Ethernet is expanding its utilization beyond computer network applications and now officially occupies automobile network architectures with IEEE’s approval of the 802.3bw standard. The 802.3bw standard specifies “100BASE-T1 – 100 Mbit/s Ethernet over a single twisted pair for automobile applications”.
Ethernet Reduces Weight And Cost
The new standard will allow for the replacement of low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) cabling with single unshielded twisted pair and will result in a 30% weight reduction and in an 80% cost reduction. LDVS cables are not only more expensive and heavier, but they also do not allow for a consolidated network architecture like Ethernet. Each device requires its own copper cabling that connects to one or more microcontroller units (MCU), which sit at the heart of each electronic system.” According to theinstitute.ieee.org, about 50 MCUs are found in mid-priced cars…This cabling- makes up the third heaviest and costliest component in a car, right behind the chassis and engine.” The new standard will allow for the replacement of LVDS cables with Ethernet due to its simplicity.
Ethernet Will Create a Centralized “Brain”
With Ethernet, automobile manufacturers will be able to build an interconnected network architecture that will connect automobile applications such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) safety mechanics and other infotainment devices and services into a centralized brain. This will eliminate the need for independent microcontroller units (MCUs). With an Ethernet-powered network, automobile devices will have their own IP addresses and rely on a gateway to gain access to the internet. Ian Riches, director of global automotive practice at Strategy Analysis estimates that “in 2020 around 120 million Ethernet nodes will be fitted to light vehicles produced that year.”
Steve Carlson of High Speed Design, Inc., chaired the final phase of the IEEE P802.3bw standard and relates that the new standard “Will simplify the cumbersome, heavy and complicated wiring harnesses in use today, while providing high data rates.” Ethernet will be able to bring multi-vendor compatible by using the common networking language of IP.
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