MOST – a gigabit data backbone for future car generations?

April 22, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At the yearly MOST Forum, the number of attendees is constantly dropping. Is this an indicator that the MOST technology succumbs to the attack of Ethernet AVB? At the recent event in Esslingen, Germany, the MOST scene proved to be quite lively.

Since last year’s MOST Forum several carmakers announced new models with MOST technology inside. Among them are Volvo’s latest top-end SUV XC90, BMWs 2 Series Active Tourer and the Audi TT. Actually, in the latter one, A MOST INIC (Intelligent Network Interface Controller) is used in a somewhat unusual and innovative way: It is part of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit System and thus in a domain that is not associated unambiguously to the infotainment – probably as an industry’s first. Meanwhile, in some 180 vehicle models worldwide, MOST is the underlying networking technology for the infotainment. While MOST networks are found mostly in upmarket and luxury sedans and SUVs from carmakers like Audi, Bentley, BMW, Daimler, and Rolls Royce, the technology has also arrived in the segment of the more affordable vehicles. An example is the Smart Forfour as the first subcompact vehicle with MOST-based infotainment.

Fig. 1: What Audi did not bother to mention: The Virtual Cockpit (electronics assembly shown)  of its TT roadster is connected to the infotainment section through a MOST link.

At the MOST Forum, it appeared that the MOST technology has found its niche where it will be difficult to attack by its fiercest competitor, Ethernet AVB. “Certainly, Ethernet has a place in the world: Where smaller amounts of data with uncritical real-time behaviour need to be processed, packet-oriented technologies like Ethernet have their advantages”, said Henry Muyshondt, Administrator of the MOSTCO, the group of companies that have gathered to develop and support the MOST technology. “However, when it comes to transport large amounts of streaming data for audio, video and camera signals, MOST will continue to be the superior solution.”

At the event, techniques to test and evaluate MOST-based systems took centre stage. Also software options to integrate MOST systems into Autosar environments were detailed by experts from Bosch subsidiary ETAS as well as from MOSTCO. Over the next months, EE Times Europe will post