MOST150 points to technology tipping point

by Harald Schoepp, SMSC , TechOnline India - January 30, 2012

The third generation of Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST), MOST150, is about to be launched for mass production. Like always, even before one technology generation is close to its peak, the question arises: What comes next?

Since the foundation of the MOST Cooperation in 1998, more than 100 car models have been launched, relying on this infotainment backbone. The third generation of Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST), MOST150, is about to be launched for mass production. Like always, even before one technology generation is close to its peak, the question arises: What comes next?

In-vehicle infotainment

The future of infotainment networking can be divided into two categories. For the European luxury brands, which have driven the adoption of the MOST standard from the very beginning, the future will look different than for the many followers who are more focused on the mass market than on the high-end premium segment.

As of today, only 10 to 20% percent of all passenger vehicles are equipped with an infotainment network. At the same time, many car makers who have not been highly focused on infotainment are facing the need to shape up in order to keep pace with the digital world, offering networked applications. For those car makers, it is very important to bet on a technology which is proven and shipping in high volume, offering state-of-the art performance and low price at a minimum risk.

The re-use of the MOST50 or MOST150 technology is a rock solid and very straight forward approach, providing a well understood network and taking advantage of the existing MOST specifications, components, software stacks, and development and debug tools. The focus is on low cost, low risk, and a very fast time-to-market. The available data rates are more than sufficient for the transmission of even multiple high-definition channels and the protocol stack which has been developed and debugged for more than 10 years offers almost everything needed.

With the MOST50 UTP electrical physical layer, which has been in production since 2007, even a point-to-point link between a head unit and a DSP audio amplifier can be cheaper than an analog connection plus a digital control bus.

A major strength of the MOST technology consists of carefully balancing technological possibilities, real market requirements and economic considerations. From that perspective, it is extremely important to show a clear cost-down roadmap parallel to technological advancements. Several different aspects need to be addressed, including data transport capacity (bitrate), physical media and topology options. As there will be an increasingly strong tie between infotainment/telematics and driver assistance applications, requirements from both areas need to be fulfilled.

Prepared for rollout this year, MOST150, in addition, provides an automotive-ready physical layer for IP/Ethernet protocols as well as transporting high Quality of Service audio and video within the car. This makes MOST the ideal network backbone for a broad variety of IP-based applications such as supporting apps on connected services and Internet access in general. MOST is from this perspective comparable to an IEEE802.x network while providing high speed, real time, synchronous A/V streaming.

With MOST having already crossed the chasm from a niche technology to mass market the overall system costs including research and design, components, cabling, software stacks, etc. are being reduced significantly. The volume curve will start to rise even more steeply from 2013/14 onwards, when the roll-outs to high volume models will start. This will lead to further cost reductions, which also make MOST very attractive for non-infotainment application areas such as driver assist to participate in the "high-volume effect" from MOST production in the infotainment area.

To read the complete article, including a discussion of driver assist systems, click here, courtesy of EE Times Europe Automotive.

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