MUNICH, Germany Chip vendors rushed to present their latest developments and product strategies at the FlexRay Product Day in Boeblingen, Germany.
While presently the CAN bus is well entrenched as the standard data transport medium in automotive environments, the far more powerful FlexRay design is about to enter the starting blocks. But despite the fact that BMW is already about to launch a commercial vehicle equipped with FlexRay systems, the technology is in its infancy. "There is a lot left to define and to develop in FlexRay", explains Jean-Marie LeGall, Product Marketing Manager, Automotive Power for Infineon. "Before we will see FlexRay to take off, we need stable definitions. This probably will be the case about in the years 2010 or 2011".
Nevertheless, at the FlexRay guru meeting in the present week many chip vendors announced new products or at least the acquisition of the IP necessary to build these chips.
Infineon, for instance, announced a license agreement with Austriamicrosystems (AMS). According to the agreement, Infineon will use AMS intellectual property to build FlexRay transceivers. Conjointly with the FlexRay controllers developed in-house, the transceivers will be part of Infineon's FlexRay product spectrum that covers the entire FlexRay functionality, with data speeds of 10 MBit/sand more, ten times the CAN bus bandwidth that today prevails. The product spectrum will also include peripheral units and the respective software, covering safety and motor control applications in the first place.
Freescale, in terms of FlexRay implementations most of the time a step ahead of Infineon, announced new versions of its S12 microcontrollers. These 16-bit controllers, targeting at body, chassis and safety applications, will be available in more different configurations and higher memory and flash capacities.
Freescale automotive electronics cooperation partner Elmos AG of Dortmund announced three additional Flexray products, including two transceivers with additional features and a FlexRay hub device, replacing up to four single transceivers.
NXP has acquired the IP necessary to build FlexRay devices from U.S IP vendor company IPextreme. Already having a range of FlexRay hardware out in the market, NXP now bought the IP required for selling und supporting a verification environment for FlexRay vehicle networking. Having its roots in the EDA industry - IPextreme is a spin-off of Synopsys - the company complements its semiconductor IP product spectrum with this verification tool in order to enable chip designers to validate their System-on-chip products in a FlexRay network.
Not all products will be available soon, however. While Freescale is already selling its FlexRay products, Infineon is sampling its stand-alone controller, and the product range announced is at least a year away. Elmos is "close to production launch".
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