Marvell is relying on automotive Ethernet technology to create a beachhead in the emerging market of vehicles driven by rich, big data...
Marvell is relying on automotive Ethernet technology to create a beachhead in the emerging market of vehicles driven by rich, big data.
The company claimed this week the industry’s first automotive Gigabit Ethernet PHY solution integrated with media access control security (MACsec) technology, thus providing Layer 2 security.
MACsec secures data exchange on a hop-by-hop basis in in-vehicle networks. The new PHY chip prevents Layer 2 security threats such as intrusion, man-in-the-middle, and replay attacks, the company explained.
Marvell boasts it has “the most complete data infrastructure” product portfolio tailored for data centers. Portfolio ingredients range from base-band and data plane processors and HDD, SDD storage controllers to PHYs and switches for networking and security processors.
Will Chu, vice president and general manager of the automotive business unit at Marvell, told EE Times, “We are now taking our expertise in data-infrastructure out on the edge” into the automotive market.
Marvell has been dead set on taking the lead in the automotive Ethernet market. The company was first in the market with1000BASE-T1 PHY (Gigabit per second Single Pair Ethernet), first with automotive secured switch, and first with Multi-Gig Ethernet PHY. Marvell also acquired Aquantia, a leader in Multi-Gig Ethernet connectivity, in May 2019.
Without question, Gigabit Ethernet is an in-vehicle networking technology eagerly sought for future vehicles with an appetite for increased network bandwidth, lower latency and higher connectivity. Nevertheless, as Ian Riches, vice president for the global automotive practice at Strategy Analytics, noted, the hard reality is, “to date, the Gigabit Ethernet’s penetration has been modest.” It is typically limited to premium models or brand-new platforms.
Security & energy efficiency
With the new dual-speed 100/1000 BASE-T1 88Q222xM, Marvell is introducing to the industry an Automotive multigigabit PHY integrated with MACsec.
The new PHY also supports the Open Alliance TC10 for “sleep mode and wake-up.” This helps reduce power consumption associated with in-vehicle networking. Energy efficiency has become an “increasingly important feature for electric vehicles,” said Chu.
Asked about Marvell’s new gigabit PHY with MACsec, Strategy Analytics’ Riches told EE Times, “More speed means more data. More data means more potential for security issues.” MACsec is a mature and robust standard for “identifying ‘misbehavior’ on an Ethernet network, thus helping to protect against intrusion, man-in-the-middle and replay attacks,” he explained. “Having such standards-based approaches readily available to them will help OEMs develop the comprehensive cyber security solutions that both the market and legislators will demand.”
Marvell claims that its 88Q22xM is “the industry’s lowest power Gigabit Ethernet PHY,” enabling OEMs to design energy efficient in-vehicle network architecture.
Driving factors for Gigabit Ethernet in vehicles
All things considered, will electric vehicles be the first segment of the automotive market to embrace Ethernet? Strategy Analytics’ Riches said that EV technology in and of itself is not the biggest driver for Gigabit Ethernet.
Rather, key factors prompting OEMs to adopt Gigabit Ethernet are centralized vehicle architecture/domain controllers, increased vehicle connectivity and ADAS/autonomous functionality. As automotive OEMs develop new architectures, Riches explained, “the current paradigm of one feature per one ECU” is winding down. He said it is “not sustainable in the long term.” Instead, so-called “domain controllers” are emerging.
In parallel, as more vehicles get connected, equipped with more advanced ADAS and autonomous functionalities, Riches said they must be able to handle the ever increasing data flow in a vehicle. High-end ADAS/AV will have a greater direct impact on the need for high-speed Ethernet.
The car market under Covid-19 economy
Industry analysts are keenly aware of the impact of the Covid-19 economy on the automotive market. Egil Juliussen, the “Egil’s Eye” columnist for EE Times, has written: “Global auto sales dropped like a rock and will remain well below recent yearly sales for five years and possibly longer depending on region.”
Strategy Analytics’ Riches agreed. “We are hearing that some new platforms will see delays due to budget cuts and restructuring brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. Our current forecasting horizon goes out to 2027, and we still expect a minority of vehicles shipped that year to feature a full domain-controller based architecture and Gigabit Ethernet backbone.”
Riches, however, added: “That’s not to say that growth won’t be strong – we’re just starting from a pretty low base today, in the teeth of one of the worst socio-economic climates that the auto industry has had to face in peacetime. These technologies take time to roll out across platforms and model ranges.”
Marvell’s Chu takes a longer view. As far as he is aware, more than 30 OEMs are already exploring automotive Ethernet, while the top 10 OEMs began adopting Ethernet three years ago. “We know Gigabit Ethernet is not a matter of if but a matter of when” to car OEMs, he said.
The company noted that Marvell’s 88Q222x solution is based on the Automotive QMS Process and comes with functional safety collateral assisting tier-1s and OEMs in fulfilling ISO 26262 at a system level. The chip has been sampling since last month. Volume production is expected within three years, according to Chu. The 88Q22x will be fabricated by TSMC by using TSMC’s automotive-grade 16nm FinFET process technology.