Archive for July, 2013

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Texas Instruments introduces Hercules™ LaunchPad, enabling designers to evaluate TI’s Hercules MCUs’ safety features for less than $20

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Newest addition rounds out TI’s LaunchPad ecosystem, providing a low-cost development tool for every TI MCU product line

Today, Texas Instruments (TI) (NASDAQ: TXN), welcomed the newest member to its popular microcontroller (MCU) LaunchPad ecosystem. At $19.99, the Hercules™ LaunchPad is the lowest cost evaluation platform for Hercules MCUs and provides an entry-level option enabling developers to gain familiarity with TI Hercules MCUs and evaluate the MCUs’ performance and safety features.

The TI Hercules LaunchPad is a modular, quick-launch evaluation kit that contains the development board, USB cable and documentation.  On-board emulation and included Hercules MCU demos allow exploration of advanced safety features integrated in Hercules MCUs.  The Hercules LaunchPad is available in two models – one based on the Hercules TMS570LS04x MCU and another based on Hercules RM42x MCU. Dual lockstep ARM® Cortex™-R4 based Hercules MCUs are intended for use in safety-critical automotive, industrial and medical applications needing to adhere to industry safety standards such as ISO 26262 and IEC 61508.

The TI MCU LaunchPad ecosystem, with its MSP430™ LaunchPad, C2000™ LaunchPad, Tiva™ C Series LaunchPad and now the new Hercules LaunchPad, offers flexibility and expandability through many available BoosterPack expansion boards.  These BoosterPacks enable greater functionality and speed design and exploration. Developers can get started quickly with TI’s free software, tools and documentation, as well as share project ideas and collaborate with best practices through a large community

Features and benefits of the Hercules LaunchPad:

  • Enables customers to evaluate Hercules MCUs designed for safety-critical applications related to functional safety standards, such as IEC 61508 and ISO 26262.
  • Allows for expansion with a 40-pin BoosterPack header that brings out MCU pins for design flexibility.
  • Provides footprint for an additional header to complete access to all MCU pins.
  • Contains the development board with a features demo, USB cable and quick start guide to jumpstart evaluation directly out of the box.
  • Powered by USB, the board integrates an on-board XDS100v2 JTAG emulator, LED lights, a light sensor and SCI to PC serial communication port for design flexibility.
  • Includes software for evaluation, including Hercules MCU safety demos with downloadable host graphical user interface (GUI) to select and run the demos.
  • Provides software drivers for demos using the Educational BoosterPack, an add-on module with an accelerometer, an LCD display, tri-color LEDs and other features to help users get familiar with the MCUs’ input/output (I/O) interfaces.
  • Supports latest version of TI’s Eclipse-based Code Composer Studio™ integrated development environment (IDE) to ease development.
  • Offers HALCoGen for download – GUI based code generation tool that allows developers to jump start their code development on Hercules MCU platform.

Availability and ordering
The TI Hercules TMS570LS04 MCU LaunchPad (LAUNCHXL-TMS57004) and Hercules RM42x MCU LaunchPad (LAUNCHXL-RM42) are available for $19.99 through the TI estore. Designers can also add to their growing TI MCU LaunchPad collection with the MSP430, C2000 and Tiva C Series LaunchPads and BoosterPacks, available at  Once designers have familiarized themselves with Hercules MCUs using the Hercules LaunchPad, they can take designs to the next level with a variety of other Hercules MCU tools

For more information:

TI’s broad portfolio of microcontrollers (MCUs) and software
Leading the industry in MCUs for low-power, real-time control, safety and connectivity and, TI continues its 20+ years of microcontroller innovation to offer the broadest microcontroller portfolio in the industry: Ultra-low-power MSP MCUs, real-time control C2000™ MCUs,  Tiva™ ARM® MCUs and Hercules™ ARM MCUs. Designers can accelerate time to market by tapping into TI’s tools, software, wireless connectivity solutions, extensive Design Network offerings and technical support.

About Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog ICs and embedded processors.  By employing the world’s brightest minds, TI creates innovations that shape the future of technology.  TI is helping more than 100,000 customers transform the future, today.  Learn more at

Tiva, C2000, MSP430, Hercules and Code Composer Studio are trademarks of Texas Instruments Incorporated.  All other trademarks belong to their respective owners.

SOURCE Texas Instruments (TI)

Contact Information

Texas Instruments

12500 TI Boulevard
Dallas, TX, 75243
United States

tele: 972-644-5580

QNX and Windows Embedded Automotive Market Share to Drop to 69% with Open Source Linux/GENIVI Grabbing 20% of Automotive OS Shipments by end of 2018

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

ABI Research forecasts that the number of OEM-installed connected car telematics systems will increase from around 7.8 million at the end of 2012 to 46.8 million units globally by the end of 2018, with Linux/GENIVI platforms accounting for an increasing percentage of shipments during the period.

At present, QNX Software and Microsoft together account for around 75 to 80% of the car-infotainment OS market. However, questions remain about the long-term future of proprietary automotive OSes.

“The automotive industry is set for a number of dramatic paradigm shifts,” said principal analyst, Gareth Owen. “The adoption of open source platforms, such as GENIVI is just one example. In this regard, the automotive industry mirrors trends in mobile.”

“QNX is responding by making its car platform more open,” continued Owen. “In particular, developers can now tap into established and innovative mobile-developer eco-systems for Android, HTML5, and Qt 5 apps. With the pace of change in automotive still being quite slow, the mid-term future for QNX still looks bright. Plus QNX has the important advantage of having a tried and tested optimized solution. Hence, QNX is still an attractive solution for a risk-averse automotive industry.”

