Are the specs sufficient for the future?

The C.A.S.E. megatrend describes the four essential future topics for the automotive industry: Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Service and Electric. Data plays a central role and drives the future of the automotive industry.

This raises two central questions: How can data dominate the complexity of systems in vehicles and further development? Do current specifications reflect the requirements of the future?

It is precisely these questions that we want to answer in this blog post. Here you will learn why new data transmission systems are required, how these systems are created, why early participation in committee work makes sense, what effects this work has on the product development process, and how the resulting requirements are transferred into specifications and specification sheets.

Why are new data transmission systems required?

For many years, there have been established systems, such as LIN, CAN, and FlexRay, which have been the leading and reliable on-board power systems in vehicles. These systems no longer comply with today’s requirements.

Conventional systems – distinguished from one another

Automotive Ethernet – comprehensive protocols

On the one hand, the need for higher data rates can no longer be met with these systems. Therefore, Ethernet was considered as a system in the vehicle. More than 10 years ago, this was already able to reduce update times in vehicle service compared to the CAN bus, since a data rate 100 Mbps (100BASE-TX) higher than CAN with 1 Mbps was possible. On the other hand, Ethernet offers a network system with standardized protocols to standardize communication.

In the meantime, a lot has happened with regard to the development of new Ethernet standards for automotive applications. A breakthrough was achieved with the takeover of the BroadR-Reach technology based on 100BASE-T (data rate of 100 Mbps) for sending and receiving data with 1 data pair – the so-called Single Pair Ethernet (SPE), which stands in contrast to at least 2 data pairs for standard Ethernet (100BASE-TX).

Various working groups develop standards for Automotive Ethernet and still for SerDes (serializer/deserializer) applications with serial transmission of data via a low number of cables for the transfer of asymmetrical data via coaxial or Twisted Pair connections.

New data transmission systems for Automotive Ethernet or automotive SerDes are necessary to generate the following advantages:

  • High data rates
  • Standardization of communication
  • Standardized protocols
  • Use of common nodes
  • Reduction of costs (depending on the application)

How are new data transmission systems created?

The development of new data transmission standards poses a requirement for the developers at vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) and TIER1s, in order to create as large an ecosystem as possible with market-appropriate products.

Automotive data transmission systems are created through the work of established industrial standardization committees such as IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) or MIPI (Mobile Industry Processor Interface Alliance), whose standards are implemented in numerous industries.

But that is not always enough! New committees such as the OPEN Alliance (One Pair Ethernet) or Automotive SerDes Alliance (ASA) have been formed, in whose specifications the requirements for products and components for the automotive industry are directly considered. The OPEN Alliance uses the BroadR-Reach technology and established it as an open standard for automotive network applications.

Automotive Ethernet standards from the IEEE 802.3 working group
IEEE standard Designation Data rate [Mbps]
IEEE 802.3bw 100BASE-T1 100 Already published
IEEE 802.3bp 1000BASE-T1 1000 Already published
IEEE 802.3ch 2.5GBASE-T1 2500 Already published
IEEE 802.3ch 5GBASE-T1 5000 Already published
IEEE 802.3ch 10GBASE-T1 10000 Already published
IEEE 802.3cy 25GBASE-T1 25000 In process

Why does it make sense to participate in committee work early on?

The participation of vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers in professional groups and committees (e.g. IEEE, OPEN Alliance) is extremely important as they are working with highly qualified system development experts.

The coming together of specialists from these areas provides the basis for a successful design of the specifications, which are necessary for the development of a data transmission standard. The objectives of the data transmission standard are defined at the beginning. During creation of the standard, certain framework parameters are set.

Early on, through active participation, it is possible to influence important properties of the physical transmission medium:

    • Maximum length of the transmission channel
    • Maximum number of connector systems (inline connectors, transition to printed circuit boards)
    • Transmission and reflection properties
      • Link Segment insertion loss
      • Channel return loss
      • Other properties of physical transmission
    • EMC properties
      • Disturbance signals
      • Interference resistance
      • Crosstalk
    • Specification of environmental influences
      • Temperature
      • Moisture
      • Aging
    • Specification of mechanical influences
      • Dynamic load
      • Static load

The regular exchange of participants at conferences and meetings forms the basis for the successful formulation of a standard. The standardization institutes provide the framework conditions.

Influence and effects on the product development process 

The committees depend on the active participation, contributions, and suggestions from participants for the properties of future systems.

