Implementing MOSTCO’s Roadmap

Implementing MOSTCO’s Roadmap

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Promote MOST for global deployment

As of today, MOST Technology has been deployed in almost 200 car models worldwide and more than 200 million nodes have been installed at OEMs. In the past 12 months, many more car models were released to the market and Microchip’s annual shipment rate of INIC has continuously grown. The majority of the production volume moved from MOST25 to MOST50. Volume car makers GM and Toyota are driving the growth of MOST50 Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) quantity. MOST150 continues to grow, fueled by the migration from MOST25 optical to MOST150 optical at Audi, Daimler and Volvo. New carmakers have evaluated MOST50 UTP as well as MOST150 cPhy (coaxial cable). One new major OEM adopting MOST150 coax is slated for production in 2016, with more production starts are expected to follow throughout 2018 and at another OEM. MOST50 UTP continues to grow in volume both through additional models from existing users, new OEM adopters and new application use cases. MOST Cooperation Steering Committee, namely Audi, BMW, Daimler, Harman and Microchip Technology have supported a series of events in Europe and Asia. Several other MOST Cooperation OEM members like GM, Hyundai Kia Motor Company, Toyota and Volvo Cars assist MOST Technology global deployment through their contributions in events, PR and press releases, thus enabling about 20 Microchip Technology news releases since the previous MOST Forum in April 2015.

Hanser Automotive recently published the results of a survey conducted among car manufacturers, Tier1s and semiconductor vendors in 2015. OEMs rated standardization and multivendor support as most important for the deployment of an in-vehicle network technology. MOST Cooperation has successfully established MOST as the de facto standard for infotainment networking since its introduction in 2001. Further steps to accomplish wider proliferation have been initiated. In 2014, Microchip made MOST150 DLL specification available under RAND conditions, thus conforming to the prerequisites of multivendor support. Improved conditions for global deployment and a multivendor landscape are available once MOST specifications’ move to ISO is completed. Microchip assists the MOST Cooperation in paving the way to make MOST an ISO standard.


Maintain and sustain the existing technology MOST25/50/150

Microchip supports MOST25 as it continues rolling out in new car models. Major efforts expanding the INIC product portfolio have gone into 50Mbps and 150Mbps speed grades. While on the one hand continuous improvement in manufacturing is ongoing to deliver the committed year-over-year productivity for existing INICs, new products are under development which offer significant system cost reduction potential on the other hand, in the future. The ability of customers to optimize system costs will come multifaceted. For example, pin-compatible interface products will be manufactured in more efficient semiconductor technology. In addition, new INICs will be more specifically tailored for the application use case. The successful introduction of USB in the OS81118/OS81119 MOST150 INICs encourages the proliferation of this interface technology to other INIC products. USB interfaces are available on a broad range of infotainment, communication and driver-assist SOCs, allowing the customers to choose the most appropriate one for the intended use case. Other industry standard interfaces like PCI and xMII are under consideration for future products.

Fig.1: Application Specific MOST Network Interface IC Solutions


Drive cost reduction measures

Automotive technology analysts and automotive network reports often show MOST as an expensive networking solution. The reference points for these statements are MOST25 optical and MOST150 optical. What are the contributing factors? A closer look reveals that the lion’s share of the costs is associated with wiring harness, the FOT and the connector costs; external components required to meet emissions and robustness specifications, SOC and software add additional factors.

In an optical MOST150 solution, about two-thirds of the networking costs are related to connector, POF, FOT and cable. An optical MOST solution seems expensive. However, it delivers an unrivaled emissions and robustness performance, as has been proven more than 100 million times in the market. Nevertheless, customers have asked for more options to address this topic. With the acquisition of EqcoLogic, Microchip acquired crucial coaxial technology. In 2014, Microchip introduced the MOST150 coaxial transceiver OS82150.  This coaxial transceiver offers an exciting new option allowing customers to implement efficient infotainment networks, and to easily migrate from optical to coaxial cabling. The design-in of the OS82150 is straightforward, and total system costs are optimized. By seamlessly interfacing with MOST150 INICs, such as OS81110, the OS82150 can be easily integrated into existing designs. Customers benefit from a circa 15 percent cost reduction while keeping system redesign efforts low. Further networking system cost reduction is achieved by using the highly integrated OS81118AF, which includes the coaxial transceiver on-chip. With the migration of the network architecture from dual simplex to full duplex, a close to 40% cost reduction can be achieved, in comparison to the optical system, cutting the “cost in half”.

Fig. 2: Impact of Harness and Architecture
on MOST150 Network Costs

Beyond these aspects, MOST Cooperation and Microchip have carefully analyzed customers’ current and future MOST use cases. One outcome is that a streamlined software architecture will not only help customers to develop MOST systems faster but also enable a unified and centralized software stack (UNICENS) approach, to further optimize the customer’s system costs significantly.  

UNICENS is a new approach to configure and control a MOST network including the connections from one centralized software stack. The configuration of the parameters and the connections of a MOST network are done at design time and stored in a configuration file (system descriptor). The centralized software stack uses the information in the configuration file to generate all connections in the MOST network, in the local INIC and configures all the other INICs in the network remotely over MOST. UNICENS supports remote control functionality.  The remote control feature is a new feature that has been added to the MOST specification. It allows the reduction of the software stack, which typically demands the use of microcontrollers and memory in peripheral nodes such as cameras, displays, amplifiers and microphones. For example, the remote control feature supports a control port that implements an I2C bus master. The I2C bus master manages, reads and writes to the microphone. The I2C reads and writes are remotely handled through the MOST control channel. Also, GPIOs are remotely handled through the MOST control channel. GPIO events are automatically reported over the MOST network. Existing processing power in the main ECU is used to run the controlling software for all remote controlled nodes. Centralizing all controlling software in the main ECU simplifies the development process considerably, as only one software instance needs to be developed and deployed. Therefore, only the software stack in the central node requires knowledge of MOST; no other MOST node requires this knowledge. The developer is not required to know as much in order to create a MOST network; the developer only has to configure the system descriptor. This kind of device architecture helps to optimize system partitioning, board space and even power dissipation in the remote device. Therefore, memory and an additional microcontroller are not required to run the application. In comparison to Ethernet, this is a major benefit. Microphones and amplifiers demonstrate this very well. UNICENS is not intended to replace MOST NetServices, but is an option enabling customers to develop devices and design a networked system much faster. MOST NetServices continues to coexist with UNICENS. In 2015, the UNICENS approach was validated, developing a proof-of-concept infotainment system in about three months for an European car maker in close collaboration with two tier1s and Microchip.

Fig. 3: Centralized Network Management


Simplification of MOST system development was introduced in previous MOST Forums and at Interconnectivity Asia Conference, such as the MOST ToGo three-node-reference design for MOST50 and MOST150 speed grades. Additional options simplifying the design are available now. A number of plug-and-play hardware demonstration devices are available utilizing the UNICENS software concept. They encapsulate MOST specific functions and central configuration. “Slim devices” have no MOST-specific software; some operate even without an application microcontroller. In an available Microchip demonstration system, the MOST Ethernet Packet Channel is used for device control over IP. The use of the Linux device drivers make MOST channels look like Ethernet ports or audio devices. For the physical layer, frontend reference designs have been devised which meet OEMs’ emissions and immunity requirements. They are available for MOST50 UTP and MOST150 coax.

Focus on roll out of MOST150

The deployment and roll out of MOST150 optical runs smoothly at Audi, Daimler, Kia and Volvo. New car flagship models were released to the market, such as Audi’s A4, Daimler’s E-class, Kia’s K900 and Volvo’s XC90. Further deployment of MOST150 optical in new models is ongoing.

In order to facilitate the introduction of MOST150 coaxial in the market, MOST150 cPhy Measurement Guideline and MOST150 cPhy Compliance Verification Procedure-Physical Layer were released in 2015. This was achieved in a MOST Cooperation working group, chaired by Honda and with contributions from Daimler, TE Connectivity and Microchip. Microchip released an EMC reference design compliant with the MOST cPhy Physical Layer Specification in 2015. This reference design features OS82150, OS81110, OS85650 and MPM85000.  To further enable development and accelerate time to market, the OS82150 is supported by K2L’s OS81110 cPhy Evaluation Board and K2L’s OptoLyzer® MOCCA Bundles. The OS81110 cPhy Evaluation Board encapsulates an entire MOST150 network device. An integrated OS85650 I/O Companion Chip provides I/O port expansion for additional application flexibility. The OptoLyzer MOCCA Bundle combines the capabilities of the popular OptoLyzer Suite graphical user interface with the advantages of the OptoLyzer MOCCA multi-bus hardware interface. The first car model with MOST150 cPhy dual simplex in a multi-node infotainment system is on track for production in 2016. The first adopter of MOST150 cPHY full duplex in an infotainment network starts production in few years. Evaluation of MOST150 cPhy at additional car makers in Europe and Asia is currently ongoing. Microchip performs complete system test and validation, works directly with customers to improve system and EMC performance, offering schematics and layout reviews (MOSTCheck) and EMC debugging.