Although open source software has only appeared in one high-profile application so far: the Linux-powered CUE infotainment system in the 2013 General Motors Cadillac model range, ABI Research expects that Linux and Linux GENIVI-based platforms will slowly displace Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive OS in importance, despite the fact that it too has taken steps to “open-up” parts of its platform.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Automotive Infotainment Research Service which provides analysis of key developments and trends in the marketplace and quantitative information via its extensive car infotainment database. Updated on a quarterly basis, the database provides detailed installed base and forecasts of the car infotainment market by type and region as well as detailed information and forecasts on Bluetooth penetration in cars, automotive apps, and automotive operating systems split by global region.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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Atmel Launches New Automotive-Qualified maXTouch Controller Family; Enables Single-Layer Shieldless Touchscreen and Touchpad Designs in Car Center Stacks

Monday, July 15th, 2013

True Single-Layer Shieldless Designs Reduce System Complexity, Lowers Overall Cost and Provides Lower Power Consumption

Atmel® Corporation (NASDAQ: ATML), a global leader in microcontroller and touch technology solutions, today announced the availability of a new maXTouch® family to enable single-layer shieldless designs in automotive center stacks, navigation systems, radio interfaces or rear seat entertainment systems. Atmel’s mXT336S is optimized for 7-inch touchscreens, while the mXT224S targets smaller touchscreens and touchpads.

The new mXT336S and mXT224S devices further strengthen Atmel’s position as a market-leading touch supplier to support consumer, industrial and automotive applications with maXTouch. The new touch devices are AEC-Q100-compliant and fully automotive qualified.

They offer superior performance, multitouch, faster response time, more precise touches, robust operation and lower power consumption. The new mXT336S and mXT224S devices also provide dedicated embedded functionality that meet current automotive design requirements.

Dedicated firmware and a high signal-to-noise ratio makes these devices ideally suited for very noisy environments. Since only a high signal-to-noise ratio enables detection of touches with a “gloved” finger, the devices provide full support for gloved hand operation on automotive touchscreens.

One key requirement for automotive designs is the support for shieldless sensors. “Conventional touch controllers are unable to handle LCD noise, so an additional shield layer is required to prevent noise coupling,” said Stephan Thaler, Atmel Marketing Director for Automotive Touch Products. “Thanks to the superior noise handling and filtering capabilities of our new automotive-qualified maXTouch devices, shields are no longer required, and designers can use single-layer sensors instead of dual or triple layers, which are typical in many current applications. By eliminating an additional layer, designers have a thinner stack which reduces the overall system complexity, lowering the overall cost and power consumption, and resulting in higher product yields during production.”

Further Embedded Automotive Functionalities

The mXT336S/mXT224S devices support touch detection, up to 10 simultaneous touches, touch size reporting, single- and dual-touch gesture calculation, communication of X/Y positions, gesture support, and the ability to eliminate unintended touches. Users can perform multi-touch gestures (pinch, stretch, etc.), while unintended touches are rejected, such as a resting hand on the screen. All these key features bring the smartphone experience into contemporary cars.


Samples of the automotive-qualified mXT336S and mXT224S touch controllers are available now in TQFP64 packages. Demo kits for both devices are also available to support design-in and shorten time–to-market.

About Atmel

Atmel Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML) is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, capacitive touch solutions, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Leveraging one of the industry’s broadest intellectual property (IP) technology portfolios, Atmel is able to provide the electronics industry with complete system solutions focused on industrial, consumer, communications, computing and automotive markets.

© 2013 Atmel Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Atmel®, Atmel logo and combinations thereof, maXTouch® and others are registered trademarks or trademarks of Atmel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other terms and product names may be trademarks of others.

More Information:

More information on automotive-qualified maXTouch mXT336S/mXT224S touchscreen controller families is available at:

27.9 Million MirrorLink and GENIVI Car Infotainment Systems Shipments by 2018

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

ABI Research forecasts that the number of MirrorLink and GENIVI car connected automotive infotainment systems will increase from around 10,000 at the end of 2012 to 27.9 million in North America, Western Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region by the end of 2018. Consumers want to stay connected in their cars and OEMs increasingly see infotainment as a key differentiator for their vehicles. However, as OEMs strive to meet their customers’ technological demands they must decide whether to deliver services through an embedded on-board system or via the driver’s mobile phone.

“At stake is whether the in-vehicle infotainment system remains a proprietary system controlled by a few OEMs, becomes an open eco-system nurtured by an international developer community, or whether connectivity, processing, and service delivery resides in the phone and is controlled by the mobile phone industry,” commented Gareth Owen, principal analyst.

MirrorLink and GENIVI are two emerging open industry standards battling against established systems such as BlackBerry’s proprietary QNX platform, and Microsoft’s Embedded Automotive platform. In particular, MirrorLink faces challenges with respect to app development and certification and the introduction of new screen replication technologies from a number of competitors could quickly lead to market fragmentation.

“GENIVI has strong support in the automotive industry but Apple’s imminent entry into the car space is a real threat for MirrorLink unless it can gain traction quickly. MirrorLink really needs to launch its version 1.1 quickly and get as many handset vendors as possible to introduce MirrorLink v1.1 compatible devices,” added Owen.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Automotive Infotainment Research Service which provides analysis of key developments and trends in the marketplace and quantitative information via its extensive car infotainment database. Updated on a quarterly basis, the database offers detailed installed base and forecasts of the car infotainment market by type and region as well as detailed information and forecasts on Bluetooth penetration in cars, automotive apps, and automotive operating systems split by global region.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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TI introduces motor driver family with integrated power management and CAN interface for use in automotive functional safety applications

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Texas Instruments (TI) (NASDAQ: TXN) today expanded the industry’s first automotive motor driver family intended to help TI customers design automotive applications to meet the functional safety requirements of ISO 26262. With three new devices added today, the DRV32xx-Q1 family now comprises four 3-phase, brushless, pre-FET motor drivers equipped with built-in diagnostic capabilities. The DRV3202-Q1 offers automotive system designers integrated power management and CAN interface to help reduce board space and design complexity in their safety-critical applications. The DRV3203-Q1 and DRV3204-Q1 help TI customers design safety-critical applications to meet ASIL-B, while the DRV3201-Q1, previously introduced in October, 2012 helps TI customers design safety-critical applications to meet ASIL-D requirements.

The three new motor drivers added to the family provide designers with highly reliable and space-saving options intended to help them address the challenges of space constraints and harsh conditions such as high-temperature, low-voltage start-stop and cold crank situations. Applications in which these devices may be used include power steering, hybrid electric vehicles/electric vehicles (HEV/EV), power train, oil pump, water pump and electric braking systems. For more information or to order samples, visit

Key features and benefits of the DRV32xx-Q1 family:

  • Optimized component count and board space for cost- and space-sensitive applications: The DRV3202-Q1 integrates a voltage regulator and CAN interface to reduce component count and minimize system cost and board space.
  • Built-in diagnostics: The DRV32xx-Q1 family integrates hard-wired diagnostic circuits including a pre-FET driver short, over/under voltage and over temperature. The system’s microcontroller can quickly communicate with the DRV32xx-Q1 family and monitor internal status through serial peripheral interface (SPI).
  • Devices help TI customers design applications to meet the functional safety requirements of ISO 26262: The DRV3201-Q1 can help TI customers design critical-safety applications, such as electric power steering and electric braking systems, to meet ASIL-D requirements, and the DRV3204-Q1 and DRV3203-Q1 can help customers design safety applications, such as oil pump and water pump, to meet ASIL-B requirements.
  • Design simplicity for start-stop and cold crank applications: With an integrated boost regulator, the DRV3201-Q1 eliminates the need for a large capacitor to hold battery voltage. With an integrated low drop-out linear regulator controller (LDO) and an external FET, the DRV3203-Q1 and DRV3204-Q1 also eliminate the need for a large capacitor or external boost regulator. This integration simplifies design and speeds up development time.

Highly integrated motor drivers for non-safety critical automotive applications

TI has also expanded its portfolio of DRV8x motor drivers to include new devices for automotive applications that span a complete range of motors including brushed DC (BDC), stepper, and brushless DC (BLDC). The highly integrated DRV8801-Q1, DRV8823-Q1, DRV8832-Q1 and DRV8301-Q1 can reduce board space by as much as 60% compared to the competition enabling smaller, more cost effective designs. All four devices support an operating ambient temperature range of -40 to 125C, targeting non-safety critical automotive applications such as retractable navigation screens; adjustable side mirrors; adaptive front lighting; fuel pumps; and seat, door, and window control. The new devices include the following:

  • DRV8801-Q1 brushed DC motor driver, featuring 8V to 38-V operating range and up to 2.8-A peak output.
  • DRV8823-Q1 quad brushed, dual stepper motor driver, featuring 8-V to 32-V operating range and up to 1.5-A peak output current.
  • DRV8832-Q1 brushed DC motor driver, featuring 2.75-V to 6.8-V operating range and up to 1-A peak output current.
  • DRV8301-Q1 3-phase brushless motor pre-driver, featuring 6-V to 60-V operating range and integrating a gate drive up to 1.7-A, 1.5-A step-down voltage regulator, and dual low side current sense amplifiers.

Tools and support:

Simulation models and evaluation modules (EVMs) are available for the DRV3203-Q1 and DRV3204-Q1 at

Evaluation modules (EVMs) are also available today for the DRV8801-Q1, DRV8823-Q1, DRV8832-Q1 and DRV8301-Q1.

Availability, packaging and pricing

3-phase, brushless, pre-FET motor drivers for safety-critical automotive applications:

  • DRV3202-Q1: Available in an HTQFP 80-pin package priced at US$3.80 in 1,000-unit quantities.
  • DRV3201-Q1: Available in an HTQFP 64-pin package priced at US$2.63 in 1,000-unit quantities.  
  • DRV3204-Q1 and DRV3203-Q1: Grade 1 (Ta=125C) devices are available immediately for ordering and Grade-0 (Ta=150C) devices will be available in October 2013. Both Grade 1 and Grade 0 devices will be available in an HTQFP 48-pin package.  The DRV3204-Q1 is priced at US$2.63 for 100-unit quantities and the DRV3203-Q1 is available upon request. 

These devices are available for immediate ordering at

Motor drivers for non-safety critical automotive applications:

  • DRV8801-Q1 brushed DC motor driver: Available now in a thin-profile 16-pin QFN package for enhanced thermal dissipation, priced at US$1.50.
  • DRV8823-Q1 quad brushed, dual stepper motor driver: Available now in a 48-pin HTSSOP package, priced at US$2.34.
  • DRV8832-Q1 brushed DC motor driver: Available now in a 10-pin MSOP package, priced at US$1.00.
  • DRV8301-Q1 3-phase brushless motor pre-driver:  Available in the fourth quarter, 2013, the DRV8301-Q1 will come in a 56-pin HTSSOP package priced at US$3.00.

SafeTI design packages and components 

  • TI’s SafeTI™ design packages  help designers build safety-critical systems that meet industry-standard safety requirements and also better manage both systematic and random failures. Using SafeTI components helps make it easier for customers to achieve safety certification and get to market more quickly with their safety-critical systems
  • Hercules™ MCU platform consists of three ARM® Cortex™-based microcontroller families: TMS470M, TMS570 and RM4x, intended to help TI customers design applications that meet IEC 61508 and ISO 26262 functional safety standards. The Hercules platform provides advanced integrated safety features while delivering scalable performance, connectivity and memory options:
  • The TPS65381-Q1 is a multi-rail power supply designed to supply power to microcontrollers in automotive safety-critical applications. This device supports TI’s TMS570LS series 16/32-bit RISC flash MCU and other microcontrollers with dual-core lockstep (LS) or loosely coupled architectures (LC), integrating multiple supply rails to power the MCU, CAN or FlexRay, and an external sensor. TPS65381-Q1 helps TI customers design automotive applications that meet IEC 61508 and ISO 26262 functional safety standards:

Texas Instruments drives automotive innovation

TI’s state-of-the-art semiconductor products allow manufacturers and system suppliers to deliver world-class features to the automotive market. Our extensive automotive portfolio includes analog power management, interface and signal chain solutions, along with DLP® displays, ADAS and infotainment processors, Hercules™ TMS570 microcontrollers and wireless connectivity solutions. TI offers SafeTI™ devices designed to help facilitate OEMs’ compliance with the requirements of ISO 26262, as well as parts specifically designated as compliant with the AEC-Q100 and TS16949 standards, all with product documentation. Click here to learn more.

Find out more about TI’s automotive and transportation portfolio by visiting the links below:

Learn more about TI’s motor control solutions by visiting the links below:

  • Ask questions, help solve problems in the Motor Drivers Forum in the TI E2E™ Community:
  • Follow TI’s motor experts in the Motor Solutions blog in the TI E2E Community:
  • Check out motor drive and control selection guides, training, videos, application notes and block diagrams:

About Texas Instruments                                         

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog ICs and embedded processors. By employing the world’s brightest minds, TI creates innovations that shape the future of technology. TI is helping more than 100,000 customers transform the future, today. Learn more at

Contact Information

Texas Instruments

12500 TI Boulevard
Dallas, TX, 75243
United States

tele: 972-644-5580

GENIVI compliant IVI (in vehicle infotainment) – how far can you go?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

On-demand Web Seminar

How far can you go when implemetning GENIVI-compliant in vehicle infotainment?  This presentation will highlight the current status of the GENIVI (in vehicle infotainment) initiative, and feature presentations from Mentor and ecosystem partners on the implementation options 


GENIVI was founded in March 2009, as an open source alliance to provide a standard platform for Infotainment systems designers. Version 2.0 of the specification has now been released, and vendors are busy announcing compliant products. As the specifications become more feature-rich, they will undoubtedly become more usable – but how much can be used now, and where are the gaps? What is supplied as open source and what still needs to be purchased as a commercial solution? What hardware support is available? Does Android have a role to play? This presentation will highlight the current status of the GENIVI initiative, and feature presentations from Mentor and ecosystem partners on the implementation options.

What You Will Learn

  • Current IVI trends, and the infrastructure needed to implement them
  • About GENIVI, its current status and future direction, and how to gain GENIVI compliance
  • What is Open Source and what it is not: Which components of the IVI system remain proprietary and how do they integrate with Open Source?
  • How to solve the integration problem : Building in adjacent functions, such as AutoSar and Android-based applications
  • A short overview of the current IVI design solution provided by Mentor Graphics

About the Presenter

Andrew Patterson

Andrew Patterson is Business Development Director for Mentor Graphics embedded division, specializing in the automotive market. Prior to Mentor Andrew has spent over 20 years in the Design Automation market specializing in a wide range of technologies including wire harness design, automotive simulation model development, virtual prototyping, and mechatronics. Currently he is focused on working with the GENIVI industry alliance, and leading Mentor’s Infotainment and in-vehicle Electronic Cluster and Telematics solutions. Andrew holds a master’s degree in Engineering and Electrical Sciences from Cambridge University, UK.

Who Should View

  • Infotainment systems designers, who are looking to refresh existing technology, or build in GENIVI components
  • Those involved in Infotainment System design specification and validation from automotive OEMs
  • Developers of tools, services and solutions for the automotive industry

Contact Information

Mentor Graphics – Veloce Emulation Platform

8005 SW Boeckman Rd.
Wilsonville, OR, 97070

tele: 1-503-685-8000
toll-free: 1-800-547-3000

Automotive Ethernet Moves to the Fast Lane

Monday, July 8th, 2013

The consortium’s objective is to help producers of BroadR-Reach devices and auto manufacturers bring their products to market faster, while ensuring there is broad market appeal for devices through interoperability and conformance testing and demonstrating product readiness.

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) recently announced the launch of the Automotive Ethernet Consortium, which hopes to pave the way for semiconductor companies to address automotive industry requirements for next generation in-vehicle networking. We talked to Dave Estes, Ethernet manager and research and development engineer for UNH-IOL, and Jeff Lapak, UNH-IOL senior manager for Ethernet technologies, to get more background and to understand what the announcement means for developers of embedded automotive systems.

First, some background. A year ago, the OPEN Alliance (One-Pair Ether-Net) Special Interest Group (SIG) was announced by Broadcom, NXP, Freescale and Harman International, along with founding automotive members BMW and Hyundai, to encourage wide-scale adoption of 100Mbps Ethernet connectivity as the standard in automotive networking applications. The approach is based on Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach technology to allow multiple in-vehicle systems (such as infotainment, automated driver assistance and on board-diagnostics) to simultaneously access information over unshielded single twisted pair cable. By eliminating shielded cabling, the group expects automotive manufacturers can significantly reduce connectivity costs and cabling weight.

