100Mb/sec Ethernet coming to a car near you?

IEEE sets study group for 100Mb/sec automotive Ethernet

As more and more infotainment and crash avoidance technology gets stuffed to cars and trucks, the need for better, faster and more reliable in-car networking equipment grows. In theory at least.

openalliance technology

With an eye towards that concept the IEEE this week said it formed the 802.3 Single Twisted Pair 100 Mb/s Ethernet Study Group to explore the technological needs for a 100 Mb/s speed for Ethernet in automotive networking.

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The IEEE said that an increasing number of automotive sub-systems will require a 1 Gb/sec Ethernet connection, “the stringent economic constraints of the volume vehicle environment allow only a 100 Mb/sec Ethernet connection in many of the applications. A reduced data rate will allow for lower cost Electronic Control Units and more economical twisted pair wiring. As a result, automotive vendors are looking for an IEEE standardized, interoperable solution at 100 Mb/sec.”

The new study group expects to lay the groundwork for another single twisted pair technology standard and ‘future proof’ these systems, while maintaining traditional Ethernet compatibility with higher-performance 1000BASE-T1 links that may also be used in the car,” said Thomas Hogenmüller, chair of the IEEE 802.3 Single Twisted Pair 100 Mb/s Ethernet Study Group in a release. “The 100 Mb/s option will also allow for a more rapid adoption of driver assist and other vehicle safety systems into low to mid-range vehicles.”

Indeed there is an emerging market for faster Ethernet in cars. One study by Frost & Sullivan predicted that premium vehicles will have more than 100 Ethernet nodes by 2020 with mass-market cars will having up to 60.

“The bandwidth requirement for in-vehicle electronic applications, such as camera-assisted parking with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), lane departure warning systems, collision avoidance systems, and traffic light recognition is higher, in the range over 100Mbps. The number of nodes to be connected therefore is also higher. Most importantly, proven IP-based Ethernet technology enables OEMs to use a single-network platform by significantly reducing the connectivity cost and cabling weight. It is scalable and flexible enough to be used in multiple vehicle segments,” stated Frost & Sullivan in a study last year.

The standardization issue was laid out in a Computerworld story earlier this year which stated: There are as many as nine proprietary auto networking specifications, including LIN, CAN/CAN-FD, MOST and FlexRay. FlexRay, for example, has a 10Mbps transmission rate. Ethernet could increase that 10 fold or more.

“The effort to create a single vehicle Ethernet standard is being lead by Open Alliance and the IEEE 802.3 working group. The groups are working to establish 100Mbps and 1Gbps Ethernet as de facto standards. The Open Alliance claims more than 200 members, including General Motors, Ford, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen. Jaguar Land Rover, Renault, Volvo, Bosch, Freescale and Harman. Broadcom, which makes electronic control unit chips for automobiles, is a member of the Open Alliance and is working on the effort to standardize automotive Ethernet,” Computerworld wrote.

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