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Group to plug Ethernet into cars, professional media

Posted: 27 Aug 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ethernet? automotive? Wi-Fi? in-car network?

A new ad hoc industry group plans to drive standards that could bring Ethernet to new automotive and professional audio/video markets and enhance tomorrow's home networks.

The AVnu Alliance Inc. was created by Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Harman International, Intel, Samsung and Xilinx. The companies will promote a suite of IEEE standards for LAN bridging that will extend the media capabilities of Ethernet.

The group claims chips and systems adopting the technology could use Ethernet to replace today's in-car networks such as FlexRay and MOST or professional audio networks such as CobraNet. The technology also could add enhanced capabilities to today's wired and wireless home networks.

The new technologies could bring down the cost and complexity of adding networks to cars and professional A/V equipment. Today that functionality is limited to high-end systems generally found in luxury cars such as BMWs and marquee venues such as Yankee Stadium.

"We want to take [networked media] to mainstream products and venues like Gap retail stores," said Rick Kreifeldt, president of AVnu and VP of Harman's corporate technology group.

Broadcom, Xilinx and Xmos have already announced products using the technology and "a couple others in the wings," said Kreifeldt. "You will see a wide range of end points that has us existedand we are seeing some MACs, PHYs, DSPs and microprocessors build this in," he added.

AVnu has just started drafting compliance and interoperability specs for a bundle of standards including IEEE 802.1 Audio/Video Bridging and IEEE 1722 and 1733. AVnu hopes to have its compliance and interoperability tests suits as early as mid-2010.

At least three of the IEEE standards should be in a late stage of approval before the end of the year. All are expected to be finally ratified by the end of 2010.

The standards reside at the link layer. Backers of existing home networks such as Multimedia over Coax and Wi-Fi are already exploring how to layer the technologies into their future products.

The IEEE specs define several key network functions including how to synch devices in time, make bandwidth reservations and create queues and forwarding schemes. The capabilities let a single Ethernet cable carry data, streaming media and management information.

The resulting nets could offer less latency and data loss than existing professional A/V networks. They also support lighter, cheaper cabling than what is currently used for in-car entertainment networks.

In addition to its founders, AVnu has announced its first promoter-class members. They include Avid, Meyer Sound and Marvell.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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