NXP Semiconductors N.V. recently announced an engagement in automotive Ethernet as the first automotive semiconductor supplier to license Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach Ethernet technology for in-vehicle networking.
Speaking exclusively on the engagement, Lars Reger, VP automotive business & strategy and general manager integrated in-vehicle networking, NXP Semiconductors, said: "We are convinced that Ethernet will only be successful on a mass-market level if we manage to find one uniform standard in the automotive industry. Car manufacturers around the world are really pushing towards this. As no. 1 supplier of in-vehicle networking semiconductors, NXP can make a big impact and take a leading role to this end. NXP has taken the decision, as the first automotive semiconductors company, to license BroadR Reach.
"This technology uses single-pair, unshielded cable which makes high-bandwith networking very cost-efficient. We will use the licensed IP as a basis for developing the physical layer chips for Ethernet. For the development process, we can rely on our expertise in automotive electronics and our application know-how to meet the automotive quality requirements.
"Altogether, this license will save NXP an significant amount in R&D cost. At the same time, it will allow us to bring a full portfolio of Ethernet transceivers to the market in a much shorter time period. Ethernet will well complementary to other technology standards that NXP offers for in-vehicle networking, which are CAN, LIN, and FlexRay, as each one has its specific advantages. In short: it’s the next logical portfolio enhancement and we will be in the market early 2013 with first samples."
So, what does this arrangement set out to achieve? Reger said: "Ethernet will give a major boost to the connected car. With Ethernet, a networking technology will be available that is cost-efficient and yet powerful enough to cope with the huge amounts of data generated through modern infotainment systems, new camera-based driver assist systems like 360 degree cams, or traffic sign recognition.
"Ethernet technology, as it’s already well established in the consumer and business areas, will make it much easier to adapt existing technologies to automotive applications and to bring them into the car in much shorter development circles. NXP has a major interest to push this. As we combine in-vehicle networking with wireless technologies like broadcast reception, telematics, car-to-x, and car access technologies, we see a big market there for high performance mixed signal technologies – NXP’s focus area."
Given the high price of petrol in India, does NXP see a thriving market for automotives in future? Reger replied: "Reducing fuel consumption is definitely a main innovation driver in the automotive industry – and that’s not only true for India, but around the world. The effort to bring fuel consumption down concerns every single component in the car and is a number one priority for semiconductors suppliers. Let’s take in-vehicle networking as a good example.
"At a major international automotive conference held in Ludwigsburg, Germany, in June this year, Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen made a public announcement in favour of rapidly introducing a new technology called “partial networking”. Partial networking gives design engineers precision control over a vehicle’s bus communication network.
"By intelligently de-activating those Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that are currently not needed, engineers are able to significantly reduce vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions without sacrificing performance or consumer experience. NXP has recently announced the world’s first ISO compliant solution for this purpose. It saves 3 percent CO2, which equals 0.11 litres fuel per 100km. It’s one out of many steps needed to improve the efficiency of vehicles.
"For sure there is further fuel saving potential like this. In the end, growth potential in the automotive industry will depend to a large extent on whether we manage to really make these potential savings a reality."