In hopes of bringing advanced automotive features such as park-assist and blind-spot detection to economy cars, Freescale Semiconductor has teamed up with Broadcom to develop a compact MCU integrated with BroadR-Reach automotive Ethernet PHY.
BroadR-Reach is an Ethernet physical layer standard designed for use in automotive connectivity applications. It's promoted by Open Alliance SIG, which has members that include Broadcom, Freescale, NXP, BMW, GM, Renault, and Daimler.
Freescale's new chip, designated as Qorivva MPC5606E, is “the industry's first fully-integrated, packaged microcontroller and physical layer transceiver solution for use in 360-degree camera systems,” according to Allan McAuslin, Freescale's Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) product manager.
The chip, using BroadR-Reach technology, allows multiple cameras to send compressed video data simultaneously over an Ethernet in-vehicle network, displaying them on a center stack screen.
Key to the size and performance of the Qorivva MPC5606E is Broadcom's BroadR-Reach automotive Ethernet PHY. The integrated Ethernet solution enables compact vision compression and rapid transmission of video data throughout the vehicle, according to the two companies.
Compressed vs. uncompressed
It's important to note that there are two ways to implement surround-camera systems in a car. One is to broadcast uncompressed video data from cameras over metal-screened low-voltage differential signaling cable. Another is to compress video, package it for Ethernet broadcast and transmit video data over twisted-pair cable.
For self-parking applications, a car, using a combination of cameras and ultrasonic technologies, makes independent decisions and takes control of the vehicle. For such applications, the video stream is not compressed, explained Freescale's McAuslin.
But if video data from multiple cameras is sent just to be displayed on an in-vehicle screen for a driver to see, rather than for the vehicle to take control, video data can be compressed.
Just to be clear, in such a case, the system enables park-assist, rather than self-parking.
Compared to the previous method of broadcasting uncompressed video data over LVDS cabling, BroadR-Reach technology — in which compressed video is transmitted via unshielded single twisted-pair cable — reduces the costs for connectivity by 80% and cable weight by 30%, according to Broadcom's estimates.
These cost and weight reductions are expected to help carmakers add surround-view camera systems to higher volume, mid-range, and economy vehicles.
Beyond reducing costs for connectivity and cable weight, the Qorivva MPC5606E helps reduce the size of automotive camera modules by up to 50%.
McAuslin pointed out that camera size is becoming more important to automotive OEMS. Carmakers want peripheral cameras to be small and unobtrusive for aesthetic reasons. Smaller cameras can be “more easily hidden within design features of the car, such as a front grill, bumper or wing mirror,” Freescale explained.
With the Qurivva MPC5606E, what used to be dual-chip solution (Freescale's MCU and Broadcom's BroadR-Reach phy) has become a single chip. The MCU and the phy are integrated in System-in-Package through stacked die wire bond. The chip is now available in a small, low-cost 8x8mm package, according to Freescale.
Key features included in the Qurivva MPC5606E — designed for real-time broadcast of video and audio data over Ethernet — are image compression through a Motion-JPEG encoder, precision-time stamping hardware (IEEE 1588), Fast Ethernet controller, and a BroadR-Reach physical layer for Ethernet broadcast.
The chip, currently available for lead customers, will be qualified in June, 2014. It will be in volume production by the end of 2014, McAuslin added.
Vehicles integrated with the new Qorivva MPC5606E will reach the market in 2015.
— Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times
This article was originally published on EBN's sister publication EE Times .