Round Table: Why the Glove Compartment Has an Ethernet Roadmap

OEMs targeting the automotive space can look forward to more time spent on such areas of differentiation as ADAS and human interfaces. Here’s why:

The automotive industry sees Ethernet on its roadmap, and the reasons are anything but elusive. “As vehicles become more connected, the use of Ethernet as a standard only makes more sense,” Round Table panelist Eric Winder, Renesas Electronics America, told EECatalog. Fellow panelists Thorsten Hoffleit, Renesas Electronics Europe, Bob Noseworthy and Curtis Donahue of the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), Andrew Klaus, Marvell, and Alon Regev, Ixia, were similarly bullish.

  • What’s caused earlier drawbacks of Ethernet for automotive to disappear
  • Strengths gained from Ethernet technology’s role in hyper scale data centers
  • Practices supporting “absolute interoperability”
  • How actions taken by the companies represented on our panel as well as groups such as the OPEN Alliance are helping future proof Automotive Ethernet
Curtis Donahue, UNH-IOL

Curtis Donahue, UNH-IOL

Thorsten Hoffleit, Renesas Electronics

Thorsten Hoffleit, Renesas Electronics

Andrew Klaus, Marvell

Andrew Klaus, Marvell

Bob Noseworthy, UNH-IOL

Bob Noseworthy, UNH-IOL

Alon Regev, Ixia

Alon Regev, Ixia

Eric Winder, Renesas Electronics

Eric Winder, Renesas Electronics

EECatalog: Why is Ethernet is the technology of choice for supporting high data rates and flexibility in our vehicles?

Alon Regev, Ixia: Its ability to scale to meet bandwidth demand while maintaining the same underlying formats and protocols has made Ethernet the technology of choice for the data center, where high data rates are a requirement. For handling high data rates in cars, Ethernet is less expensive and uses higher bandwidths than competing technologies such as Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) and FlexRay. Ethernet also has a large base of available hardware and software support, so developing automotive control units (ECUs) using Ethernet is easier, reducing time to market.

Eric Winder and Thorsten Hoffleit, Renesas Electronics: Two developments have helped overcome the past weaknesses of the technology as it applies to the automotive space: the evolution and expansion of the IEEE standards over the past decade and the creation of a lower cost physical layer that meets automotive requirements for EMC, cabling, and connector costs. Ethernet’s high bit rates, frame length flexibility, and support for prioritization, as well as time synchronization for media streams and control loops, are key. The capabilities can be scaled to the application. In addition, the massive ecosystem that has grown up around the use of Ethernet in the industrial and IT sectors simplifies introduction into the automotive space. As vehicles become more connected, the use of Ethernet as a standard only makes more sense, as communication among ECUs and between the vehicle and the cloud can become seamless. What’s more, cloud services can become a transparent extension of vehicle features and functionality.

Curtis Donahue and Bob Noseworthy, University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL): For nearly 30 years, the UNH InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL) has provided neutral third-party testing and reporting for open standards based networking technologies. During that period, we have served the Ethernet industry with impartial validation of conformance and interoperability for all Ethernet speeds from 10Mbps, to 100+Gbps, Power over Ethernet, including the recent Power over Data Lines (PoDL) and one-pair Ethernet technologies, such as BroadR, 100BASE-T1 and 1000BASE-T1. Low-cost cabling, high data rates, and power delivery have brought benefits to the enterprise, consumer and telecom space, and will certainly have similar impacts in the automotive and industrial spaces.

Over our three decades of experience, we’ve found the most successful technologies are those with open, well-defined standards, such as those defined by IEEE 802, with implementations from multiple sources serving broad markets. The solutions driving Automotive Ethernet fit this description.

Andrew Klaus, Marvell: Ethernet IP has the benefits of being a pervasive protocol stack that is used in a very large proportion of service-oriented middleware, with an already vetted security framework in place (due to use by Wall Street banks and in hyper scale datacenters). And Ethernet’s speed grades are scalable to address emerging multi-Gigabit needs.

Since Ethernet is an IEEE standard (802.3 for Layer 1 and 802.1 for Layer 2), multiple component vendors can create interoperable chipsets. Certification houses ensure that compatibility and interoperability are adhered to. The IEEE is working on next generation standards for even higher data rates (currently this activity is centered on 10Gbps, and in the future these speeds could go higher still). This means that Ethernet is future-proofed within an automotive context for a long time to come.

Modern automobiles have an increasing number of applications requiring higher degrees of complexity, greater bandwidth, and robust, reliable networks. It is already accepted that legacy proprietary communication protocols in the automotive sector, such as controller area network (CAN), FlexRay, media oriented system transport (MOST) and local interconnect networking (LIN) simply have no roadmap to support the higher speeds required. Other technologies have been proposed to address these needs (like USB, A2B, µAFDX, HDBaseT, CML Coax, etc.), but none is capable of becoming a truly pervasive technology to enable implementation of complete IP networks in automobiles. Ethernet is the prime candidate for supporting both high data rates and flexibility in next generation vehicles.

