NXP Acquires OmniPHY Targeting Auto Ethernet

The two companies will combine efforts to develop high-speed Ethernet connectivity for autonomous vehicles and their embedded applications.

Automotive semiconductor supplier NXP acquired OmniPHY, a provider of automotive Ethernet-subsystem technology. The company did not disclose the terms of the deal. OmniPHY expertise includes automotive Ethernet technology, which enables the consistent and rapid data transfers that autonomous vehicles (AVs) require.

The company specializes in high-speed automotive Ethernet IP and automotive qualified IP for 100BASE-T1 and 1000BASE-T1 standards. Over its six-year history, it has developed platforms for automotive and industrial Ethernet markets. Greater data capacity and faster speeds will be needed to meet the requirements of vehicles that are increasingly autonomous and connected. Upcoming autonomous driving systems will require data speeds at gigabit and greater levels.

The company’s interface IP and communication technology, when combined with NXP’s automotive portfolio, would result in a shop focused on automotive Ethernet. NXP enables secure connections and infrastructure for embedded applications and specializes in secure connected vehicles, end-to-end security and privacy and smart connected platforms.

The BMW Group was among the first to bring Ethernet to the road. By co-founding and taking a leading position in Open Alliance SiG, and by establishing Automotive Ethernet as a non-proprietary standard, NXP has worked to enable 100Mbit/s Ethernet-based architectures for OEMs, including BMW.

OmniPHY and NXP’s technology synergies will center on 1.25-28Gbit/s PHY designs and 10-, 100- and 1000BASE-T1 Ethernet in advanced processes, a joint release noted. “One of the vexing questions of the autonomous age is how to move data around the car as fast as possible,” Ian Riches, executive director in the Strategy Analytics global automotive practice, said in a statement. He noted cameras and displays will ramp the number of high-speed links in connected vehicles to 150 million by 2020. By 2030 autonomous car systems will swiftly drive that number to 1.1Bn high-speed links.

The emergence of new, higher-speed standards, of interoperability testing and of more vendors in participation is expected to encourage more auto makers to adopt Ethernet. It’s a factor crucial in order for Ethernet to lower its cost and to encourage competition.

Scale, speed and standardization are what make Ethernet an attractive technology for use in cars. While the major in-car networks may ship in the tens of millions each year, Ethernet gear rolls out in even greater volumes, so economies of scale can make it less expensive.

“Our heritage in vehicle networks is rich and with our leadership positions in CAN, LIN and FlexRay, we hold a unique viewpoint on automotive networks,” Alexander Tan, vice-president and general manager of Automotive Ethernet Solutions, NXP, said in a statement. “The team and technology from OmniPHY give us the missing piece in an extensive high-bandwidth networking portfolio.”

NXP Semiconductors has more than 30,000 employees in more than 30 countries and posted revenue of $9.26Bn in 2017, according to an NXP release. At the beginning of the year, the company announced an expanded Ethernet portfolio, including the TJA1102 PHY transceiver and SJA1105x Ethernet switch. The SJA1105x and TJA1102 can be used independently or together to form a Ethernet subsystem.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *