Ethernet has become a ubiquitous data service platform for enterprises, but it continues to evolve, and among its latest iterations is an automotive version, designed to provide connectivity within a car over a single pair of wires.
That's just one of the new things being tested at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (IOL) , where Ethernet testing has been taking place since 1988, says Jeff Lapak, senior engineer of Ethernet Technologies. Back then, 10BaseT was all the rage, but this month, the lab announced expanded interoperability testing for 40Gbit/s and 100Gbit/s Ethernet, as well as things such as power over Ethernet and specialty applications such as automotive Ethernet. (See UNH-IOL Expands Ethernet Interop Testing Support.)
UNH-IOL works with industry members through consortia it creates in specific areas of Ethernet interoperability testing, including an Automotive Ethernet Consortia. But its work in Ethernet for the car also engages testing specs developed by the OPEN Alliance (OPEN = One-Pair Ethernet Network) special interest group, a group which includes most of the major car manufacturers, and is developing standard Ethernet-based approaches to in-car connectivity.
Today every car manufacturer takes its own approach to using connectivity within the car itself, and that makes applications and services more difficult to develop than they would be for a mass market, Lapak notes.
"By bringing Ethernet into the car, it focuses and broadens the market by enabling a more uniform technology everyone will use," he says. "Also, it's a one-pair solution instead of two or four pairs, and that reduces the weight of the physical cable harness. Car makers don't want anything that is going to make their vehicles heavier or less fuel efficient."
The single-pair Ethernet wiring for the auto supports the typical services, notably infotainment within the car, but also newer things such as automated driving assistance -- backup cameras, sensors and more. While the focus for connected cars has been on wireless technology, using wired connections within the car has the potential for less costly use of bandwidth.
"The final part is in the control plane -- emission, gas, brakes, etc. -- and that's a place where it may evolve," Lapak comments.
The OPEN Alliance has developed its own spec, called BroadR-Reach, for 100Mbit/s connectivity within the car, and UNH-IOL was the first lab to test interoperability for that spec. Now the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) , which has been the general body for Ethernet standards, also has two single-pair standards in development, one that would replace the BroadR-Reach and one for much higher speed Ethernet, up to 1 Gig, according to Lapak.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading