The University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Lab recently expanded its automotive Ethernet testing capabilities, and UNH-IOL says that it is the first lab to offer 1000BASE-T1 physical medium attachment testing along with 100BASE-T1 interoperability testing.

Curtiss Donahue, senior manager for Ethernet technologies at UNH-IOL, said that said that the test lab’s expansion in this area is part of an effort to support growing implementation of in-vehicle Ethernet systems by automotive manufacturers.

“The overabundance of sensors installed in the modern-day vehicles has led to the development of complex safety systems. As a result, this brings in a challenge of its own where the conventional wiring harnesses and connectors are incompetent to support the bandwidth requirements owing to high-speed data transmission,” TechNavio said in a recent report on leading automotive Ethernet vendors. “Emphasizing on this, OEMs are investing in the development of networking technologies that involves light-weight materials at low cost and higher bandwidth limit.” This is where in-vehicle Ethernet wiring comes in.

Connected and autonomous vehicles both rely heavily on sensors in — and in the future, around — the vehicle for driver assistance and future autonomous capabilities, Donahue said. Those sensors have a wired connected backbone, and Ethernet has been adopted in that backbone in order to enable higher data rates and more bandwidth — so that, for instance, both infotainment systems and advanced driver assistance systems can both work, Donahue said.

Automotive Ethernet is “looked to by the automotive OEMS as the next-generation data bus,” he added. Traditional in-vehicle connection systems had a maximum capability of around 10 Mbps, he said, but Ethernet can support up to 100 Mbps and IEEE anticipates even faster speeds — gigabit and multi-gigabit speeds for in-vehicle systems — in the future.

“In general, Ethernet is meant to be the solution to allow for the higher bandwidth to create the self-driving ecosystem that we know is coming,” Donahue said.

UNH-IOL is one of the only test labs used by the Open Alliance for the physical layer conformance testing for 100-BASE-T1, which Donahue said is more focused toward silicon vendors. UNH-IOL has been doing that testing for about four years, Donahue said, and now the testing program is large enough to warrant a testbed for interoperability. Donahue said that the interoperability aspect is one that will appeal to automotive OEMs who want to make sure that physical layer integration will work with their software stacks in a multi-vendor environment.

The PMA testing, he said, involves receiver testing and traffic exchange including under stressed conditions with the introduction of jitter, cross-talk or other imperfections in the radio frequency environment, to make sure that the PHY design can withstand them. The interoperability testing focuses on testing products from a variety of companies over different cable lengths up to 15 meters with five connectors to ensure that there are no issues such as injected errors or incorrect reception.

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