet speeds, including:

  1. The increasing integration of high-resolution cameras and sensors
  2. Growing utilization of powerful 5G networks
  3. The rise of Zonal Architecture in car design

January 29th, 2021

Full Steam Ahead! Marvell Ethernet Device Bridge Receives Avnu Certification

By Amir Bar-Niv, VP of Marketing, Automotive Business Unit, Marvell

and John Bergen, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Automotive Business Unit, Marvell

In the early decades of American railroad construction, competing companies laid their tracks at different widths. Such inconsistent standards drove inefficiencies, preventing the easy exchange of rolling stock from one railroad to the next, and impeding the infrastructure from coalescing into a unified national network. Only in the 1860s, when a national standard emerged – 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches – did railroads begin delivering their true, networked potential.

Some one hundred-and-sixty years later, as Marvell and its competitors race to reinvent the world’s transportation networks, universal design standards are more important than ever. Recently, Marvell’s 88Q5050 Ethernet Device Bridge became the first of its type in the automotive industry to receive Avnu certification, meeting exacting new technical standards that facilitate the exchange of information between diverse in-car networks, which enable today’s data-dependent vehicles to operate smoothly, safely and reliably.

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October 7th, 2020

Ethernet Advanced Features for Automotive Applications

By Amir Bar-Niv, VP of Marketing, Automotive Business Unit, Marvell

Ethernet standards comprise a long list of features and solutions that have been developed over the years to resolve real network needs as well as resolve security threats. Now, developers of Ethernet In-Vehicle-Networks (IVN) can easily balance between functionality and cost by choosing the specific features they would like to have in their car’s network.

The roots of Ethernet technology began in 1973, when Bob Metcalfe, a researcher at Xerox Research Center (who later founded 3COM), wrote a memo entitled “Alto Ethernet,” which described how to connect computers over short-distance copper cable. With the explosion of PC-based Local Area Networks (LAN) in businesses and corporations in the 1980s, the growth of client/server LAN architectures continued, and Ethernet started to become the connectivity technology of choice for these networks. However, the Ethernet advancement that made it the most successful networking technology ever was when standardization efforts began for it under the IEEE 802.3 group.

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May 31st, 2018

Why is 802.11ax a “must have” for the connected car?

By Avinash Ghirnikar, Director of Technical Marketing of Connectivity Business Group, Marvell

Imagine motoring along through busy, urban traffic in your new connected car that is learning, getting smarter, safer and more reliable as it is driving. Such a car is constantly gathering and generating all kinds of data that is intermittently and opportunistically being uploaded to the cloud. As more cars on the road feature advanced wireless connectivity, this exciting future will become commonplace. However, each car will need to share the network with potentially hundreds of other cars that might be in its vicinity.

While such a use case could potentially rely on LTE/5G cellular technology, the costs associated with employing such a “licensed pipe” would be prohibitively expensive. In such situations, the new Wi-Fi® standard 802.11ax, also known as high efficiency wireless (HEW), will be a life saver for the automotive industry. The zettabytes of data that cars equipped with a slew of sensors will create in the years to come will all need to be uploaded to the cloud and data centers, enabling next-generation machine learning in order to make driving increasingly safe and predictable in the future. Uploading this data will, of course, need to be done both securely and reliably.

The car – as an 802.11ax station (STA) – will also be to able upload data to an 802.11ax access point (AP) in the most challenging of wireless environments while sharing the network with other clients. The 802.11ax system will be able to do this via technologies like MU-MIMO and OFDMA (allowing for spatial, frequency and time reuse) which are new innovations that are part of this emerging standard. Today, STAs compete rather than effectively share the network and have to deal with the dreaded “circle of death”’ awaiting connectivity. This is because today’s wireless standard can often be in an all-or-nothing binary mode of operation due to constant competition. When coupled with other upcoming standards like 802.11ai, specifically fast initial link setup (FILS), this vision of cars uploading data to the cloud over Wi-Fi becomes a true reality, even in environments where the car is moving and likely hopping from one AP to another.

