Automotive Ethernet Congress
Design Offices Munich Macherei
March 4 - 6, 2024

Impression Video of AEC 2024

The highlights of the Automotive Ethernet Congress 2024

Automotive Ethernet has long since established itself as a pioneering transmission technology for vehicle networks, as has the AEC as an international industry gathering in Munich.

What was particularly fun about the tenth anniversary - and where the pain points still lie.

Are we having fun yet? This somewhat unusual question - relating to the 10 Mbit/s version of Automotive Ethernet (10BASE-T1S) - marked the start of the tenth Automotive Ethernet Congress (AEC) in Munich on 5 March 2024. The answer at the end of a workshop organised by Intrepid and onsemi with lots of practical tips was "yes". However, with one clear caveat: it will only be fun "after a lot of pain and suffering". On the one hand, this applies from a technical point of view: for example, endeavouring to get a grip on PLCA (PHY Level Collision Avoidance) latency is like trying to "hold three basketballs under water with two hands". On the other hand, 10BASE-T1S is a promising standard for the future, especially with regard to the development towards a centralised vehicle network based on Ethernet. However, the costs are currently still too high for a real breakthrough. However, the workshop was able to clear up the common misconception that a 10BASE-T1S-PHY is limited to a maximum of eight nodes and a maximum cable length of 25 metres: In fact, these are only the minimum specifications, which can be significantly exceeded depending on the network structure and equipment.

A similarly mixed picture emerged at the second training session on MACsec (Media Access Control Security) on the opening day of the AEC: The security standard is said to have bright prospects for the future, but there is still plenty of need for action and training in the present. Dr Lars Völker from Technica Engineering assumes that "MACsec will probably be used on all Ethernet connections in the future". In addition, a special automotive variant of the MACsec Key Agreement (MKA) for 10BASE-T1S buses is still missing for key provisioning, for example. Nevertheless, this topic is already being addressed by the OPEN Alliance.

Great success - and many unanswered questions

The AEC 2024, which was supported and moderated by Volvo, was characterised by success stories and high expectations for the future, but also by many unanswered questions and a great need for more cooperation and mutual support. The attendance was correspondingly high: with over 1,200 participants, speakers and exhibitors over the three days of the event, there was a new visitor record for the tenth anniversary.

Volvo is proceeding in two stages with the further development of the vehicle network, as Dr Martin Hiller explained in his keynote speech: Centralisation of the computing structures without major changes to the mechatronic elements will be followed by the introduction of a zone architecture with integration of the mechatronics as well. For Hiller, Ethernet is not just a transmission technology, but a system in its own right. That is why Volvo has a special team that deals exclusively with this topic. Even though Volvo is fundamentally convinced of Automotive Ethernet, Hiller concluded by presenting a "wish list" for the future, including faster wake-up times, an improved low-power mode and significantly higher bandwidths.

Patrice Ancel goes into even more detail when presenting BMW's Ethernet strategy. The first use of 10BASE-T1S in production vehicles is scheduled for 2025, the introduction of ASA-ML is planned for 2027 and the setup will be expanded to six cameras in 2029. BMW's entry into the zone architecture will begin with the "New Class" announced for 2025; an update with optimised zones, more Ethernet nodes and further standardised software platforms is planned for 2029. MACsec is to be available for all new models from 2025.

More collaboration desired

According to Dr Kirsten Matheus, BMW is not the first OEM to use ASA-ML in series production - but it is the first to make this decision public. The focus of her keynote speech is the new "ISAAC" standardisation project from IEEE 802.3, which is intended to enable asymmetric high-speed communication via Ethernet. However, it has not yet been decided whether one of the existing technologies should be further developed for this or whether a completely new development would make more sense. Matheus ended her keynote speech with an invitation to all interested parties to take part in this project - and is therefore in good company.

In their presentation, Gangolf Feiter (Concepts & Services Consulting) and Philip Meyer-Roessler (ZF), for example, called on the OPEN Alliance to collaborate with ISO in the area of secure high-speed communication for agricultural, forestry and mining vehicles. Chirag Malkan from Rockwell Automation, in turn, emphasised the common interests of automotive and industrial users. Specifically, 10BASE-T1S has proven its usefulness for automation. Conversely, the automotive sector could benefit from ODVA's experience with Single Pair Ethernet in control cabinet construction. Accordingly, there should also be co-operation on international standards.

The Plugfest, which ran parallel to the lecture programme, was about a special form of cooperation: here, a wide variety of semiconductor manufacturers and tool providers were able to test the interoperability of their MACsec solutions with regard to the MACsey Key Agreement. With a very satisfactory result, as Ionel Ghita (Keysight) reported. With a few exceptions, communication between the different providers worked perfectly. The remaining problems should be solved by the next Plugfest at the latest.

Wide range of topics

The wide range of topics covered at AEC 2024 also included focal points such as middleware & software-oriented architecture, use cases, security, PHY & cable harness, TSN and validation & testing. These included the question of whether and why SOME/IP will still be the right middleware for the next ten years (Technica, Renault), sophisticated lighting concepts with micro-pixel LEDs controlled via Ethernet (Volkswagen, University of Hannover) and the next generation of radar sensors in a zone architecture (Volvo, NXP). Visitors to the AEC were also able to find out about specific products and solutions at the accompanying exhibition, in which well over 40 companies took part.

Even if the concrete realisation of Automotive Ethernet projects is certainly not capable of triggering feelings of happiness - the participants of the tenth Automotive Ethernet Congress definitely had a lot of fun at a successful event.

We would like to take a moment to thank all our Partners, Exhibitors and Sponsors for joining us and making this event a success. Your support and commitment to our industry was instrumental in making the AEC 2024 an unforgettable experience for all attendees!

Partners of 2024

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