Back in 2003, ARM, Nokia, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments founded the MIPI Alliance (www.mipi.org) to speed the evolution of the smartphone. The alliance’s goal is to design and promote hardware and software interfaces that streamline the integration of components. Today, every smartphone features at least one MIPI specification. And the MIPI Alliance boasts about 300 companies ranging from handset and other device manufacturers to semiconductor and test and measurement companies. By expanding its popular Camera Serial Interface (CSI-2) specification beyond mobile applications, MIPI is now bringing advanced imaging capabilities to new platforms including automotive systems. Here’s what we learned from Haran Thanigasalam, MIPI Alliance Camera Working Group Chair:
What new capabilities in automotives is MIPI targeting first and in what way?
Thanigasalam: Vastly improved high dynamic range, sensor aggregation, and provisions for time-sensitive networks are addressed first, as they’re much needed for broad range of automotive vision applications.
A number of MIPI’s CSI-2 v2.0 enhancements will clearly benefit the automotive industry. For example, RAW-16 and RAW-20 color depth will improve intra-scene high dynamic range (HDR) and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), bringing advanced vision capabilities to autonomous vehicles and systems. In addition, expanded virtual channels from 4 to 32 will accommodate the automotive industry’s large number of image sensors and their multiple data types. These channels also will support multi-exposure and multi-range sensor fusion for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) applications, such as enhanced collision avoidance. What about these other enhancements (listed below); how do you see them benefiting the automotive platform?
- Latency Reduction and Transport Efficiency (LRTE): enhanced sensor aggregation and multi exposure contributing to high dynamic range.
- Differential Pulse Code Modulation (DPCM) 12-10-12 compression: superior SNR using reduced bandwidth that may be facilitated by legacy PHY/SerDes.
- Scrambling to reduce power spectral density (PSD) emissions: minimizes PSD emissions from aggressor components, which are particularly beneficial when placed near sensitive receivers.
How does MIPI view its role in the automotive market in particular?
Thanigasalam: Automobiles have become a new platform for innovation, and manufacturers are using MIPI Alliance specifications to develop applications for safety, infotainment, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Components interconnected for these features include high-performance cameras and imaging sensors; infotainment and dashboard displays; telematics hubs; audio systems; data storage; and network connectivity chipsets providing access to LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
Car manufacturers are adopting MIPI specifications because the solutions are mature, relatively simple to use, and help reduce the number of wires needed to connect components. MIPI specifications also are well-proven, which reduces risk. Fundamentally, automotive designs also benefit from the low-power, high-bandwidth, and low EMI capabilities provided by MIPI specifications.
Automotive platforms increasingly have “eyes” everywhere. As shown by this diagram, MIPI protocols have wide applications across the automotive system, providing a comprehensive approach to driver assistance, infotainment, and more.
In addition, automotive platforms are heavily reliant on sensors. MIPI specifications will play a key role in enabling sensor-based applications for parking assistance, day- and night-time imaging applications, in-car gesture controls, pedestrian detection, road signage interpretation, rear-view and side-view mirrors as well as self-driving and autonomous cars.
Are new companies joining MIPI to help in its automotive efforts?
Thanigasalam: Yes, companies are engaging with MIPI in its automotive efforts within our Technical and Marketing Steering Groups to ensure that the MIPI Alliance can evolve applicable specifications to meet the requirements of the automotive industry as it evolves into autonomous driving and other advancements. Many new members have joined MIPI Alliance in the past year or two who are focused on automotive. A complete list of MIPI members can be found at: https://mipi.org/membership/member-directory. In addition, many MIPI Members have significant focus and product offerings to address the automotive ecosystem.