While this “under the hood” upload use case is greatly enhanced by the 802.11ax standard from an infrastructure perspective, download of software and firmware into connected cars can also be transformed by this same standard. It is well known that the number of processors and electronic control units (ECUs) in car models is expected to increase dramatically. This, in turn, implies that the software/firmware content in these cars will likewise grow at exponential rates. Periodic firmware over-the-air (FOTA) updates will be required and, therefore, having a reliable and robust mechanism to support this will be vital for automobile manufacturers – potentially saving them millions of dollars in relation to servicing costs, etc.  Such is the pace of innovation and technological change these days that this can sometimes happen almost immediately after cars come off the assembly line.

Take the example of a parking lot outside an auto plant containing hundreds of brand new cars requiring some of their software to be updated.  Here, too, 802.11ax can come to the rescue by making a mass update more efficient and reliable. This advantage will then carry forward for the rest of the lifespan of each car, since it can never be predicted what sort of wireless connectivity environment these cars will encounter. These could be challenging environments like garages, driveways, and maybe even parking decks. The modulation enhancements that 802.11ax delivers, coupled with MU-MIMO and OFDMA features, will ensure that the most efficient and reliable Wi-Fi pipe is always available for such a critical function. Given that a car can easily be on the road for close to a decade, having this functionality built in from day one would be a tremendous advantage and could enable significant cost savings. Again, accompanying technologies like Wake on Bluetooth® Low Energy and Bluetooth Low Energy Long Range will also play a pivotal role in ensuring this use case is realized from an overall end-to-end system standpoint.

These two infrastructure type use cases are likely to be tremendous value-adds for the connected car and can justify the presence of 802.11ax, especially from an automobile manufacturers’ point of view. Even consumers are likely to see significant benefits in their vehicle dashboards where the mobile APs in their infotainment systems will be able to seamlessly connect to their latest smartphone handsets (which will themselves be 802.11ax capable within the 2019 timeframe). Use cases like Wireless Apple CarPlay®, Wireless Android Auto™ Projection, rear seat entertainment, wireless cameras, etc. will all be a breeze given the additional 30-40% throughput enhancement in 802.11ax (and the backward compatibility this standard has with previous Wi-Fi standards for such use cases to cooperatively coexist).  Just as in homes, the number of Wi-Fi endpoints in cars is also proliferating. The 802.11ax standard is the only well-designed path for an increasing number of endpoints and yet provides the best user experience.

The 802.11ax as Release 1 (aka Wave 1) is well on its way to a concrete launch by the Wi-Fi Alliance in the second half of 2019. Products are already being sampled by silicon vendors – both on the AP and STA/mobile AP side – and interoperability testing is well underway. For all wireless system designers at OEMs and their Tier 1 suppliers, the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard should be a goal, and especially for any product launch set for 2020 and beyond.  The time has come to begin future proofing for the impending arrival of 802.11ax infrastructure. The days of the wireless technology in your smartphone/home/enterprise and in your car belonging to different generations are long gone. Consumers demand that their cars now be an extension of their home/work environments and that all of these living spaces function as one. The 802.11ax is destined to be one of the key pillars of technology to make such a vision a reality.

Marvell has been a pioneer in designing Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo devices for the automotive market since the debut of such devices in cars in 2011. With actual development beginning almost a decade ago, Marvell’s automotive wireless portfolio has been honed to address key use cases over five generations of products, through working closely with OEMs, Tier 1s and Tier 2s. All the technologies needed to achieve the various use cases described above have been incorporated into Marvell’s fifth generation device. Coupled with Marvell’s offering for enterprise class, high-performance APs, Marvell remains committed to providing the automobile industry and car buyers with the best wireless connectivity experience — encompassing use cases inside and outside of the car today, and well into the future.

 

January 11th, 2018

Ethernet Set to Bring About Radical Shift in How Automotive Networks are Implemented

By Christopher Mash, Senior Director of Automotive Applications & Architecture, Marvell

The in-vehicle networks currently used in automobiles are based on a combination of several different data networking protocols, some of which have been in place for decades. There is the controller area network (CAN), which takes care of the powertrain and related functions; the local interconnect network (LIN), which is predominantly used for passenger/driver comfort purposes that are not time sensitive (such as climate control, ambient lighting, seat adjustment, etc.); the media oriented system transport (MOST), developed for infotainment; and FlexRay™ for anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic power steering (EPS) and vehicle stability functions.

