Intersil Corp. is preparing to roll out a low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) technology that could enable automakers to eliminate fiber optic cabling and connectors from high-end automotive multimedia systems.
The new technology, expected to reach the automotive electronics market in January, could have a profound impact on automakers who are interested in employing the MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport) networking standard but are concerned about the use of fiber optics. It reportedly enables them to maintain the high-bandwidth that made MOST a desirable networking scheme for automotive video and audio systems, while employing simple, twisted pair wire.
“This can replace MOST’s fiber lines and there’s absolutely no step down in performance,” notes Leigh Cormie, automotive marketing manager for Intersil Corp. Cormie adds that the new LVDS transmitters would cost more for tier-one suppliers and makers of electronic control modules, but would cut costs and complexity for automakers because it would eliminate extra cabling and connectors.
Intersil’s LVDS solution works by serializing and de-serializing parallel signals and sending them across twisted pair wire, instead of fiber optic cabling. It reportedly accomplishes that by employing “blank space” during the microseconds between the transmission of data packets sent from a transmitter to a receiver. By sending control data in that blank space, Intersil’s LVDS technology enables signals to be sent bi-directionally, instead of in the more traditional uni-directional fashion. As a result, control signals for networking interfaces such as MOST can be sent back and forth without the need for fiber optics.
“Previously, you needed interface chips, cables and connectors to send those signals,” Cormie says. “Now, you can do it with a single twisted pair wire.”
Cormie adds that she expects the technology to have an impact on a multitude of technologies that are now being designed into vehicles. “Because you now have cameras, displays, games, DVDs, and navigation systems all over the car, this technology will be important,” she says. “All of those systems require additional connectors and all of them are susceptible to noise. This can eliminate some of those concerns.”
Intersil says the technology has worked in laptops, which can be even more demanding in terms of data transmission.
“The multimedia devices in your car are not as complicated as those in your laptop,” Cormie says. “If you can run a laptop with an LVDS, you can do it in a car.”
--Charles J. Murray, Senior Technical Editor