Auto Electronics

1394 Trade Association introduces new automotive copper standard

The 1394 Trade Association plans to release a new 1394 specification later this summer that will extend the original IDB-1394 Automotive Specification to include automotive grade copper cabling media. The new specification is intended to optimize the use of the 1394 (FireWire) standard in entertainment, environmental control, camera, and other in-vehicle applications.

The original IDB-1394 Automotive standard is an international data networking standard for transmitting video, audio, and other multimedia data over an in-vehicle network. It enables entertainment systems that can play DVDs, show digital TV programming, and provide access to the vehicle navigation system.

“This new specification truly emphasizes the value of FireWire in the vehicle,” said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association. “It can be used for a wide variety of different applications including entertainment systems, seat and mirror positioning, and heating/air conditioner settings, lane-change cameras, and rear-view cameras. We are at the threshold of a new generation of in-vehicle systems now, and 1394 will be playing a major role in their development.”

The new specification provides details on integrated circuits that are compatible with and supplemental to the original IDB-1394 Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) products used in hybrid optical and electrical networks. It also applies to ICs for use in embedded vehicle systems networks and to attach clusters of embedded 1394 devices.

Features and mechanisms are provided for high-speed extensions with forward and backward compatibility enabling single-hop distances of up to eight meters through five or more in-line connectors. The specification covers the use of coaxial cable, shielded twisted pair, and shielded twisted quad media for critical non-safety vehicle functions such as multimedia and telematics applications at data rates of 400Mbits/second or 800Mbits/second. The new specification also incorporates comprehensive improvements in power management specific to the automotive market.

Ricardo Wong, assistant manager for multimedia planning at Nissan Corporation's Advanced Engineering Center, “The new specification provides practical examples of attenuation budget with explicit indication of required electrical signal levels on the transmitter side. The standard addresses noise evaluations at the system level and the component level. Its proof of concept played a very important role in the evaluation and understanding of the main features of each of the connector and cable technologies.”

Max Bassler of Littelfuse Inc., one of the leaders of the standards project in the Automotive Work Group, said the new 1394 CU specification allows automakers to use copper media alone or in combination with optical fiber, depending on their requirements.

“It is a significant breakthrough in automotive technology, enabling information such as high-resolution navigation, entertainment, and safety features to be implemented over a single extensible network with excellent performance,” Bassler said. “Other, slower automotive network technologies work in specific niches. Only the 1394 Automotive standard offers a single, flexible and affordable solution for all requirements and applications.”

Bassler added that the new specification addresses the electromagnetic challenges that have previously limited copper’s application, in addition to extending distances – conservatively – to eight meters, and speeds up to 800 Megabits/second. Future versions of the specification are expected to extend operation to higher data rates such as 1.6Gigabits/second and 3.2 Gigabits/second.

Auto manufacturers contributing to the development of the new 1394 automotive specification include Ford, Nissan, PSA, Renault, Daimler, and Honda.

Suppliers and component manufacturers include Autosplice, Baxter Enterprises, Delphi, Eqcologic, Electronic Links, Foxconn, Fujitsu, Hosiden, Littelfuse, LSI, Molex, Quantum Parametrics, Rosenberger HF Technik, Texas Instruments, Tyco, Yazaki, and WJR Consulting.

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