Cooperate with other organizations to accelerate standardization and growth

MOST Cooperation as a standardization body has been instrumental for the success of MOST Technology. However, cooperation with other automotive, industrial and consumer bodies is required to achieve wider acceptance in the market. Users of MOST Technology will benefit from wider acceptance as this would yield in faster time-to-market, higher quality and larger volumes, hence in an even more competitive MOST Technology solution.

In 2015, MOST Cooperation presented the integration of AUTOSAR within the MOST network. A MOST/AUTOSAR gateway demonstrator connected the vehicle network with a MOST network using AUTOSAR mechanisms and tunneling of communication of two AUTOSAR applications through a MOST network, either through the MOST Control Channel or over the MOST Ethernet Packet Channel. Both scenarios provide for a partial integration of a MOST network into the AUTOSAR standard. In the solution presented by ETAS, existing SWCs of the AUTOSAR stack, as well as the configuration mechanisms provided by AUTOSAR and the corresponding tools, may be reused as far as possible. With some extensions, for example for handling the dynamic MOST network management, the integration of MOST mechanisms into the AUTOSAR standard can be done in a quite straight-forward manner.

One additional example is the collaborative approach of MOST Cooperation, CI+ and Microchip to offer customers a complete, easy-to-use, and cost-efficient solution to transport the latest CI+ protected digital video inside automobiles.  MOST Cooperation released its latest MOST Stream Transmission Specification that includes support for the MOST CI+ Interim License Agreement issued by the CI Plus LLP ( CI+ now allows a MOST network to transport CI+ protected content using Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP). This agreement with the CI Plus LLP enables the transmission of the latest digital video broadcasts to be transported between vehicle components over a MOST network. MOST150 enables direct isochronous transport of, for example, MPEG video streams, without bit stuffing or transcoding. In addition to the approved content protection schemes for Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP) and HDCP, MOST allows the transportation of CI+ protected content. Microchip’s free DTCP software stack supports cost-efficient, content-protected communication on MOST.

Another example is Microchip’s work with the Linux Foundation. When Microchip joined the Linux Foundation in December 2014, Microchip became part of the Technical Advisory Board mentoring program and thereby, gained the opportunity to have Microchip’s MOST Linux Driver code reviewed by Greg Kroah-Hartman, as a mentor. This pushed the driver upstream to the mainline kernel. This one-on-one mentoring process helped put Microchip’s code on the fast track toward acceptance. Microchip is committed to Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) and is prepared to address the needs in terms of the quality of its contributed code and in its role as the automotive subsystem maintainer. Linux Mainline Kernel starting with Version 4.3 includes a Microchip MOST Linux driver. The driver enables access to all MOST data types and supports the USB, MediaLB and I2C interfaces of MOST network interface controllers. The driver supports standard Linux interfaces like ALSA (Audio), V4L2 (Video) and IP-based communication over the standard Linux Networking Stack. During the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Automotive Grade Linux project showed a demonstration of the new Unified Code Base distribution. This demonstration was the collaboration of many companies including Microchip’s Automotive Divisions, Pioneer, Panasonic, Renesas, and K2L. All these companies contributed code, helped integrate the software, and built the hardware.

Fig. 4: MOST® Linux Driver Architecture

Microchip Technology is fully committed to support the agenda of the MOST Cooperation. Various initiatives have been presented in this article.  Significant progress has been made. Transferring current MOST specifications to ISO standard could be a major next step and is a recognition of MOST Cooperation’s work over the past years in making MOST Technology a global and open standard. The current objectives of MOST Cooperation are important measures for MOST Technology to maintain its long-term market leadership in high-speed in-vehicle networking and enabling its customers to develop innovative, cost-competitive solutions. As the requirements for high speed networking continue to change, Microchip is prepared to adapt to these challenges and opportunities and to solve them. Microchip looks forward to working with the MOST community as they move into the future.


About the author: Johann Stelzer is a Senior Marketing Manager with Microchip Technology. He started in Microchip Technology’s Automotive Product Group in 2000 and joined Microchip’s Automotive Information System Division in 2013.


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