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Accelerating the Standardization of Wired Connectivity Protocols for Autonomous Vehicles

Many other leading smartphone SDOs are also highly leveraged into automotive. Here we briefly review some of the key wired interfaces SDOs, including MIPI and VESA developing mobile and multimedia interfaces; JEDEC that develops memory interfaces; SD Association (SDA), NVM Express, and related organizations that develop storage interfaces; and PCI-SIG, USB-IF, and IEEE 802.3 that develop high-performance chip-to-chip interfaces. Many of these organizations have specific automotive efforts to leverage their standardization efforts in their native IT, consumer, mobile, and even data center (server) ecosystems.

Mobile and Multimedia

MIPI is the predominant interface specifications body for mobile devices. It takes a “full systems” approach in that it contemplates an entire system design as a broad set of peripherals connected to a host processor via standardized interfaces. Its interfaces are categorized into segments, including multimedia, control, and data. Key multimedia interfaces include its display serial interface (DSI), camera serial interface (CSI), and audio interface (SoundWire). Key control and data interfaces include MIPI I3C for sensor and other peripherals, and the RFFE interface for modem RF front-end control. Many of these interfaces are used in automotive by virtue of their ubiquity in billions of smartphones. MIPI also recently established its Automotive Working Group to define a high-speed interface to support adoption of its interfaces into automotive.

VESA is known primarily for its Display Port (DP) and embedded DP (eDP) interfaces originally used in IT applications including laptops. VESA also standardizes display stream compression methods to reduce the volume of data required by increasingly higher resolution and frame rate displays. Additionally, VESA has recently formed an effort to leverage into the automotive industry.

Memory and Storage

JEDEC is best known for standardizing interfaces for memory and storage, including volatile memories (such as LPDDR and DDR) and non-volatile memories (including NAND and NOR) interfaces. These are used almost by default in most applications, including heavy leverage into automotive. In addition, JEDEC standardizes many package and module specifications for memories and solid-state drives (SSD).

Other SDOs developing storage interfaces include the SDA, known primarily for its near ubiquitous SD storage cards. Recently, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), and NVM Express organizations have formed an alliance to coordinate standards for managing SSD storage devices. Generally, these SSD storage devices and interfaces target higher performance and capacity, which may become necessary as the car becomes a mobile server of sorts.

High Performance Chip-To-Chip

PCI-SIG (PCIe), USB-IF (USB), and IEEE (802.3 Ethernet) specify high-performance chip-to-chip interfaces used across IT (laptop), mobile (smartphone), and data center (server) markets. USB can be likened to SD, in that it provides consumers a reuse of a familiar interface, including for charging mobile devices. IEEE 802.3 Ethernet is well known in servers, and given the increasing performance requirements in automotive, has extended there.

Conclusion and the Benefits of Collaboration

Many interface SDOs have initiated efforts to leverage their specific investments for automotive. Likewise, each automotive manufacturer identifies its own specific automotive requirements for its market differentiation. It may be beneficial to accelerate the identification of emerging automotive requirements in a broader setting and identify interface and systems-level options to meet a common understanding of emerging requirements. This exercise may help reveal the tradeoffs of various selections, such as selecting a display interface, camera sensor or display interface, storage interface, or even system-level topologies such as centralized or network-centric.

As was the case when MIPI organized key phone manufacturers in 2003 to begin its interfaces development, a similar collaborative approach to automotive requirements may help to instruct each organization’s roadmap and accelerate the growth of the automotive platform, including the roadmap to autonomy. This is complicated by the specific practices across SDOs and industry organizations, so if pursued, the proper engagement structure should be determined.

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