Zonal EE Architecture: Towards a Fully Automotive Ethernet-Based Vehicle Infrastructure
Current automotive electrical/electronic (EE) architectures with a myriad of electronic control units (ECUs) and one central vehicle gateway have grown over time and became very complex. The wiring harness for the network of such an architecture usually develops to the 3rd heaviest and costly component in the vehicle with up to 50kg and a total length of up to 5 km. Today’s trends in automated driving will further increase the demand on the wiring harness by adding more ECUs, i.e., actuators and sensors. In the past, ECU consolidation was one of the industry response to reduce complexity, amongst others. Especially in the area of ADAS and Cockpit Electronics dedicated Domain Controllers replace several ECUs. In the future, Automotive Ethernet goes further and allows for an even more radical change in automotive EE architecture, resulting in a significant reduction of wiring harness length, weight, cost and complexity.
The wiring harness in a vehicle will change totally with a zonal EE architecture, due to the TSN protocol and a consequent introduction of an IP-based end-to-end real-time communication enabling a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) software approach. ECU consolidations and the alignment of the power distribution with data exchange in the new EE architecture will further contribute to the benefits in weight and costs. Therefore, we propose a new category of automotive ECU and coin them “Zonal Gateways”. These ECUs will provide access to legacy car networks like CAN and LIN, switch functionality to Ethernet devices as well as power distribution support, such as load sensing and protection. A redundant Ethernet backbone architecture, e.g. ring structure, together with TSN support will ensure safety and robustness to attain higher ASIL levels. Investigations on zonal EE architectures indicate a high potential reducing the wiring harness length up to 50% and more. Additionally, the decomposition of the wiring harness into sub harnesses with lower complexity and smaller physical extent will allow for less expensive and automated production.
Since more than 7 years, Visteon investigates in the area of multi domain consolidation resulting in the development of the world-first Cockpit Domain Controller (Cluster & IVI), which is in production with an German OEM since 2018. Furthermore, an ADAS Domain Controller is in a product development phase. Most recently, we are working on the topic of zonal EE architectures and the design of Zonal Gateways for data exchange and power distribution in collaboration with several OEMs and suppliers.
In this presentation we discuss the current trends and demands of the automotive industry pointing to future zonal EE architectures. We will fathom and articulate the underlying problems and show the way towards a fully IP-based vehicle communication infrastructure.