EECatalog: How is work at the Ethernet Alliance and in technical standardization committees such as the OPEN Alliance SIG, ISO 15118, DIN 70121, and AUTOSAR advancing the cause of improved in-vehicle connectivity?

Hoffleit and Winder, Renesas Electronics: Standardization is key in automotive, from hardware interfaces to communication protocols and software interfaces. The OPEN Alliance efforts have resulted in standards that meet both the cost and performance requirements for automotive Ethernet and define use-cases and profiles specific to the automotive industry. As the OPEN Alliance is almost entirely driven by the automotive industry, the solutions that come from the alliance are tailored to deliver optimal solutions for the industry.

AUTOSAR provides the software architecture and component building blocks to create vehicle-distributed features and abstract the application interfaces. With the advent of the Adaptive Platform, AUTOSAR now scales from microcontrollers (MCUs) up to high-end system on chip (SoC) devices, and the framework is in place to support dynamic communication—one of the keys to managing the system complexity. This draws on mature concepts that are already widely deployed on Ethernet networks in other sectors.
For common connectivity solutions to succeed, there must be absolute interoperability between devices from different vendors and vehicles from different manufacturers. Efforts like vehicle-to-grid communication standardization (ISO15118) and conformance specifications developed by the OPEN Alliance prevent a proliferation of custom, siloed solutions, which hinder wider adoption.

Donahue and Noseworthy, UNH-IOL: Standards bodies and Special Interest Groups involved with the automotive space are quickly adopting the emerging Automotive Ethernet technologies, particularly IEEE 802.3 100BASE-T1 and 1000BASE-T1 PHYs, and IEEE 802.1 TSN. Some organizations are creating entirely new conformance test specifications to speed up the industry adoption of recognized test methodologies, which helps advance adoption of these technologies. The UNH-IOL has been involved as much as possible in these efforts, aiding in the development of such test specifications. Specifically, we have authored and edited 6 test plans, and contributed to several others, for the PHY conformance technical committees within the OPEN Alliance.

A neutral third-party in conformance and interoperability testing, UNH-IOL hosts several multi-vendor test events, commonly referred to as plugfests, for automotive-related Ethernet standards. The events offer an open environment to promote vetting of any issues that may not be expected but could be observed in the field. The anonymized data collected from these events has also been used as part of technical presentations in standards organizations to help resolve debates.

Andrew Klaus, Marvell: Marvell continues to work with the IEEE to help standardize further developments in Ethernet technology, including Ethernet for automotive applications. The Ethernet Alliance is closely aligned to the work undertaken by the IEEE. Marvell led the way in standardizing the automotive 1Gbps specification 1000BASE-T1, and was the first to introduce products supporting it. We are now working alongside the IEEE on next generation standards.

ISO has taken the IEEE automotive specifications and published its own standards (such as ISO/AWI 21111), but the underlying details are in accordance with the IEEE. Marvell recently joined to OPEN Alliance SIG in order to further advance the cause of automotive Ethernet. The alliance takes the IEEE 802.3 and 802.1 related automotive Ethernet specifications and creates a larger ecosystem of interoperable and compliant products by defining how to build cables, connectors and related peripheral components, such as common mode chokes, etc.

Regev, Ixia: The standardization effort allows software, semiconductor, board, and system vendors to create standard solutions that can be reused in many vehicles, reducing development costs. This allows OEMs to spend less time and money on developing basic communication infrastructure and instead focus on core areas where they can truly differentiate such as the vehicle design, advanced driver assist, autonomous driving technologies, and human interfaces. These standards also make the vehicles safer by incorporating security and reliability into them. Ethernet is a new technology for automotive applications, so proper validation is key for adoption of the technology into the new market. The forums like AUTOSAR and OPEN Alliance work on defining the acceptance test criteria for qualification of an Ethernet-enabled ECU. Ixia has contributed a major part of these acceptance test cases leveraging 20 years of experience with Ethernet-based technologies.

EECatalog: How are you addressing Time Sensitive Networking (evolved from Audio Video Bridging) timing and other time-synchronized low latency streaming challenges, and what misconceptions need to be cleared up?

Donahue and Noseworthy, UNH-IOL: The UNH-IOL has been developing AVB/Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) testing solutions for the past seven years, building on our nearly 30 years of Ethernet knowledge and capabilities. The UNH-IOL, on behalf of the Avnu Alliance, has developed the Avnu Certification Test Plans for AVB and Automotive TSN devices. Today, those interested in comprehensive TSN conformance and interoperability testing can engage with us for in-house test solutions, as well as third-party neutral validation of AVB/TSN technologies. We also provide Certification testing for the Avnu Alliance’s programs.

