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Utilising MOST, Ethernet for car electronic systems

03 Oct 2014  | Henry Muyshondt

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Putting it all together

MOST150, the latest generation of the MOST standard, has a dedicated Ethernet channel within its frame. There is no need to force all data into a particular format to fit a single packet or streaming transmission protocol.

This channel can take a standard Ethernet packet, without any special processing by the higher levels of the Ethernet network management stacks, and send it over the MOST network. MOST150 INICs even have Ethernet-style MAC addresses, so the Ethernet packets can be extracted at the right location and passed on to other standard Ethernet devices.

You eliminate the need for central switch hubs and additional hardware in the system. Streaming data, such as audio and video programmes, can then be sent in parallel using streaming channels to attain better efficiency in using the available bandwidth.

In fact, even if an application called for just IP-based transmission, a MOST150 network could allocate 100 per cent of its bandwidth just to the Ethernet channel. Thus, a proven automotive physical layer is already available for Ethernet transmissions in the car.

With MOST150, you have a single physical layer with the advantages that both packet and streaming technologies bring to the vehicle.

The International Standard Organization (ISO) has developed an Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) reference model for network communications. The Ethernet implementation of the OSI model is shown in Figure 2.

 ISO Open Systems Interconnect Reference Model for Ethernet

Figure 2: ISO Open Systems Interconnect Reference Model for Ethernet. (Source: Microchip)

To use the same model over MOST150, you simply change the lower two layers and replace them with MOST technology. You can then run additional MOST network layers in parallel. Figure 3 illustrates this modified OSI model implementation.

 Modified OSI Reference Model

Figure 3: Modified OSI Reference Model that includes MOST technology and Ethernet. (Source: Microchip)

As shown in Figure 3, all the higher layers remain unchanged. Only the data link and physical layers need to change for Ethernet communications; no changes to the actual consumer-facing applications are required. The MOST network packet channels have their own stack that can run in parallel and independently from the Ethernet stacks.

While there are many IT-related stacks for IP communications, the automotive industry has developed its own communication stacks.

They include many features specific to automotive applications, such as system management and control functions and gateways to other automotive networks, such as CAN. These automotive stacks are not geared to run over standard Ethernet, but they are already available for MOST networks.

Combining Ethernet and MOST technology on a single data link and physical layer speeds up the development effort required, as it is no longer necessary to "reinvent the wheel" to manage automotive information and entertainment systems.

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