Audi to use NatSemi's SerDes technology in 2012 car models

July 29, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Audi will use National Semiconductor's FPD-Link III SerDes chipsets in its upcoming car generation due in 2012. The carmaker plans to equip its modular high-end infotainment systems with NatSemi's high-bandwidth data transmission technology.

The agreement between the two companies has been signed already in October 2010. The move enables Audi to roll out a series of innovative in-vehicle capabilities and benefits based on National's technology. Building on an already successful relationship – National's FPD-Link solution for car infotainment is already in use across the Audi vehicle lineup – the fruits of this agreement will first be seen with start of production of the 2012 Audi A3 model, expanding in subsequent years to include additional Audi vehicles and models.

Audi is renowned for the intuitive implementation of its user interface. Information is positioned where the user expects it – at eye level – with control elements within easy reach of their intended users: the driver or the passengers. This philosophy and attention to detail extends down to the design of Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) infotainment and directly influences the choice of chipsets.

The SerDes chipset selected by Audi allows uncompressed HD video from the Audi MMI's central processing unit to be distributed to the high-resolution displays spread throughout the front and rear of the vehicle. By enabling a truly protected digital signal, the content (for instance, a Blu-ray movie or three-dimensional map data) may not be altered, compromised or copied.

National’s FPD-Link III Ser/Des chipset leverages the company’s expertise in high-speed analog and mixed-signal technology, transporting HD digital video, audio, clocking and encrypted key exchange for content protection over a single twisted pair cable. It is one of a selected few to be accepted by the Digital Content Protection (DCP, LLC), the licensing body for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) as an approved HDCP technology.

According to Peter Steiner, Head of Infotainment at Audi, the partnership with National enables the carmaker to engineer cost-optimized solutions with the goal of offering Premium HD digital video across the company's entire vehicle range. The FPD-Link III family extends beyond Infotainment to include automotive-grade chipsets for Audi’s