IEEE adopts MIPI A-PHY for long reach SerDes

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By Nick Flaherty

The latest specification from the MIPI Alliance for long reach, high speed serial links in automotive designs has been adopted by the IEEE.

The MIPI A-PHY v1.0 specification has been adopted as IEEE 2977-2021. This is the first asymmetric, industry-standard long-reach serializer-deserializer (SerDes) physical layer interface for automotive applications.

Developments in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous driving systems (ADS) and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) have driven a significant increase in the number of cameras, sensors, displays and computing systems in vehicles. Automotive designs traditionally have relied on SerDes “bridges” to connect these devices and applications to proprietary PHYs, resulting in market fragmentation and, in turn, limited economies of scale.

The A-PHY v1.0 spec was released to MIPI members in September 2020 and enables a reach of up to 15 meters with an asymmetric data link in point-to-point or daisy-chain topologies, with high-speed unidirectional data, embedded bidirectional control data, ultra-high noise immunity and optional power delivery over a single cable.

Ongoing development of A-PHY will take place within the Alliance. MIPI A-PHY v1.1, scheduled for release by year-end, will double the downlink data rate (to 32Gbps), double the uplink data rate, and introduce options for implementing A-PHY’s lower speed gears over lower-cost legacy cables. Plans call for it to be put forward for IEEE adoption as well.

A-PHY also offers an ultra-low packet error rate of 10‑19 for unprecedented performance over the vehicle lifetime, ultra-high immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMI) effects in demanding automotive conditions and data rate as high as 16 Gbit/s, with a roadmap to 48 Gbit/s and beyond. A-PHY also serves as the foundation of the MIPI Automotive SerDes Solutions (MASS) framework, which simplifies the integration of cameras, sensors and displays across a vehicle while adding functional safety and security.

“This is the first time MIPI has sought adoption by another standards body for one of our specifications,” said Joel Huloux, chairman of MIPI Alliance. “With the approval of IEEE 2977, MIPI A-PHY becomes accessible to a broader network of system engineers beyond the MIPI membership. This promises a tremendous expansion of the ecosystem of expertise around A-PHY, which will translate into greater interoperability, vendor choice and economies of scale for the global automotive industry, as well as users of the specification from other application spaces such as the IoT (Internet of Things) and industrial.”

The process was initiated in October 2020 with the signing of an IEEE-MIPI memorandum of understanding for adoption within IEEE, in a working group was led by Rick Wietfeldt of Qualcomm Technologies as chair and Tzahi Madgar of Valens Semiconductor as vice chair.

“IEEE 2977 is a crucial addition to our portfolio of mobility standards because it delivers a new asymmetric approach to connectivity for automotive applications,” said Dr. Konstantinos Karachalios, managing director of IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA). “We look forward to our continued collaboration with MIPI and its ongoing contributions to our global stakeholders.”

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