MOST looks beyond high-end systems with infotainment networking over UTP wiring

September 05, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The MOST Cooperation, a group of automotive suppliers that jointly supports the MOST infotainment networking standard, is preparing a low-cost HD multimedia network solution that especially targets the high-volume medium- and small-sized vehicle market. With the move, the group could open a growth path beyond its base in the automotive high end.

According to MOSTCO, the system in question will meet the requirements for mass-produced models in the mid-range and small cars sectors. It comprises a MOST50 infotainment system that includes a head unit, two interactive displays, an amplifier, and a camera. The electrical physical layer is based on a simple and low-cost unshielded twisted pair (UTP) of copper wires - much like the wiring system for Ethernet AVB, its most important competing technology. The remote control feature further simplifies the system and reduces cost, since the whole system needs only one single microcontroller, which is located in the head unit. This remote control feature allows the reduction of the number of microcontrollers and amount of memory in small and mid-size systems by obsoleting them in peripheral nodes such as displays, cameras, amplifiers and the like. Instead of having a microcontroller in each node, the other nodes can be controlled remotely by a central microcontroller - for example, the one in the head unit.

Fig. 1: MOSTCO goes mass markets with a new infotainment system design

"Omitting the other microcontrollers and memory can drive system cost down significantly," states MOSTCO Administrator Rainer Klos. "Performing all control centrally in the head unit also simplifies the development process considerably, as only one piece of software needs to be developed. Amplifiers and displays run without a local microcontroller and without local software." Besides significantly lowering costs on the side of the remote devices, this architecture helps to optimise system partitioning, board space, and even power dissipation in the remote device. Typical examples for peripheral devices are cameras and rear seat entertainment devices, including auxiliary I/Os, displays, etc.