Figure 1: Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach® Ethernet solutions power the next-generation connected car. Image provided by Broadcom Corporation

UNH-IOL is the first laboratory to be endorsed by the OPEN Alliance to provide neutral testing for the BroadR-Reach standard, but is no stranger to this approach: the lab was founded in 1988 to do Ethernet 10Base-T testing. The lab employs about 100 undergraduates and 10 graduate assistants, plus about 20 full-time staff members, and has 20-22 consortia doing testing for different technologies at any given time. Consortia membership varies from year to year, but the lab typically works with more than 200 companies. These organizations’ year-long memberships allow access to testing and equipment throughout the year. While the lab is affiliated with the University of New Hampshire, all projects are funded by industry through membership and testing fees. The lab is active in IEEE 802.3 working groups and the Ethernet Alliance.

Figure 2: Representatives from companies participating in a University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) plugfest assemble at the laboratory in Durham, New Hampshire.  UNH-IOL plugfests allow participating companies to test their products and identify interoperability issues early, speeding go to market time for products.

For embedded developers of automotive systems, the lab offers the confidence that Ethernet-based products are interoperable and conformant to the customer’s expectations. Developers should be able to reduce time to market by having an existing set of test beds available for them to come in and test against, as well as the potential competitive advantage of an Ethernet-based system that is proven compliant and interoperable. The lab is careful to maintain third-party independence and neutrality to make sure that even direct competitors can use the lab for testing, knowing the results will stay completely confidential.


According to Jeff Lapak, auto manufacturers who are part of the Open Alliance are looking towards Ethernet as the way of the future. Most of the big automotive players are consortium members, including BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota, and new members are joining all the time. Although testing is currently only available to semiconductor companies, the UNH-IOL plans to open membership to parts suppliers and automotive manufacturers as adoption of the BroadR-Reach standard progresses. Dave Estes provided the following responses via email.

EECatalog: What was the objective for establishing the Automotive Ethernet Consortium? What does “success” look like a year from now? Five years from now?


Dave Estes, UNH-IOL: The objective is to help producers of BroadR-Reach devices and auto manufacturers bring their products to market faster and to ensure there is broad market appeal for these devices through interoperability and conformance testing and demonstrating product readiness. In a year we hope to have several members including semiconductor companies, parts suppliers and auto manufacturers. Success would also mean having tested a reasonable number of products and showing proven interoperability. In five years we hope to have even more members and to be testing the next generation of in-car Ethernet being standardized by the IEEE, which is called Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet (RTPGE).

EECatalog: Are there key semiconductor (or other technology) vendors who are taking alternative approaches?

Estes, UNH-IOL: I am not aware of any other Ethernet technologies that are targeted for the automotive industry. There are several other in-car technologies that vendors may be invested in. Additionally, not all vendors will have become members of our consortium at this time, as it is still in an early-adopter state.

EECatalog: How will this group interact with other relevant in-vehicle networking standards groups, such as the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Groups?

Estes, UNH-IOL: This group will be actively participating in the IEEE802.3 RTPGE working group which is defining the Gigabit Ethernet PHY that is expected to be used in the automotive industry. We will also be working with the OPEN Alliance and the AVnu Alliance.

EECatalog: What’s holding back the broad use of Ethernet in in-car networks? What issues still need to be addressed?

Estes, UNH-IOL: Prior to BroadR-Reach, Ethernet was not widely used in in-car networks simply because the auto manufacturers had to use shielded cables to meet the automobile EMC requirements. Shielded cables are heavier and more expensive. BroadR-Reach is able to meet the EMC requirements over a single unshielded twisted pair, saving weight and cost. Additionally there was no alliance or forum that had formed to select a single automotive Ethernet standard, therefore the market could not easily select a single approach. As for issues that still exist, this is the main reason we launched our effort. At this point a standard is selected and the technology will be adopted faster by proving that it works.

EECatalog: How will the migration from multiple “closed” systems to a single Ethernet-based network play out for developers? Are there challenges they’ll need to address as this evolution proceeds?

Estes, UNH-IOL: By using a standardized version of Ethernet and proper testing, auto manufacturers will have access to a wide variety of products from multiple suppliers while guaranteeing that the networking interfaces will work together. However as in all technology deployments, each individual auto manufacturer will need to address how best to migrate into using this technology.

EECatalog: Some of the advantages of this standard include more cost-effective safety and driver-assistance applications as well as advanced power savings that may be especially important for electric cars. What other opportunities for innovation do you expect to see as this approach gains momentum?

Estes, UNH-IOL: Some other advantages are reducing the weight of the cable harnesses in cars, which should reduce cost and increase performance (fuel-efficiency). Also the nature of Ethernet networks means that by using packet switching an appropriate amount of bandwidth can be allocated to different systems. There are far too many other potential applications to comment on what may be actually developed (car safety systems like radar, cameras, infotainment systems, drive-by-wire, etc.).

EECatalog: There’s already a lot of talk about security concerns with connected cars. Is that an issue you’re addressing?

Estes, UNH-IOL: This issue will not be immediately addressed by our Automotive Ethernet Consortium; however this is an area that we can explore in the future because our lab has a lot of expertise in security protocols such as MACsec and IPsec. Also currently this technology is a wired solution; connected cars, on the other hand, I believe refers to wireless communication between vehicles, which is not currently part of this effort.

EECatalog: Are there any common misunderstandings about the consortium’s approach that you continue to run into? What questions do you find yourself answering regularly (or not often enough)?

