Able to coexist with automotive Ethernet, INICnet simplifies infotainment networking with its ability to link IP-based communication across vehicle domains.
By Murray Slovick, Contributing Editor
With the addition of mobile service and autonomous driving applications, infotainment systems require a more flexible solution for transporting packet, stream, and control content. To address this need, at Electronica Microchip Technology announced an automotive infotainment networking solution at the just-held electronica show that supports all data types, including audio, video, control and Ethernet, over a single cable.
Called Intelligent Network Interface Controller networking (INICnet) technology, the synchronous, scalable solution simplifies building audio and infotainment systems. It offers seamless implementation in vehicles that have Ethernet-oriented system architectures.
Audio is a key infotainment feature in vehicles, and INICnet technology offers flexibility through its support of various digital audio formats with multiple sources and sinks. INICnet technology also provides high-speed packet-data communications with support for file transfers, over-the-air (OTA) software updates, and system diagnostics via standard Ethernet frames.
As such, INICnet technology supports integration of Internet Protocol (IP)-based system management and data communications, along with efficient transport of stream data. INICnet technology doesn’t require the development and licensing of additional protocols or software stacks, reducing development costs, effort, and time.
“Microchip has extensive experience as the leading supplier of networking solutions for high-bandwidth, in-vehicle infotainment systems,” said Matthias Kaestner, vice president of Microchip’s automotive business units. “With support for Ethernet, audio, video, and control over a single cable, INICnet technology is a future-proof solution that enables OEMs to build applications that align with the development trends of in-vehicle networking.”
INICnet technology works with both unshielded twisted pair (UTP) at 50 Mb/s and coaxial cable at 150 Mb/s. With low and deterministic latency, INICnet technology supports deployment of complex audio and acoustics applications. Integrated network management supports networks ranging from two to 50 nodes, as well as processor-less or slim modules where the node is remotely configured and managed.
According to Microchip, the solution’s Power over Data Line (PoDL) capability saves costs on power management for microphones and other slim modules. Nodes can be arranged in any order with the same result, and any node in the system is able to directly communicate with any other node in the system.
INICnet technology comes with the Unified Centralized Network Stack (UNICENS), which is free-of-charge network-management software. UNICENS coexists with IP-based system management, simplifying the application code by separating system management from resource management.
Additional INICnet technology tools include a network analyzer, a network configuration tool, as well as evaluation boards with various feature sets—all available through Microchip’s K2L subsidiary.
INICnet technology 150 products are available today in volume production quantities. INICnet technology 50 UTP samples are available now and in volume production in 2019.