How will high-speed data be moved around the car?

Internet systems in cars is becoming more and more competitive and the two systems, Ethernet AVB and MOST150, are competing for automotive companies' attention.
By Helena Perslow, IMS Research June 21, 2011

Within the automotive camera module space two important trends can be identified; the first towards digital cameras and the second towards the use of megapixel technology. These trends prompt an important question: with all of this additional data being captured, how will it be moved at high speed around the vehicle? There are currently two potential solutions vying for supremacy – Ethernet AVB or MOST150. Each solution has its pros and cons, and each has influential companies backing it.

MOST150 is the third generation of the MOST Cooperation ‘standard’ for infotainment and multimedia networking in automotive applications, and is backed by major automotive OEMs, Tier 1s and component suppliers. Ethernet AVB has the support of the Avnu Alliance, which is backed by a group of well-known technology leaders, although few are out-and-out automotive suppliers.

The MOST Cooperation has, so far, made solid progress with MOST150, with the Volkswagen Group and Daimler announcing earlier this year the introduction of vehicles with MOST150. The Audi A3 will be first in 2012 and the Mercedes S-class will follow in 2013. The MOST Cooperation also has the advantage that hundreds of car models already use MOST25 and MOST 50; furthermore, MOST150 also supports Ethernet over a new packet channel.

So, does this mean the use of Ethernet AVB for automotive purposes is dead in the water? Not necessarily. The cost of using unshielded copper cabling is lower than POF, optical networks require skilled operatives to handle the sensitive interconnects, and some OEMs are rejecting the use of POFs because of problems when using them in small or restricted spaces. Furthermore, the potential bandwidth of Ethernet is higher than MOST150.

What Ethernet AVB needs at the moment is a major OEM to announce that it will be used in a new car model. That will give credence to the technology and mean that the automotive industry has two alternative technologies for the transport of high-speed data.