Estes, UNH-IOL: The common misunderstandings are very similar to what we would have in any consortium. They generally revolve around the membership model, although we also offer pay-per-test services, and how they can access our test bed. There are also general questions about what kind of products we can test.


Cheryl Berglund Coupé is editor of EECatalog. com. Her articles have appeared in EE Times, Electronic Business, Microsoft Embedded Review and Windows Developer’s Journal and she has developed presentations for the Embedded Systems Conference and ICSPAT. She has held a variety of production, technical marketing and writing positions within technology companies and agencies in the Northwest.

Driver Assistance Systems with the Power of FPGAs

Monday, July 8th, 2013

In recent years, the automotive industry has made remarkable advances in driver assistance (DA) systems that truly enrich the driving experience and provide drivers with new forms of information about the roadway around them. This article looks at how FPGAs can be leveraged to quickly bring new driver assistance innovations to market.

Driver Assistance Introduction
Since the early 1990s, developers of advanced DA systems have envisioned a safer, more convenient driving experience. Over the past two decades, DA features such as ultrasonic park assist, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning systems in high-end vehicles have been deployed. Recently, automotive manufacturers have added rear-view cameras, blind-spot detection and surround-vision systems as options. Except for ultrasonic park assist, deployment volumes for DA systems have been limited. However, the research firm Strategy Analytics forecasts that DA system deployment will rise dramatically over the next decade, including growth from $170 billion in 2011 to $266 billion by 2016 – a compound average annual growth rate of 9.3%.

In addition to government legislation and strong consumer interest in safety features, innovations in remote sensors and associated processing algorithms that extract and interpret critical information are fueling an increase in DA system deployment. Over time, these DA systems will become more sophisticated and move from high-end to mainstream vehicles, with FPGA-based processing playing a major role.

Driver Assistance Sensing Technology Trends
Sensor research and development activities have leveraged adjacent markets, such as cell phone cameras, to produce devices that not only perform in the automotive environment, but also meet strict cost targets. Similarly, developers have refined complex processing algorithms using PC-based tools and are transitioning them to embedded platforms.

While ultrasonic sensing technology has led the market, IMS Research (Figure 1) shows camera sensors dominating in the coming years.

Figure 1: Driver Assistance Sensors Market

A unique attribute of camera sensors is the value of both the raw and processed outputs. Raw video from a camera can be directly displayed for a driver to identify and assess hazardous conditions, something not possible with other types of remote sensors (for example, radar). Alternatively (or even simultaneously), the video output can be processed using image analytics to extract key information, such as the location and motion of pedestrians. Developers can further expand this “dual-use” concept of camera sensor data by bundling multiple consumer features based on a single set of cameras, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Bundling Multiple Automotive Features

From such applications, it is possible to draw a number of conclusions regarding the requirements of suitable processing platforms for camera-based DA systems:

  • They must support both video processing and image processing. In this case, video processing refers to proper handling of raw camera data for display to the driver, and image processing refers to the application of analytics to extract information (for example, motion) from a video stream.
  • They must provide parallel data paths for algorithms associated with features that will run concurrently.
  • Given that many new features require megapixel image resolution, connectivity and memory bandwidth are just as critical as raw processing power.

Meeting DA Processing Platform Requirements
FPGAs are well suited to meet DA processing platform requirements. For example, in a wide-field-of-view, single-camera system that incorporates a rear cross-path warning feature, the system’s intent is to provide a distortion-corrected image of the area behind the vehicle. In addition, object-detection and motion-estimation algorithms generate an audible warning if an object is entering the projected vehicle path from the side.

Figure 3 illustrates how the camera signal is split between the video- and image-processing functions. The raw processing power needed to perform these functions can quickly exceed what is available in a serial digital signal processor (DSP). Parallel processing along with hardware acceleration is a viable solution.

Figure 3: Video and Image Processing Functions

FPGAs offer highly flexible architectures to address various processing strategies. Within the FPGA logic, it is a simple matter to split the camera signal to feed independent video- and image-processing intellectual property (IP) blocks. Unlike serial processor implementations, which must time-multiplex resources across functions, the FPGA can execute and clock processing blocks independently. Additionally, if it becomes necessary to make a change in the processing architecture, the ability of the FPGA to reprogram hardware blocks surpasses solutions based on specialized application-specific standard products (ASSPs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), giving FPGA implementations a significant advantage when anticipating the future evolution of advanced algorithms.

Another benefit of FPGA implementation is device scalability. As OEMs look to bundle more features, processing needs will rise. For example, the rear-view camera might need to host a monocular ranging algorithm to provide drivers with information on object distance. The added functionality requires yet another parallel-processing path. Implementing this in a specialized ASIC or ASSP could be problematic, if not impossible, unless the designers made provisions for such expansion ahead of time.

Attempting to add this functionality to a serial DSP could require a complete re-architecture of the software design, even after moving to a more powerful device in the family (if it is plausible at all). By contrast, an FPGA-based implementation allows the new functional block to be added, utilizing previously unused FPGA logic and leaving existing blocks virtually intact. Even if the new function requires more resources than are available in the original device, part/package combinations frequently support moving to a denser device (that is, one with more processing resources) without the need to redesign the circuit board or existing IP blocks.

Finally, the reprogrammable nature of FPGAs offers “silicon reuse” for mutually exclusive DA functions. In the rear-looking camera example, the features described are useful while a vehicle is backing up, but an FPGA-based system could leverage the same sensor and processing electronics while the vehicle is moving forward, with a feature such as blind-spot detection. In this application, the system analyzes the camera image to determine the location and relative motion of detected objects. Since this feature and its associated processing functions are not required at the same time as the backup feature, the system can reconfigure the FPGA logic within several hundred milliseconds based on the vehicle state. This allows the complete reuse of the FPGA to provide totally different functionality at very little cost.

