NXP buys IP company to bolster in-car networking

September 04, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
After the failed merger with Qualcomm, chipmaker NXP throws the switches for the future: The Dutch semiconductor manufacturer has announced to acquire OmniPHY, a California-based mixed signal semiconductor IP company with significant expertise in Ethernet technology. NXP intends to apply this IP in the markets for future high-bandwidth, in-car networks. At the opportunity of the announcement, NXP top executive Toni Versluijs gave a little insight into NXP's future plans – albeit only for the very near future.

The primary rationale in buying OmniPHY was its technology expertise and market position in the field of high-speed Ethernet for automotive applications – the Californians are said to be a pioneer in this field; its product portfolio includes 15 IP Ethernet IP families including the 100Base-T1 and 1000Base-T1 standards. Since autonomous driving will require massive data communications among a vast array of sensors and processing units inside the car, powerful network systems will be indispensable for the implementation of vehicles driving at level 4 or 5 of the autonomy scale. According to Toni Versluijs, Managing Director, NXP Semiconductors, one can expect bandwidth requirements exceeding 1 Gigabit per second for such networks – and, thanks to OmniPHY, NXP will be able to deliver. “We clearly see 100Base-T1 and 1000Base-T1 as the next wave, but in the foreseeable future the demand will exceed this mark,” Versluijs said. “There are several solutions out there, many developments are going on at entities like IEEE or MIPI alliance”.

Current plans for next-gen vehicles call for eight or more cameras, high-resolution radar, lidar and V2X communications. All of these features generate high amounts of data; today’s in-car networks including CAN FD, Flexray and the like are therefore facing steep challenges. Solutions are expected to come from OmniPHY with technology synergies focusing on 1.25-28 Gbps PHY designs; for less demanding applications in the car, he company also offers 10 and 100 Mbit Ethernet IP – for these bandwidth levels however, the company has IP for rather advanced semiconductor processes. And while OmniPhy’s focus is on automotive applications, they also have broader experience, Versluijs explained. Which will enable NXP to strengthen its competitiveness also in industrial and potentially consumer markets.


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