A View from the Top: A Virtual Prototyping Blog


Ethernet and Fault Tolerance in Automotive Systems

IMG01151-20110606-0958As a follow up to the DAC workshop called “Intra and Inter-Vehicle Networking in Automotive: Past, Present, and Future”, fellow Blogger Karen Bartelson and I had the pleasure of talking to Wilfired Steiner, Senior Research Engineer from TTTEch, about the challenges of the design of fault tolerant systems.

The discussion covers a variety of topics including the importance of standards, what can happen if real time systems like car’s are not fault tolerant, the design challenges, how the relationships between IP providers and semiconductor companies work, the role of software and we even touched on how much fun standardization can be. You can listen to the full discussion here at our archive of Conversation Central topics.

The technical item which fascinated me the most, is the way how TTTEch and the standardization teams have built on top of an existing standard – Ethernet – capabilities to make timing deterministic. Wilfired explains the details of how timing packets are used to synchronize all network participants in the video below. To reap the benefits, some of the infrastructure needs to be upgraded, but for example in a car the developer has the appropriate design control to account for this upgrade.

From a design tool’s perspective – the amount of software I those systems makes the use of early software development and techniques to enable it (like FPGA and Virtual Prototyping) basically mandatory. Wilfried commented on both simulation and formal techniques during the discussion we had.

It seems like BMW will start using Ethernet for rear view camera video transmission starting in some 2013 models … it will be interesting to see how the adoption of Ethernet and its extensions will evolve over the coming years.

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