The defining mark of today’s new car is multiple electronic systems and devices. With the volume of gadgets, there comes greater complexity. Most high-end vehicles now feature advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), on-board diagnostics, multiple cameras, and complex information/entertainment systems. No wonder one example of the wiring harness in a high-end luxury vehicle can weigh as much as 110 lbs.
Therefore, a move toward automotive networking is gaining momentum, particularly Automotive Ethernet (IEEE 802.3bw). However, to adequately support the amount of hardware and software in modern vehicles, a huge amount of bandwidth is necessary. According to one industry review, “today’s vehicles are best served by networks with an open architecture that’s scalable, future-proof, and can support multiple systems and devices.”
Automotive Ethernet Testing
The proliferation of automotive electronic systems has caused a dramatic increase in testing to validate designs for new in-demand electronic features. These features need to work reliably in different vehicles that feature multiple ECUs and system characteristics. Testing protocols often hit a snag when engineers are forced to attach a special coupler to in-car systems in order to obtain the necessary signals for testing. According to one review website, this coupler splicing, “adds insertion and return loss and makes it difficult to determine if an error is a result of the system or the additional hardware.”
Tektronix, makers of test and measurement equipment that is used worldwide, recently released two innovative software products to make Automotive Ethernet testing faster and simpler. Tektronix claims these software solutions will save time, reduce costs, and solve signal analysis and debugging issues for engineers involved in Automotive Ethernet testing.
Tektronix Signal Separation Software
This new software package offers the distinct advantage of eliminating the need for severing the Ethernet cable in order to splice in the directional coupler needed for attaching the system to test devices. This eliminates the risk of disrupting the ECU signal and causing signal loss. A special algorithm allows engineers to examine separate signals and perform debugging with the test device at the same time.
Tektronix PAM3 Analysis Package
The Tektronix PAM3 analysis package makes it possible to obtain more accurate measurements that also provide data about the characteristics of each signal. This makes Automotive Ethernet testing and validation much faster across various ECUs and platforms.
A second advantage of this software solution is that it includes Automotive Ethernet physical layer compliance testing that meets Open Alliance TC8 specifications. These standards are designed to ensure that all hardware, software, and Ethernet connectivity can endure and successfully operate in the physical conditions of a vehicle that can be subjected to all manner of operating conditions.
Tektronix and the Automotive Ethernet Revolution
These two new software solutions provide three distinct advantages that advance Automotive Ethernet testing processes for better and faster validation of automotive electronic systems. This contributes to the overall benefits of using Automotive Ethernet for electronics connectivity. Automotive Ethernet is capable of higher bandwidth than standard automotive serial cabling and reduces the weight of cabling by approximately 30%.
As modern vehicles become more sophisticated in their electronic offerings, Automotive Ethernet will prove to be the best solution for connectivity and reliability. Tektronix has provided new products that enable existing and new electronic gadgets to be available to the consumer market much faster and much cheaper.