As a result of using different protocols, gateways are needed to transfer data within the infrastructure. The resulting complexity is costly for car manufacturers. It also affects vehicle fuel economy, since the wire harnessing needed for each respective network adds extra weight to the vehicle. The wire harness represents the third heaviest element of the vehicle (after the engine and chassis) and the third most expensive, too. Furthermore, these gateways have latency issues, something that will impact safety-critical applications where rapid response is required.

The number of electronic control units (ECUs) incorporated into cars is continuously increasing, with luxury models now often having 150 or more ECUs, and even standard models are now approaching 80-90 ECUs. At the same time, data intensive applications are emerging to support advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) implementation, as we move toward greater levels of vehicle autonomy. All this is causing a significant ramp in data rates and overall bandwidth, with the increasing deployment of HD cameras and LiDAR technology on the horizon.

As a consequence, the entire approach in which in-vehicle networking is deployed needs to fundamentally change, first in terms of the topology used and, second, with regard to the underlying technology on which it relies.

Currently, the networking infrastructure found inside a car is a domain-based architecture. There are different domains for each key function – one for body control, one for infotainment, one for telematics, one for powertrain, and so on. Often these domains employ a mix of different network protocols (e.g., with CAN, LIN and others being involved).

As network complexity increases, it is now becoming clear to automotive engineers that this domain-based approach is becoming less and less efficient. Consequently, in the coming years, there will need to be a migration away from the current domain-based architecture to a zonal one.

A zonal arrangement means data from different traditional domains is connected to the same ECU, based on the location (zone) of that ECU in the vehicle. This arrangement will greatly reduce the wire harnessing required, thereby lowering weight and cost – which in turn will translate into better fuel efficiency. Ethernet technology will be pivotal in moving to zonal-based, in-vehicle networks.

In addition to the high data rates that Ethernet technology can support, Ethernet adheres to the universally-recognized OSI communication model. Ethernet is a stable, long-established and well-understood technology that has already seen widespread deployment in the data communication and industrial automation sectors. Unlike other in-vehicle networking protocols, Ethernet has a well-defined development roadmap that is targeting additional speed grades, whereas protocols – like CAN, LIN and others – are already reaching a stage where applications are starting to exceed their capabilities, with no clear upgrade path to alleviate the problem.

Future expectations are that Ethernet will form the foundation upon which all data transfer around the car will occur, providing a common protocol stack that reduces the need for gateways between different protocols (along with the hardware costs and the accompanying software overhead). The result will be a single homogeneous network throughout the vehicle in which all the protocols and data formats are consistent. It will mean that the in-vehicle network will be scalable, allowing functions that require higher speeds (10G for example) and ultra-low latency to be attended to, while also addressing the needs of lower speed functions. Ethernet PHYs will be selected according to the particular application and bandwidth demands – whether it is a 1Gbps device for transporting imaging sensing data, or one for 10Mbps operation, as required for the new class of low data rate sensors that will be used in autonomous driving.

Each Ethernet switch in a zonal architecture will be able to carry data for all the different domain activities. All the different data domains would be connected to local switches and the Ethernet backbone would then aggregate the data, resulting in a more effective use of the available resources and allowing different speeds to be supported, as required, while using the same core protocols. This homogenous network will provide ‘any data, anywhere’ in the car, supporting new applications through combining data from different domains available through the network.

Marvell is leading the way when it comes to the progression of Ethernet-based, in-vehicle networking and zonal architectures by launching, back in the summer of 2017, the AEC-Q100-compliant 88Q5050 secure Gigabit Ethernet switch for use in automobiles. This device not only deals with OSI Layers 1-2 (the physical layer and data layer) functions associated with standard Ethernet implementations, it also has functions located at OSI Layers 3,4 and beyond (the network layer, transport layer and higher), such as deep packet inspection (DPI). This, in combination with Trusted Boot functionality, provides automotive network architects with key features vital in ensuring network security.