NXP network chip allows new approaches in vehicle software: Page 2 of 4

January 21, 2020 //By James Morra
The S32G communication processor recently introduced by NXP manages the entire data streams between the car and the back end and is also responsible for the cybersecurity of the on-board computer environment. Our partner publication Electronic Design took a closer look at the processor.

Qualcomm, the world's largest vendor of chips used in smartphones, is also trying to swipe market share in cars. Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon Ride computer at CES 2020 to ease the engineering challenges in autonomous cars, including lane departure controls and ADAS. Texas Instruments also introduced its latest line of ADAS SoCs, which it plans to start selling by the end of 2020, as well as another chip for network gateways.

NXP, which accounts for half of all the networking connections in new cars, is trying to stay ahead of the swelling communications load in cars. NXP said that around half of all cars on the road are connected to the cloud, which along with advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, is adding to the data deluge. That includes data about road conditions, stop signs, weather and other cars, all of which is today channeled through the central gateway.

The car's communication network has long been dominated by the Controller Area Network or CAN bus. The CAN standard coordinates all the microcontrollers and electronic control units, or ECUs, that handle functions ranging from the powertrain and transmission to door locks and air conditioning. Local interconnect networks, or LINs, have also been slapped on cars over time to run communications for seat, window, mirror, and other body controls.

But as more sensors and other electronics are added to the car to enable blind spot alerts and automated emergency braking, the traditional networks have been falling behind. The FlexRay standard, which is currently the fastest at 10 Mbps, has also been struggling to slog through all the data from the cameras, radar and other sensors in the car to model its surroundings. The CAN standard has speeds of up to 1 Mbps. LIN supports up to 20 Kbps.

Car manufacturers are supplementing all the legacy networks in the car today by adding Ethernet with 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps speeds. The autonomous car of the future—which will add more cameras, radar and other sensors to model the surroundings in blinding blizzards and heavy downpours and react to dangers on the road ahead—will need Multi-Gigabit Ethernet, NXP said. New services are also worsening the communications crunch in the car.

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