Modern vehicles incorporate an increasing number of distributed compute nodes, resulting in the need for faster and more reliable in-vehicle networks. Time-triggered protocols such as FlexRay have been gaining ground as the standard for high-speed reliable communications in the automotive industry, marking a shift away from the event-triggered medium access used in controller area networks (CANs). These new standards enable the higher levels of determinism and reliability demanded from next-generation safety-critical applications. Advanced applications can benefit from tight coupling of the embedded computing units with the communication interface, thereby providing functionality beyond the FlexRay standard. Such an approach is highly suited to implementation on reconfigurable architectures. This paper describes a field-programmable gate array (FPGA)-based communication controller (CC) that features configurable extensions to provide functionality that is unavailable with standard implementations or off-the-shelf devices. It is implemented and verified on a Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA, integrated with both a logic-based hardware ECU and a fully fledged processor-based electronic control unit (ECU). Results show that the platform-centric implementation generates a highly efficient core in terms of power, performance, and resource utilization. We demonstrate that the flexible extensions help enable advanced applications that integrate features such as fault tolerance, timeliness, and security, with practical case studies. This tight integration between the controller, computational functions, and flexible extensions on the controller enables enhancements that open the door for exciting applications in future vehicles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Automotive Engineering
- Applied Mathematics
- Computer Networks and Communications
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering