Cars to become sophisticated communication hubs, powered by Ethernet

ABI research has published its new ‘In-Vehicle Connectivity And Networking’ study, which suggests that, thanks to 2011’s BroadR-Reach 100Mbit/s automotive Ethernet standard, Ethernet penetration in new vehicles will grow from a mere 1 per cent this year to 40 per cent in 2020.

“The emergence of drive-by-wire, the explosion of in-vehicle sensors for ADAS and automated driving, and the adoption of connected infotainment, pose new challenges for in-vehicle networking technologies in terms of cost, bandwidth, cable harness weight, and complexity,” said ABI Research VP and practice director, Dominique Bonte. “Ethernet is now being considered as a replacement for legacy bus protocols such as MOST and FlexRay by car OEMs including BMW and Hyundai.”

Short range wireless technologies, such as BLE and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, are also being deployed for connecting and integrating smartphones, smart watches and eyewear into the vehicle, while broadband wired standards such as MHL are enabling connected rear-seat infotainment.

Bonte says this reflects a wider trend of dedicated automotive standards for electronics, semiconductors, software (AUTOSAR and JasPar), and connectivity optimised for vehicle requirements – such as reliability, robustness, temperature range and cost – being partially replaced by or complemented with general purpose ICT technologies. Such technologies include Ethernet, HDMI / MHL, NFC, and computing and graphics processors to keep up with the pace of innovation in the consumer electronics, digital home, and mobile industries.

Whilst this represents a threat for the traditional automotive ecosystem of suppliers such as Freescale, NXP and Renesas, it is also an opportunity for mobile chipset vendors Broadcom, Intel and Qualcomm, as well as start-ups such as Silicon Image, to enter the automotive industry.

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