Automotive Ethernet promises to both reduce the cable weight used in cars today and offer increase bandwidth compared with existing MOST-based designs. At the forefront of the interoperability testing is UNH’s InterOperability Lab (IOL).

Automotive Ethernet Conformance and Interoperability Testing

David Estes | UNH-IOL

Can you give us a brief overview of automotive Ethernet?

Automotive Ethernet is the use of Ethernet technology within the vehicle to connect systems that require a higher bandwidth than what is currently available.  The standard Ethernet frame format and point-to-point topology is preserved.  Automotive Ethernet can enable more advanced safety systems (such as cameras, collision avoidance systems, or even automated driving) and more features for infotainment.  Saving weight on the wiring harness by using only one pair will help to increase performance and fuel efficiency.  In addition, several low bandwidth signal paths can be combined over one Ethernet link to reduce cabling weight even further.

When do you think we will see cars containing automotive Ethernet?

Production is planned to begin in 2013. The first application will be a rearview camera.

Describe the UNH-IOL.

The UNH-IOL tests networking and data communications products.  We were founded in 1988 to foster mutli-vendor interoperability while preparing students for careers in the industry.  The laboratory has grown steadily into one of the industry's premier independent proving grounds for new technologies.

The UNH-IOL maintains a strong reputation for independent, vendor-neutral testing with a focus on quality assurance rather than marketing or promotional goals. The confidential test reports the UNH-IOL provides to its members are recognized throughout the data communications industry as evidence of interoperability and conformance to technical standards.

This testing is conducted in the laboratory's 32,000+ square foot facility, which houses a multi-million dollar array of test equipment and the latest devices from member companies.

The UNH-IOL is the only full-scale, non-profit test lab in the world that balances industry expertise with the real-world training of future engineers.

More than 100 graduate and undergraduate student employees work with full-time UNH-IOL staff, gaining hands-on experience with developing technologies and products. The companies and organizations that work with the UNH-IOL benefit from cost-effective testing services, as well as the opportunity to recruit future engineers from the UNH-IOL workforce.

How are the UNH-IOL and the OPEN Alliance working together to rev up the evolution of the connected car in the new UNH-IOL Automotive Ethernet Consortium?

The UNH-IOL is working directly with the OPEN Alliance to define the test specifications for BroadR-Reach devices.  Independently, the laboratory is creating the test systems that are needed to perform the test specifications.  These activities are allowing automotive manufacturers to bring BroadR-Reach capable devices into production quickly and with confidence that they will work in the vehicle.

What is the BroadR-Reach standard?

BroadR-Reach is a new physical layer standard for 100Mb/s Ethernet operating bidirectionally over a single unshielded twisted pair.  It was created by Broadcom and adopted by the OPEN Alliance.

Why is the BroadR-Reach standard important for automobile manufacturers and parts suppliers?

BroadR-Reach is important because it meets the bandwidth needs and the EMC requirements of the automotive industry while operating over a single unshielded twisted pair.  Using only one pair reduces the wiring cost in the vehicle and saves weight, which leads to increased performance.

What does the BroadR-Reach standard mean for consumers?

End consumers will notice the effects of BroadR-Reach because they will have access to more advanced safety systems (such as cameras, collision avoidance systems, or even automated driving) and more features for infotainment.  Saving weight on the wiring harness will help to increase vehicle performance and fuel efficiency. 

Can you describe the type of testing currently being performed in the UNH-IOL Automotive Ethernet Consortium?

We have performed Physical Media Attachment (PMA) testing which examines the electrical characteristics of the signals transmitted by the BroadR-Reach devices.  Future testing includes interoperability, Physical Coding Sublayer (PCS), PHY Control, and Media Access Control (MAC).

What are the benefits of membership in the UNH-IOL Automotive Ethernet Consortium to semiconductor companies?

Our member companies will get access to our conformance testing and our interoperability testing throughout the year, allowing them to bring their products to market faster. Membership in the UNH-IOL can be viewed as an extension of in-house testing and Quality Assurance.

How many members and contributors are there?

We currently have three founding members and two contributing members.

How will the lab continue to collaborate with the OPEN Alliance as the BroadR-Reach standard progresses?

We will continue working with the OPEN Alliance to ensure that we are meeting their testing requirements for BroadR-Reach and the upcoming Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet (RTPGE) standard that is currently in the study group phase for the IEEE 802.3 working group.

What factors contributed to the OPEN Alliance’s endorsement of the UNH-IOL as the first laboratory to test the BroadR-Reach standard?

The UNH-IOL has been conducting Ethernet testing for nearly 25 years.  The laboratory operates one of the world’s most comprehensive test beds.  Our experience and expertise allowed us to quickly develop the testing services needed to prove that BroadR-Reach was a viable solution for in-car networking.


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