NXP licenses Broadcom technology for in-vehicle Ethernet networks

November 11, 2011  by  

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NXP products based on Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach planned for 2012

NXP Semiconductors N.V. announced its engagement in automotive Ethernet as the first automotive semiconductor supplier to license Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach® Ethernet technology for in-vehicle networking.

NXP said it plans to create an automotive-grade product portfolio for the Ethernet physical layer based upon BroadR-Reach®, leveraging NXP’s expertise in automotive electronics and in the industry’s quality requirements, as well as NXP’s application expertise. The first NXP product samples are expected to be available in the second half of 2012.

“We’re very excited that NXP, as a key supplier of innovative in-vehicle electronics, has chosen to license BroadR-Reach,” said Dr. Ali Abaye, senior director of PHY product marketing, Broadcom Corporation. “Licensing BroadR-Reach to other semiconductor suppliers will encourage wide-scale adoption of 100 Mbps Ethernet connectivity as the standard in automotive networking applications.” As NXP is the No. 1 supplier of In-Vehicle Networking electronics, this is a significant step forward in establishing BroadR-Reach as an open, de facto standard for in-vehicle Ethernet.

“We see Ethernet as the best choice for high-bandwidth in-vehicle networks and believe that BroadR-Reach is the superior technology in this field,” said Rob Hoeben, director of marketing and business development for Ethernet, NXP Semiconductors. “As such, we have chosen to partner with Broadcom rather than undertake a parallel R&D program. This enables us to reduce development costs, and also to bring new technologies to the automotive market more quickly. We believe that licensing BroadR-Reach will give a major boost to its adoption as a de facto standard for automotive Ethernet. Based upon the BroadR-Reach IP from Broadcom, we will develop our own automotive-grade PHY products.”

High-bandwidth, low-cost networking

Major car manufacturers are designing with Ethernet as a high-bandwidth, low-cost networking technology complementary to existing in-vehicle network technologies such as CAN, LIN, LVDS and FlexRay. BMW cars supporting Ethernet have been available since 2008.

As cars evolve into ever more sophisticated and connected electronic environments, there is increasing demand among OEMs and design engineers for an in-vehicle networking technology that can handle high-bandwidth applications without being excessively expensive. Broadcom BroadR-Reach Ethernet technology has significant cost advantages over other high-bandwidth automotive networking technologies such as LVDS, based on its ability to operate over single unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling. Single UTP is less expensive and lower in weight than shielded cabling, and the technology is already in use by CAN- and LIN-based control systems, enabling BroadR-Reach to run over existing in-vehicle networks.

Ethernet is a globally recognized standard that supports IP-based networking, and existing IP software and applications from consumer and business markets can be adapted for automotive use, speeding the development of the connected vehicles of the future.

Camera-based security, networked infotainment

One of the key applications driving high-bandwidth in vehicles is camera-based security, a safety feature that may become mandatory for new vehicles in countries such as the U.S. Instances in which the driver doesn’t have a complete view in maneuvering the car − for example, when backing out of a tight space or reversing down a drive – may lead to damage to the car or injury to pedestrians. By networking a series of cameras mounted on the outside of the vehicle, the driver can get a 360-degree view of what’s happening around the car displayed via the dashboard. Ethernet could also support networked infotainment.

Lars Reger, NXP vice president, Strategy and New Business, said that within the next four to five years medium to high-end vehicles might contain as many as 15 cameras for applications including traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear-view, and park assist.

“Higher bandwidth, between 10Mbps and 100Mbps is needed for video streaming from cameras to an ECU,” he said. “Cameras already have Ethernet output capability and we will provide the physical layer needed to convert output signals for transmission.”

Broadcom, NXP, Freescale, and Harman also announced the foundation of the OPEN Alliance Special Interest Group. The objective of the newly founded group is to drive the wide adoption of Ethernet in the automotive industry.

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