Car drivers and passengers will be enjoying higher definition information and entertainment systems by 2013, thanks to a 1Gbit/s differential serial interconnect technology developed specifically for automotive applications.
The open standard uses a peer to peer topology to provide a dedicated bandwidth of up to 1Gbit/s of video data between cameras and displays, typically via microcontrollers and graphics display controllers (GDC) which have the physical layer (PHY) integrated. BMW is expected to be the first car manufacturer to integrate it in to its high end Series 7 family. The technology, called APIX, also provides an 18Mbit/s full duplex control link, over which other existing automotive protocols, such as CAN, could be operated. More sophisticated user interfaces that use, for example, USB based peripherals could also be implemented. Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe has licensed APIC from Inova Semiconductors and will integrate the technology into low and high end automotive MCU and GDC families. However, the deal is not exclusive and Inova expects other IDMs active in this sector to follow. The open and flexible PHY uses a single twisted screened pair and was chosen over existing bus based technology – such as CAN, MOST, Flexray and IDB1394 – because of its high data rate and dedicated bandwidth, indicating the increasing demands on infotainment systems. APIX is not only the fastest, but also the first automotive communications protocol of this class that isn’t bus based.