1394 Trade Association Announces 1394 CU Copper Automotive Standard

The 1394 Trade Association introduced the new 1394 Automotive specification for copper cabling media, designed to optimize the use of the 1394 (FireWire[tm]) standard in entertainment, environmental control, camera, and other in-vehicle applications. The new specification extends the original IDB-1394 Automotive Specification to include operation over cost-effective automotive-grade, high-performance copper cabling media. All of the features and mechanisms are provided for high-speed extensions with forward and backward compatibility enabling single-hop distances of up to eight meters through five or more in-line connectors. The specification covers the use of coaxial cable, shielded twisted pair, and shielded twisted quad media for critical non-safety vehicle functions such as multimedia and telematics applications at data rates of 400 Megabit/second or 800 Megabits/second.

The new document, which will be available from the 1394 Trade Association later this summer, includes details on ICs that are compatible and supplemental to the original IDB-1394 Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) products used in hybrid optical and electrical networks. It also applies to ICs for use in embedded vehicle systems networks and to attach clusters of embedded 1394 devices. The new specification also incorporates comprehensive improvements in power management specific to the automotive market.

The original IDB-1394 Automotive standard is an international data networking standard for transmitting video, audio, and other multimedia data over an in-vehicle network. It enables entertainment systems that can play DVDs, show digital TV programming, and provide access to the vehicle navigation system.

“Our new 1394 CU specification allows automakers to use copper media alone or in combination with optical fiber, depending on their requirements,” said Max Bassler of Littelfuse Inc., one of the leaders of the standards project in the Automotive Work Group. “It is a significant breakthrough in automotive technology, enabling information such as high-resolution navigation, entertainment, and safety features to be implemented over a single extensible network with excellent performance. Other, slower automotive network technologies work in specific niches. Only the 1394 Automotive standard offers a single, flexible and affordable solution for all requirements and applications.”

Bassler added that the new specification addresses the electromagnetic challenges that have previously limited copper’s application, in addition to extending distances — conservatively — to eight meters, and speeds up to 800 Megabits/second. Future versions of the specification are expected to extend operation to higher data rates such as 1.6 Gigabits/second and 3.2 Gigabits/second.

“This new specification truly emphasizes the value of FireWire in the vehicle,” said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association. “It can be used for a wide variety of different applications including entertainment systems, seat and mirror positioning, and heating/air conditioner settings, lane-change cameras, and rear-view cameras. We are at the threshold of a new generation of in-vehicle systems now, and 1394 will be playing a major role in their development.”

Auto manufacturers who contributed to the development of the new 1394 automotive specification include Ford, Nissan, PSA, Renault, Daimler and Honda. Suppliers and component manufacturers include Autosplice, Delphi, Ecqologic, Electronic Links, Foxconn, Fujitsu, Hosiden, Littelfuse, LSI, Molex, Rosenberger HF Technik, Texas Instruments, Tyco and Yazaki, along with Baxter Enterprises and WJR Consulting.

According to Ricardo Wong, assistant manager for multimedia planning at Nissan Corporation’s Advanced Engineering Center, “The new specification provides practical examples of attenuation budget with explicit indication of required electrical signal levels on the transmitter side. The standard addresses noise evaluations at the system level and the component level. Its proof of concept played a very important role in the evaluation and understanding of the main features of each of the connector and cable technologies.”

Known commercially as FireWire[tm] and i.LINK[tm], 1394 has been designed into a wide range of consumer, computer, industrial and other products since its inception, and is now emerging as a vital standard for automotive systems.

About 1394 Trade Association
The 1394 Trade Association is a worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement of the IEEE 1394 (FireWire) standard. The 1394TA recently celebrated its 13th year of promoting 1394 and its one billionth 1394 port shipped. FireWire is used today in mass-market computer, entertainment, and professional products, and in a wide range of specialty applications such as music, defense, aerospace, industrial, and robotics products.

FireWire is a trademark of Apple, licensed to the 1394 Trade Association. i.LINK is a trademark of Sony Corporation, licensed to the 1394 Trade Association.