Connectivity may be the key but automotive is the driver for both Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach Ethernet and Near-Field Communication (NFC) technologies.
By John Blyler, Editorial Director
By 2025, the mobile operators group GSMA predicts that every car will be connected to the Internet. Over 70 percent of today’s young drivers demand connectivity to the car. One of the easiest to ensure this connectivity is via the Ethernet which is already enabling data sharing amongst a variety of car networks, e.g., infotainment, powertrain, safety, body and chassis.
Broadcom recognized this trend when they made several announcements in the wired and wireless space at CES 2015. The most noticeable of these for the automotive space reflected the continued popularity of Ethernet for in-car networks and Near Field Communication (NFC) in-vehicle device pairing.
The first announcement concerned the company’s BroadR-Reach® technology which extends Ethernet connectivity to telematics, automotive shark fin-shaped antennas and instrumentation cluster applications. Specifically, BroadR-Reach technology is a replacement for traditional Low-Voltage Differential Signaling (LVDS) cabling. The former extends the range of twisted pair connections from 100 meters to up to 500 meters. Broad Reach is designed to comply with CCSA specifications for a reach-extended Ethernet physical layer. It optimizes the Ethernet physical layer by removing half of the RF emissions.
According to the company, the BroadR-Reach automotive Ethernet devices are optimized for use in low-power automotive applications. Delivering 100 megabit per second (Mbps) performance over a single, unshielded twisted pair wire, the highly integrated chip combines the functionality of multiple discrete devices in an ultra-small package (6×6 mm).
Broadcom is a founding member of the OPEN (One-Pair Ether-Net) Alliance Special Interest Group (SIG), an industry consortium focused on driving wide scale adoption of Ethernet-based automotive connectivity as the standard in automotive connectivity. “As a proven technology with a vast ecosystem, Ethernet-based connectivity in automotive has enormous potential,” said Natalie A. Wienckowski, General Motor’s Strategy Lead, Core Hardware Team and OPEN Alliance SIG Chair. “Based on how quickly membership has surged to nearly 250 members in the OPEN Alliance, the automotive industry is clearly enthusiastic.”
The second announcement in the wireless space introduced a new automotive-grade Near Field Communications (NFC) chip. The highly-integrated chip with tap-to-connect technology is designed to simplify the set-up process for mobile device connectivity within the vehicle. This should enable a range of comfort and convenience applications including keyless entry and vehicle settings.
One of the features of the NFC chip is an optimized coil design by doubling the drive current through the inductive coil. The greater drive current will make it easier to induce an electric current in the receiving device, expanding the typical read distance from 2cm to a 4cm envelope.
Both announcements demonstrate the continued growth of wired Ethernet and wireless NFC connectivity in today’s automotive market.