Of numerous misconceptions to address, AVB technology is better described today as Time Sensitive Networking (TSN), as there is no dependency on the type of data conveyed in a time-sensitive stream, be it control information, A/V data, real-time sensor data, etc. Tooling is available today for current and emerging AVB/TSN standards, including Ethernet Pre-emption conformance validation.

Klaus, Marvell: TSN can effectively be considered as second generation AVB, as it adds more features and functionality—with increased reliability, greater support for redundancy, superior security features, and improved latency performance. Next generation TSN is currently being defined by the IEEE.

The Avnu Alliance has created a subset of the TSN standard specifically for automotive applications, AutoCDS. Version 1.4 is available today. Marvell’s recently announced 88Q5050 switch supports the AutoCDS version 1.4 standard. Avnu is working on an expanded specification to include features that automobile OEMs and their tier 1 partners demand.

Regev, Ixia: The biggest misconception is that Ethernet cannot be used for time-sensitive and safety-critical applications. Using technologies such as AVB/TSN, it has been shown that systems can be built that are more reliable than existing in-vehicle systems and have known, low worst-case latencies. One of the big challenges is that it has traditionally been very hard to validate AVB implementations. Ixia has solved this problem by providing the industry’s most comprehensive test systems for validating automotive ECUs incorporating Ethernet, TCP/IP, AVB, and TSN.

Hoffleit and Winder, Renesas Electronics: A crucial question to be answered with any technology is this: “How much support should be provided in hardware?” Hardware support can reduce software complexity, latency, and communication jitter, but software provides greater flexibility. Renesas provides dedicated support for generalized Precision Time Protocol (gPTP) in the Ethernet Media Access Control (MAC), with a high-resolution timer that can be used to timestamp incoming or outgoing frames and synchronize software tasks. Support is also included in the queues for prioritization and credit-based traffic shaping, and presentation time notification. These features can be difficult to implement in an efficient, robust way in software.

TSN standards are continuing to evolve, and support is also being developed and proven out in new hardware designs for such features as frame pre-emption. This feature in particular is not backward compatible to classic Ethernet behavior, but this is not so much of an issue in the highly engineered networks being implemented in vehicles.

EECatalog: How do you see Ethernet’s strengths and weaknesses with regard to assuring that network architecture is scalable?
Klaus, Marvell: With next generation automotive switches, such as the Marvell 88Q5050 just mentioned, Gigabit ports will provision for backbone connections in the vehicle that facilitate scaling up to more ports and faster speeds. The development of 10Gbps and faster connections means that there is a well-defined roadmap for Ethernet to scale to higher speeds for years to come.

Regev, Ixia:
Ethernet’s strength is that it’s very scalable. The IEEE 802.3 working group is working on standards to expand Automotive Ethernet from its current 1G and 100M varieties to also include 10G (10 times the bandwidth in a twisted pair) as well as 5G, 2.5G, and 10M varieties. It’s fairly easy to scale bandwidth and latency up or down and to add devices by incorporating an ECU with an integrated switch for daisy chaining additional ECUs.

Hoffleit and Winder, Renesas Electronics: Ethernet’s switched nature and the low overhead of longer frames improve link utilization and device processor loading over legacy bus technologies. Adding new endpoints on Ethernet does not necessarily impact other network nodes, as network traffic on any endpoint link will be limited to traffic destined for that endpoint, though care must be taken not to overload shared links.
Bus architectures, on the other hand, create broadcast domains that provide implicit functional scalability: all new nodes attached to a bus have access to the data already present on the bus, without changing the behavior of the nodes that source that data or loading them further. With Ethernet, a switch from unicast to multicast or broadcast can provide similar behavior. In addition, publish/subscribe messaging can allow dynamic configuration of the data streams. However, both of these mechanisms require forethought and planning to ensure long-term scalability without system-level changes.
Care must also be taken to ensure that network segmentation is not compromised, since the physical separation and static gateway routing configurations between legacy vehicle buses cannot be relied upon as security measures in the same way they were in the past, as vehicle network communication becomes more dynamic.
Donahue and Noseworthy, UNH-IOL: The application of Ethernet technologies in broad markets further drives down costs and increases availability and diversity of solutions. A proprietary solution customized for a niche application will never benefit from a technological suite of solutions serving broad industries such as Automotive, Industrial, Telecom, Power, Consumer—all touched by Ethernet and TSN today.
Ethernet rates from 10Mbps to 100+Gbps exist today, with no end in sight to the diversity of speeds and environments, e.g., noise-robust one pair solutions. Low-cost switching solutions make switching from various speeds possible, enabling TSN protocols and a gateway to other technologies (WiFi, CAN, LIN, etc.). These low-cost, low data rate spaces such as solutions demanding a wireless link, or existing (or future) components are better served by a very low-cost LIN control than a direct Ethernet connected control with its incremental cost increase. Ethernet’s benefit will remain in a lower cost vehicle wide redundant cabling solution, with strategically placed ‘gateway’ devices to switch to CAN/LIN/WiFi etc.