Meeting DA External Memory Bandwidth Requirements
In addition to raw processing performance, camera-based DA applications require significant external memory access bandwidth. The most stringent requirements come from multi-camera systems with centralized processing, for example, a four-camera surround-view system. Assuming 4 megapixel imagers (1,280 x 960), 24-bit color processing, and performance of 30 frames per second (FPS), just storing the imagers in external buffers requires 3.6 Gb/s of memory access. If the images need to be simultaneously read and written, the requirement doubles to 7.2 Gb/s. With an 80 percent read/write burst efficiency, the requirement increases to 8.5 Gb/s. This estimate does not include other interim image storage or code access needs. With these requirements, it is clear that camera-based DA applications are memory bandwidth-intensive.

These systems also commonly require memory controllers; however, adding one in a cost-effective manner requires efficient system-level design. Again, developers can leverage the flexibility of the FPGA to meet this need. To summarize, FPGA memory controllers provide customized external memory interface design options to meet DA bandwidth needs and optimize all aspects of the cost equation (memory device type, number of PCB layers, etc.).

DA Image Processing Need for On-Chip Memory Resources
In addition to external memory needs, camera-based DA processing can benefit from on-chip memory that serves as line buffers for processing streaming video or analyzing blocks of image data. Bayer transform, lens distortion correction and optical-flow motion-analysis are examples of functions that require video line buffering. For a brief quantitative analysis, a Bayer transform function using 12-bit-pixel Bayer pattern intensity information to produce 24-bit color data is examined. Implemented as a raw streaming process, a bicubic interpolation process requires buffering four lines of image data. Packing the 12-bit-intensity data into 16-bit locations requires approximately 20.5 kb of storage per line, or 82 kb for four lines of data.

As part of their suite of on-chip resources, today’s FPGAs offer localized memory called Block RAM. The BRAM supports line buffer storage of image data in close proximity to fabric-based image processing cores. As FPGAs now target vision applications, the relative amount of BRAM resources has increased with each product family.

A Single All-Programmable Platform
In addition to external memory bandwidth requirements and image processing needs, having a single, all-programmable system on a chip (SoC)-based platform for DA applications offers automotive manufacturers the unique ability to address both the technical challenges and business goals in their DA designs. This type of all-programmable platform offers designers an integrated, flexible, power optimized solution with high computational performance that automotive manufacturers and their electronics suppliers can combine with their own hardware and software, available IP and design frameworks to reduce development time, bill of material (BOM) costs and risk for next-generation DA solutions.

Currently, this type of platform has only been offered as a multi-chip solution, which can require additional processing that keeps BOM costs high, and reduces flexibility options to scale between vehicle platforms. Yet automotive designers can now take advantage of the industry’s first SoC family that incorporates an ARM dual-core Cortex-A9 MPCore processing system with tightly coupled programmable logic on a single die. This combination dramatically increases performance, which is critical for processing-intensive real-time DA applications, and enable greater system integration, allowing the bundling of multiple DA application, while simultaneously reducing BOM costs by minimizing device cost and the cost of additional hardware platforms.

Automakers are eager to offer car buyers increasingly advanced DA applications, which have already proven to be quite popular in manufacturers’ high-end vehicles. By presenting new DA applications and being able to offer multiple DA applications per vehicle using an all programmable, customized solution, automakers are now given the opportunity to differentiate their vehicles from those of their competitors in a hotly contested market.


Paul Zoratti is a member of the Xilinx Automotive Team. As a senior system architect and manager of driver assistance platforms, his primary responsibility is the global application of Xilinx technology to automotive driver assistance systems. Zoratti holds master’s degrees in both electrical engineering and business administration, both from the University of Michigan. He also has a specialized graduate certification in intelligent transportation systems, also from the University of Michigan. Zoratti has been awarded 16 United States patents associated with vehicle safety technology.

How Manufacturers Can Better Utilize Data

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Jay Lee, a speaker at the marcus evans Manufacturing CXO Summit 2013, on what the manufacturing industry is missing today.

Interview with: Jay Lee, Ohio Eminent Scholar & L.W. Scott Alter Chair Professor, Univ. of Cincinnati

Las Vegas, NV, July 8, 2013 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What the manufacturing industry is missing today is the ability to convert data into meaningful information during the production process, says Jay Lee, Ohio Eminent Scholar & L.W. Scott Alter Chair Professor, Univ. of Cincinnati. “More data does not mean we can make better decisions. There is a gap between data, information and decisions. In addition, we need to see the quality of a product while the machine is still making it,” he adds.

A speaker at the marcus evans Manufacturing CXO Summit 2013, in Las Vegas, Nevada, September 16-17, Lee discusses what capabilities are missing in manufacturing today.

How is big data challenging manufacturers? How could they overcome those issues?

The amount of data we can generate from various sources is creating many opportunities, but having more data is not enough. We need tools to make better decisions with that data. Right now, a manufacturing company that cares about quality, productivity, throughput and delivery cannot easily converge data to visualize content. It needs tools to visualize product quality before it is even produced. That is what is missing today.

The data management systems most companies use today for payroll, data collection, employee benefits, procurement, customer relations, and so on, were built without any domain knowledge. These systems lack advanced analytics tools, such as advanced correlation, clustering, peer-to-peer reasoning, etc techniques. Whether the company makes automobiles or semiconductors does not change how the data is managed. These software solutions simply provide a framework for data analysis. Data analytics is different from data analysis. Data analytics is to transform data to meaning. These tools do not really exist in manufacturing.

