First TrueAuto Ethernet controller

SMSC has launched the LAN89218, its first TrueAuto(tm) high-performance single-chip 10/100 Ethernet controller. This device is designed specifically to meet the high reliability standards required by automotive applications such as on-board diagnostics or fast software download interfaces for central gateway and telematics modules, navigation systems, radio head units and connectivity devices. The LAN89218 offers increased access speed for diagnostics and software downloads over traditionally slower speed interfaces typically used to interface to the vehicle today. Using the LAN89218 high-performance Ethernet interface within today’s complex vehicle electrical systems packed full with user functional content can help diagnose issues faster, lower software maintenance time and ultimately bring greater satisfaction to the consumer through shorter repair times and lower cost.

The size of embedded program and data memories used in modern cars is growing rapidly. For example, the newly released BMW 7 Series has more than one GByte of memory while the previous model had just short of 100 Mbytes of memory. While repair shops usually diagnose and fix problems, they also update the software and data embedded in the various control devices inside the car. The official access into the car for this is the On Board Diagnostics (OBD) connector. Today this standardized connector only provides a slow communication interface. Updating the software of a modern car via this interface takes hours, which significantly increases both repair times and costs. As a result, many car companies are working on an upgrade of the OBD connector to provide the car with a high-performance data interface for diagnostics and software downloads. The candidate of choice is Ethernet. This initiative is expected to lead to a new ISO/SAE standard that mandates Ethernet as part of the OBD interface for all cars.

Ethernet is the most widely used networking technology in the corporate and repair shop IT infrastructure. Ethernet?s wide proliferation, high-bandwidth and optimized communication for bursts or packets of information make it an excellent connectivity solution for the automobile. It can connect the external Ethernet-based infrastructure of the repair shop to a vehicle in a repair bay and move large amounts of diagnostic information and software data seamlessly between the two.

As a leading provider of embedded Ethernet products for a wide variety of consumer and industrial applications, SMSC now provides, with the LAN89218, its first TrueAuto Ethernet controller that has specifically been designed, validated, qualified, characterized and manufactured for the high reliability requirements of the car. SMSC has been a trusted supplier for the automotive market for more than a decade. Its expertise in the design of CarNet, Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST), Ethernet and USB connectivity allows SMSC to deliver efficient solutions for connections inside and outside of the car.

‘The LAN89218 is best suited for making the car accessible to diagnostic systems because it offers a fast mechanism to transfer software into the vehicle,’ said Dr. Christian Thiel, Vice President and General Manager of SMSC’s Automotive Information Systems group. ‘Enabling an Ethernet-based diagnostic and software maintenance entry to the vehicle can significantly reduce the time required to diagnose and fix problems while a car is being serviced.’

The LAN89218 provides a simple, parallel host bus interface to the typical automotive embedded microcontrollers used inside a car. Built into a device embedded in the car, the chip can function as a network branch to the outside world connecting the car to a personal computer, diagnostic tool or a complex Ethernet network in the repair shop.