Electronic Design

A Plethora Of Automotive Networking Protocols

There's no shortage of the number of networking protocols available for automotive infotainment and control functions, and the list keeps expanding. Some of these protocols augment each other, while they're incompatible in other cases, raising the issue of which network protocol will win out.

The answer isn't that straightforward, since each protocol has specific critical functions not offered by others. Complicating the issue is the fact that automotive makers in different regions of the world tend to favor one or more of these protocols. The likelihood is that many of these protocols may very well coexist, with others possibly falling by the wayside.

The list of protocols includes CAN, LIN (SAE J2602), TT-CAN, IEBus, SAE J1850, FlexRay, MOST, Sync, TTP, ICAN, aFCAN, VAB, mobileGT, NEXUS 5001, SPARC, and BEAN. Most if not all fall in some capacity under the umbrella of the larger AutoSar architecture (see the figure). The first set of specifications from AutoSar, Release 2.1, was released this January.

AutoSar is an open and standardized software architecture jointly developed by automobile manufacturers, as well as electronics suppliers and developers. It aims to apply its architecture to all vehicle systems, encompassing chassis, powertrain, safety, human-machine interface, body electronics, and multimedia systems.

Jaspar was created by Japanese electronics OEMs to also define an open architecture platform, making it easier for all suppliers and OEMs to develop next-generation system architectures. It leverages the FlexRay bus standard and AutoSar's architecture.

This year, AutoSar made a significant advance in the automotive field with a successful prototype demonstrator project involving Volvo and Mentor Graphics. Although the prototype demonstrator supports control type functions, it's a validation of AutoSar's viability, which can cover infotainment systems as well.

One early standardization effort, begun in 1998, has since faded from the scene due to a lack of total support. The AMI-C consortium was developed specifically to standardize multimedia applications. While some major automotive manufacturers gave it support at that time, it wasn't a consensus.

Most of the AMI-C's standards efforts have since been transferred over to the International Standards Organization (ISO), the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the Media Oriented System Architecture (MOST) cooperation consortium, the OSGi Alliance, and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
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