What opportunities are underutilized in this industry?

Many manufacturers get data from devices provided by vendors, such as sensors and controllers, but do not add a robust software inside that can directly analyze the data. The industry is lacking open protocol software where manufacturers can customize their application.

What will it take to achieve this vision that you have of the manufacturing industry and how it can better utilize data?

I define it with “5 Cs”: Collection, Cloud, Content, Community and Cognition. Understanding what data to collect is the first step. Next is Cloud. We do not have to depend on a central database, as a Cloud can analyze data right away. Thirdly, when the data is converted into information, what is the Content you need to know? Doctors can run 40 different tests on a single blood sample, but manufacturers do not do that. 

Fourth, Community. We do not use experts every time, so we must share our best practices with colleagues and leverage expertise to help the younger workforce catch up. Lastly, Cognition, so when people visualize information it has meaning for them.

These are the ways in which the industry should develop a systematic way for utilizing data.

How do these impact cost?

At the tip of the iceberg we see cost as being an issue, but under the water lie all the bigger problems of waste, downtime and ineffective utilization of resources. Manufacturers must figure out the invisible evils out there without generating more data just to understand the current data. They should tackle the lower hanging fruit before considering opportunities.

Any final thoughts?

Although the manufacturing environment is always changing, the fundamentals of quality, productivity and competitiveness do not change. Manufacturers need to consider that they do not know, and continuously improve their competitiveness.
Conducted by: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager

For more information, contact: Jennifer Keljik, marketing manager
Tel: 312.540.3000 x6592


About the Manufacturing CXO Summit 2013

This unique forum will take place at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa, Las Vegas, Nevada, September 16-17, 2013. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on developing KPIs, strategic manufacturing, global supply chain, solving the skill gap, and design for manufacturability.

Please note that the Summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

About marcus evans Summits

marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, case studies, roundtables and one-on-one business meetings.


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Komodo Interface – The All-in-One Tool for CAN Development and Debugging

Sunday, July 7th, 2013
  • Do you need to record and analyze activity on a CAN bus?
  • Do you need to inject messages on to a CAN bus to test the response from other devices?
  • Do you need to run iterative simulations to debug your CAN bus?
  • Does your product integrate to an auto manufacturers CAN bus?
  • Are you tired of over-paying for CAN development and debugging tools?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, you need a reliable, effective, and affordable tool to communicate over your CAN automotive network. Total Phase provides solutions for CAN developers with the Komodo line of CAN interface tools. 

The Komodo CAN Duo Interface and the Komodo CAN Solo Interface are all-in-one tools enabling engineers to monitor data non-intrusively and actively send data messages over the CAN bus. Record a message on the CAN bus and play back instantly. Simulate a CAN device by modifying play back sessions and get testing done accurately and quickly. Passively monitor and capture data from a CAN bus in real time and interactively analyze the CAN data as it appears on the bus – filter, search, and view detailed CAN data packets. The Komodo interfaces’ real-time monitoring capabilities allow developers to detect any bugs on their CAN devices and address issues promptly.

Additionally, the Komodo interfaces feature 8 GPIO pins that may be configured for input or output. Engineers can utilize the Komodo interfaces to communicate with external logic. Total Phase also provides several software options for engineers to interact with the Komodo interfaces – the Komodo GUI Software, Data Center Software, the Komodo LabVIEW Driver, and the royalty-free API. All software is Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X compatible.

The Komodo GUI Software serves as a graphical application that gives developers easy access to the CAN functions of the Komodo interfaces. Features in the Komodo GUI Software include periodic messaging, a GPIO configuration interface, and batch mode that allows users to script CAN data patterns. The Data Center Software is Total Phase’s award-winning software for USB, I2C, SPI, and CAN data monitoring and analysis. Capture and display CAN traffic in true real time with the LiveDisplay technology, and perform interactive filtering and searching with the LiveFilter and LiveSearch tools. Data Center Software also includes the Last Packet View, which enables CAN engineers to view detailed information for the last data packet on a CAN bus.

The royalty-free API allows engineers to create custom software applications using the most popular programming languages, including C/C++, C#, VB, .NET, and Python. The API is well documented with examples provided to help get engineers started in creating their own CAN software applications. The Komodo LabVIEW Driver is a free open source driver for use with LabVIEW. All Komodo API functions are supported on the LabVIEW Driver and we provide sample CAN and GPIO applications.

Both Komodo interfaces are packed with numerous and beneficial features – Whatever needs the CAN engineer has, Total Phase provides an affordable and flexible solution for debugging and development.

Which interface should a CAN developer choose?  The Komodo CAN Duo Interface, finalist for the 2012 Best in Test Awards, features two customizable CAN channels. Configure both CAN channels to actively transmit messages or non-intrusively monitor data on the CAN bus. Engineers are capable of communicating and/or monitoring two different CAN buses using the Komodo CAN Duo Interface.

The Komodo CAN Solo Interface features one CAN channel, so developers can configure the Komodo Solo interface as either an adapter or an analyzer. For engineers who may not have a current or future need to perform simultaneous or concurrent CAN functions, the Komodo Solo interface would be an ideal tool for effective CAN programming or data analysis. 

All Total Phase tools feature 32-bit/64-bit cross-platform support for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, royalty-free API, free software updates, and free lifetime support. For more information about the Komodo interface tools, please visit our website at


Contact Information

Total Phase, Inc.

2350 Mission College Blvd
Ste 1100
Santa Clara, CA, 95054

tele: 408.850.6500
fax: 408.850.6501

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