Marvell drives automotive Ethernet development in new design center

April 28, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With ADAS and infotainment systems generating ever-increasing amounts of data, the necessity for an adequate means of transport for these data inside the car is increasing rapidly. Fabless chip vendor Marvell is betting heavily on different flavors of Gigabit Ethernet.

These days, Marvell launched a new design center for Gigabit Ethernet products in Germany. Based in Ettlingen near the south-western city of Karlsruhe, the new Automotive Center of Excellence can reached in about an hour by major German OEM customers like Daimler and Porsche as well as by French carmakers such as Peugeot. The design team of some 50 engineers will focus on the development of (Gigabit) Ethernet switches, end node SoCs (eSoCs), gateways and related software, explained Alex Tan, Director Automotive at the chipmaker.


Tan observes a technology trend from decentralized to more centralized architectures for in-vehicle processing of real-time data. “Today, most of these processing units are located close to the respective sensors”, Tan said. “But within the industry, there is a growing recognition that more centralized approaches would be more cost-effective. However, since in such an environment the sensor data would all need to travel to a central processing entity, the requirements to transport all these data in an adequate manner and timely between sensor and processing unit would become more demanding, at the same time the EMI situation would acerbate. Against this backdrop, Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet will emerge as the technology of choice, believes Tan. Particularly suited for automotive environments are two-wire variations such as the emerging 100Base-T1 and 1000Base-T1 standards. “100 Mbit/s four-wire versions are already in production; they are used preferably for connections between modules and for diagnostics data. Two-wire (or single-pair) versions are more suited for automotive applications because they contribute to lowering the weight of the cable loom”, Tan added.



Gigabit Ethernet also enables new applications such as HD video streams, be it between the infotainment system and the rear-seat video screen or between high-resolution camera and certain driver assistance systems capable of identifying objects around the vehicles. Gigabit Ethernet does not only offer a higher bandwidth, it also makes data compression dispensable in some cases. This property