Broadcom Doubles Down on Auto Ethernet

Broadcom is sampling a new generation of its automotive Ethernet switches. The company has moved down a production node, to 28 nm, ending up with a smaller die, a smaller package and lower power consumption.

The new BroadR-Reach automotive Ethernet switches are expected to be lower cost, easier to use and have new security features designed in. The market for automotive ICs is among the two or three fastest growing business segments for the semiconductor industry. Vehicle manufacturers keep adding electronics-based features. Many of those features benefit from being networked.

There are already multiple proprietary in-vehicle networking standards, including CAN, FlexRay, MOST and LVDS.

The wiring harness is the third most expensive subsystem in any vehicle, which makes it a ripe target for an Ethernet solution, Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) believes. Ethernet became "The Networking Standard That Ate The World" in part because it always ends up being cheaper than proprietary solutions.

Thus far, BMW, Jaguar, Hyundai and Volkswagen are all using Ethernet for connecting at least some systems in some of their vehicles. Broadcom is supplying BMW, Jaguar and VW.

That Volkswagen has an Ethernet backbone in its Passats indicates that Ethernet solutions are not just for luxury cars, Broadcom senior director of marketing Ali Abaye told Light Reading.

Want to know more about telecom developments in the automotive sector? Check out our dedicated automotive channel here on Light Reading.

The new chips are smaller, save space and draw less power, but they will also help reduce cost and improve reliability. Typically, in-vehicle networks require shielded cable, Abaye said, but now, with some additions to Ethernet standards, Ethernet networks can use unshielded single twisted pair, which will not only be less expensive but easier to assemble.

As for security, wired Ethernet connectivity can provide device authentication to protect the car from malicious attacks, eavesdropping and the installation of non-approved devices, the company said.

Broadcom's new BCM8953x family creates a centralized switch that brings together previously standalone connections such as back-up camera, instrumentation, audio and video streaming to share data across various applications and improve the user experience, the company said.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

kq4ym 11/13/2015 | 9:34:12 AM
Re: New specs It was intersting to learn the "wiring harness is the third most expensive subsystem in any vehicle." and so it does make sense to work on ethernet solution and lower cost ICs to bring down the costs, and presumably increase profits to manufactuers while increasing overall safety and convenience to consumers.
Mitch Wagner 11/3/2015 | 10:25:56 AM
Re: New specs Everything is a computer nowadays, and needs to be digitally connected. A car is a computer on wheels, a plane is a computer that flies. Soon your house will be a computer that you live inside. 
danielcawrey 11/2/2015 | 10:16:25 PM
Re: New specs I don't think we're going to see car companies talk too much about technical stats to drivers. Nevertheless, I think Broadcom is onto something here by making headway in the automotive sector. 

All cars are eventually going to be connected, and many of them are already hulking computers on wheels. Switches and other computer gear is simply a necessity, and Broadcom will profit from this handsomely. 
inkstainedwretch 11/2/2015 | 6:55:14 PM
Re: New specs No, but opening the hood will soon violate the terms of your EULA. -- Brian Santo
Mitch Wagner 11/2/2015 | 5:40:25 PM
New specs Will we see car companies touting bandwidth and latency alongside gas mileage and acceleration when they market new cars?
Sign In