By Patrick Leteinturier, Infineon Technologies(09/16/07, 06:00:00 PM EDT) -- Embedded.com
The electronic content of the automobile is expanding dramatically, driven by several concurrent forces, including consumer demand for entertainment systems and convenience functions, the addition of enhanced safety features, and government emission control regulations.
Consequently, engineers are working to raise the functionality of electronics, while simultaneously devising strategies to improve fault tolerance and provide fail-safe operation of all critical systems.
On average, a new passenger vehicle today features about 80 integrated and networked systems. And while the control of such systems as powertrain, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), airbag control and body electronics functions has traditionally been self-contained, a great deal of value can be added by exchanging data between systems.
For example, traction control systems optimize the grip of tires on the road surface, which requires that the brakes be modulated and the powertrain system retard engine torque at the same time. This can be accomplished relatively easily through a simple serial communications link between the ABS ECU (electronic control unit) and the powertrain ECU.
However, as the number of interconnects and gateways between different systems expands, the growing number of interfaces and likely bottlenecks increases the potential that the overall vehicle electronics network may grow too complex.
Overloaded networks are not efficient. They require increased testing and validation, the complexity increases the possibility of system faults, and total system cost is not optimal. A solution to this growing complexity is evolution of the vehicle electronics into a domain architecture connected by a backbone (Figure 1 below).
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