How are your company’s solutions advancing wide-scale adoption of Ethernet-based automotive connectivity?

Hoffleit and Winder, Renesas Electronics: Renesas Electronics provides common Ethernet solutions that scale from the MCUs used in body electronics, chassis, and powertrain applications up to high-end SoC devices used in infotainment, connectivity, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomy applications. With AUTOSAR support for Classic Platform implementations on the lower end, to Adaptive Platform and other custom solutions on the upper end, there is a solution available for almost every use case. Renesas participates in and supports the efforts of the IEEE802.1 TSN working group, Avnu, the OPEN Alliance tech committees and steering committee, and several ISO working groups dealing with Ethernet, as well as software standardization in AUTOSAR and the GENIVI Alliance. We maintain close contact with customers to understand the use cases and end applications, and we leverage our expertise to create solutions that evaluate and prove out still-evolving standards. This feedback loop provides the necessary insights to refine solutions and strike the correct balance between hardware and software support.
Klaus, Marvell: Marvell is recognized as having the most extensive portfolio of Ethernet products in the industry, covering 100Mbps to 1Gbps standalone PHY transceivers right through to switches that have multiple PHYs integrated. Our PHYs and switches are implemented onto advanced silicon processes to enable low power consumption and cost-effective fabrication. These products support industry standard MAC interfaces (such as MII, RGMII and SGMII) so as to allow seamless integration with the sophisticated SoC devices now being incorporated into automotive designs. As a company, we are committed to adopting standards-based technology to enable industry-wide interoperable solutions.
Donahue and Noseworthy, UNH-IOL: The UNH-IOL has offered interoperability and conformance test services for several technologies and industries, from layer 1 and up, for nearly 30 years. All of which are offered to promote faster product development cycles and therefore quicker industry adoption.
Our Ethernet interoperability test services allow an Ethernet solution in any stage of development, silicon vendor development board to fully integrated/assembled system, to test against a truly one of a kind testbed of same technology products. This testbed has grown since the UNH-IOL’s founding, so the products within it range from companies that no longer exist (because of industry acquisitions) to more recent competing solutions. This allows vendors to discover interoperability issues that could be observed by nearly any piece of network equipment in their customer’s closet, old or new.
We are the only test house that offers 100BASE-T1 electrical conformance testing (Physical Medium Attachment [PMA]) and logical conformance testing (Physical Coding Sublayer [PCS], PHY). There are several test & measurement (T&M) vendors that offer similar electrical conformance solutions to the UNH-IOL services, but because of varying specialties from T&M vendors it’s extremely difficult to find a single solution that tests for PHY transmitter and receiver (bit error ratio) requirements. The UNH-IOL PMA test service offers both, and is commonly used as an industry standard for T&M vendors to test and correlate results to. While T&M vendors offer solutions to characterize some of the PMA requirements of an Automotive Ethernet PHY, ECU vendors cannot simply purchase a PCS/PHY Control test tool from their test and measurement partner. Such testing would require a unique tool designed to each PHY type that is to be validated. To truly characterize the conformance of a PHYs PCS/PHY Control it is critical to use a tool with added flexibility that an off-the-shelf PHY generally will not offer. We offer such a custom tool that allows for bit-level manipulation of a data stream that can intentionally elicit a specific response from the PHY under test, stressing the internal state machine of the PHY to accurately test all state conditions and transitions.

Regev, Ixia: Ixia has developed the industry’s most comprehensive Automotive Ethernet, Automotive stack, AVB, and TSN test solutions. The solutions include conformance, performance, reliability, and security testing. Leading car manufacturers use these test solutions as do test houses and Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive vendors to ensure the quality, reliability, security, and usability of in-vehicle networking systems. Ixia is also promoting and contributing to standards development with the OPEN Alliance, IEEE, AUTOSAR, and Avnu Alliance.

Curtis Donahue is the Backplane Ethernet Consortium and Automotive Ethernet Consortium Manager at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL).
Thorsten Hoffleit is a Manager in the Automotive Networking Competence Center at Renesas Electronics Europe.
Andrew Klaus is Director of Automotive Business Development & Architecture, Marvell.
Bob Noseworthy is a Chief Engineer, University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL).
Alon Regev is Sr. Director, Product Development, Ixia.
Eric Winder is Principal Engineer, Networking and Connectivity Solutions, Renesas Electronics America.

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