Mobile video streaming drives demand for networking semiconductors in cars

April 08, 2013 // By Julien Happich
Consumers increasingly want to use their media tablets and smartphones to stream high-definition video to displays in their cars, a phenomenon that will help to nearly double the size of the market for semiconductors used in automotive wired and wireless network applications from 2011 to 2018.

Revenue in 2018 for semiconductors used for in-vehicle connectivity and networking is forecast to reach $841.8 million, up from $438.8 million in 2011, according to an IHS Automotive Infotainment Market Tracker Report from information and analytics provider IHS. The market this year is expected to rise to $585.4 million, up from $545.1 million last year. The segment takes a big jump to $663.4 million next year, followed by two years of revenue in the $700 million range and then clearing the $800 million mark in 2017, as shown in the attached figure.

“The need for audio and video data streaming inside motor vehicles is real and represents a significant growth opportunity for semiconductor suppliers,” said Luca DeAmbroggi, senior analyst for automotive infotainment at IHS. “Consumers are expressing a greater desire to watch content from mobile gadgets like handsets and tablets on vehicle displays including DVD players, rear-seat entertainment panels and navigation units. Meanwhile, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) of both cars and vehicle infotainment systems also are promoting such functionality for pure entertainment as well as for safety purposes, such as when vehicle displays show traffic.”

Other driving forces for semiconductor in-vehicle connectivity and networking include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and safety applications, as well as headunit and entertainment systems embedded in the vehicle.

Heavy traffic for car video systems

The amount of video that can be streamed to the car's display units could be extensive, requiring careful design of the entire video interface architecture to allow seamless transmission. Moreover, several considerations could affect the video link requirements for bandwidth and security, including digital content protection, the quality of the video and audio streams, and the real-time video-processing capabilities of equipment. Whether wired or wireless technology is chosen for in-car connectivity will depend on cost, long-term semiconductor support from suppliers, readiness for integration within the vehicle, and issues related to performance and quality.

Getting on the wireless superhighway

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