Early tests on materials (bulk cables, connector systems) can be done by the development partners or companies. The results of these tests form the basis for limit values for future standards.

This enables the establishment of complete Link Segments at an early development stage. New bulk cables and new kinds of connector systems can therefore be tested early on, and the production technologies developed in parallel.

Do you need electrical wire and cable analyses?
If so, our accredited test laboratory is the right place for you.

Learn more

This is how implementation proceeds at MD ELEKTRONIK

Active participation in these committees allows us to test possible components on machines during the standardization phase and to assess the challenges for developing new cable assembly solutions.

Our Research & Development division carefully selects all necessary components such as bulk cables and connector systems according to the respective applications.

Solutions for the transmission of frequencies from 50 MHz to 9 GHz for antenna connections or SerDes standards (FAKRA, Mini Coax) are created in the Coax product area.

The data cables with Twisted Pair connector systems (H-MTD or HSD) are developed for LVDS transmissions or Automotive Ethernet applications.

Electrical, thermal, and mechanical FEM simulations, as well as high-frequency simulations are conducted in the development departments. All tests for specification sheet releases required by the OEMs can be conducted in our own test laboratory, certified according to IEC 17025.

Processability tests on Coax bulk cables, as well as on unscreened, screened Twisted Pair and Parallel Pair bulk cables (UTP, STP, STQ, and SPP) are conducted in our technology center at our headquarters in Germany or at our production locations worldwide.

Innovative production and connection technologies combined with the development of automated production systems enable the construction and production of future-oriented cable assembly solutions for the automotive industry’s upcoming topics.

How are the resulting requirements transferred into specifications and specification sheets?

Contents of published standards and specifications form the basis for individual product specifications and customer specification sheets.

For Automotive Ethernet applications, for example, the requirements for the channel and components are specified in great detail in the OPEN Alliance TC9. This description of the electrical and physical properties of data transmission represents a consensus reached in the professional groups. This makes creating product specification sheets easier, since on the one hand, the necessary tests and measurement procedures are described, and on the other hand also the specific limit values of the components are included.

But care should be taken. The requirements and specifications of the individual components must be compared. Real life examples demonstrate the challenges of comparing limit values from OEM specification sheets for data cables (bulk cables) and of completely assembled cables. Sometimes, there are stricter limit values for assembled cables than for bulk cables. This fact must be considered and the values must be compared, and if necessary, corrected by the responsible experts. This is necessary in order to fulfill the requirements for data transmission in the complete Link Segment and ensure the appropriate quality of the supply chains.

What is next?

The requirements for data transmission systems are increasing, not just with respect to maximum length and data rate, but also regarding the need for possibilities for transmitting data and power using the same physical transmission channels.

This is revealed in the models for zonal architecture in vehicles. The further expansion of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) will show the way to the increase of sensors in vehicles.

In addition to the power supply, such sensors also require the connection to the data on-board power system. Using high-performance data cables, sensors can be integrated into the data exchange and supplied with Power over Data Line (PoDL) or Power over Coax (PoC).

With our C-KLIC connector system, we have developed a suitable system that unites the advantages of high-performance power supply and data transmission with high data transmission rates.

Are you looking for a sustainable USB-C solution for your vehicle?
We have the ideal solution

Learn more

There are also additional requirements due to the powertrain because of changing the drive systems to electric drive with batteries (BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle).

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) represents a great challenge here. Problems with EMC can be reduced by using optical transmission systems such as Optical Automotive Ethernet (IEEE 802.3bv/IEEE 802.3cz) in the data on-board power system.

We meet this challenge and develop solutions for the transmission of Automotive Ethernet via fiber optic components and fiber optic cables.

Summary & conclusion

In order to keep a finger on the pulse, a focused and structured consideration of future topics is a crucial prerequisite for companies in the automotive industry. Through participation in committees and working groups, the requirements for new products can be derived early on. This is especially true for the physical transmission media with the components connectors and bulk cables and their processing in cable assembly. The verification of product specifications and adaptations to the respective applications and requirements are the basis for successful data transmission solutions.

Thus, “specs” for the future will be not just sufficient, but also suitable.

About Christian Neulinger

Christian Neulinger is “Manager Radio Frequency & Simulation” and has more than 10 years of professional experience in the development and qualification of innovative electrical components for cable specific high-speed data transmission. As an active member of various standardization committees such as IEEE 802.3, he is involved in the development of new high-performance data transmission systems for the automotive industry.