Being one of the founding members of the OPEN Alliance that advocates the deployment of Ethernet in the automotive environment, NXP of course sees a great future for this technology, not least as the data backbone in future vehicle generations. But Ethernet can serve as data pipe in many places in the car. For instance, today’s centralised head unit could be replaced by more decentralised functional units like an RF unit close to the antenna of the car and an audio unit near the loudspeakers. The distributed approach would help engineers to locate these units as close as possible to the best place for their respective purpose. These units, of course, would be interconnected through an Ethernet network. Carmakers could also benefit from lower weight for the cable loom as the unshielded twisted pair wiring used in BroadR-Reach Ethernet has a lower weight than most competing technologies that require shielded cables. BroadR-Reach is the automotive variety of Ethernet as defined by the OPEN Alliance.
These benefits will cause Ethernet to gain much more traction in future car vehicles, experts agree. “We believe that OEMS around the globe will deploy Ethernet across the board since this technology enables them to implement a multitude of applications and functions. This includes areas like Safety, driver information systems, ADAS and entertainment”, says Thilo Koslovski, top automotive analyst at consulting company Gartner. By 2023, 162 million Ethernet nodes with a total of 242 million ports will be implemented in vehicles, Koslovski estimates.