Certification ensures a smooth ride for in-vehicle audio/video streaming: Q&A with Rick Kreifeldt, President and Chairman, AVnu Alliance

February 1, 2013 OpenSystems Media

1With the increasing number and variety of infotainment applications being crammed into cars today, interoperability is becoming vitally important to guarantee that in-vehicle systems function reliably and deliver the anticipated user experience. Rick shares how the AVnu Alliance is helping ensure that all parts of the in-vehicle system work together consistently by maintaining a certification program for Audio Video Bridging (AVB) protocols and collaborating with the GENIVI Alliance on defining In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) specifications based on open-source technologies.

ECD: Provide an overview of the AVnu Alliance and its benefits to in-vehicle systems designers.

KREIFELDT: The AVnu Alliance certifies Audio Video Bridging (AVB) devices for interoperability. Member companies represent a broad swath of automotive technology – including OEMs, middleware, and silicon suppliers – along with companies in professional audio, video, and consumer electronics. By certifying AVB protocols, we provide a marketable assurance that AVnu-certified devices will interoperate. The AVnu Alliance helps foster a new networking ecosystem to offer member manufacturers and their customers practical advantages over legacy and proprietary systems in streaming A/V content.

Interoperability is particularly important in the automotive market. As in-vehicle systems get more complex, the number of components being integrated is increasing, which means more testing is needed to ensure that all parts of the system will interoperate. Working with the AVnu Alliance through the certification program eliminates system integration challenges and provides assurance that all parts of the complex network will communicate with each other. Also, the increasing number of applications in vehicles – such as infotainment, safety, and multiple cameras – is demanding cross-domain communications. Automotive systems designed with multiple applications rely on seamless communication to operate properly. This is a driving force behind the need for a reliable and standardized network infrastructure.

AVnu Alliance is essentially a one-stop shop for specifying interoperability. We’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on sophisticated compliance and testing, which no company could do on its own. Our certification program removes the guesswork by ensuring device interoperability and allows users of AVnu-certified AVB devices to implement end-to-end A/V networks that are much easier and less expensive to install.

ECD: What are the goals and objectives of the recently announced agreement between AVnu Alliance and GENIVI Alliance regarding IVI systems?

KREIFELDT: AVnu Alliance and GENIVI Alliance are working together to align software Ethernet requirements for In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) and related applications. This initiative furthers the efforts of both alliances in supporting compliance and interoperability through open-source technology. GENIVI has a large ecosystem and is a crucial part of the growing open-source movement. Because GENIVI does not standardize all software components, AVnu fills in the networking layer.

By working together, our organizations can share information to further collaborate on and define IVI specifications based on open-source platforms. Infotainment is rapidly changing and expanding, and now covers many types of vehicle entertainment applications including music, news, multimedia, navigation, telephony, and Internet services.

For automotive manufacturers planning to use AVnu-certified devices and the GENIVI platform, our joint agreement gives them the confidence that certified devices will interoperate and integrate seamlessly. When combining the open platform of the GENIVI system with Ethernet-based control and A/V streaming, the alliances will foster the next level of interoperability and integration between in-vehicle applications.

ECD: What technical standards or certification tests do you provide to ensure interoperability among IVI systems?

KREIFELDT: AVB is a suite of open standards designed specifically for the networked transport of audio and video media. The IEEE developed AVB because Ethernet as it existed at the time was not suitable for the demanding needs of A/V networking. AVB protocols include Precision Time Protocol (IEEE 802.1AS), Traffic Shaping (IEEE 802.1Q-2012 Clause 34 – FQTSS), Stream Reservation Protocol (IEEE 802.1Q-2012 Clause 35 – SRP), and AVB Configuration Protocol (IEEE 1722.1 – DECC), as well as standardized formats for audio and video (IEEE 1722 – AVTP and IEEE 1733).

While an organization like the IEEE is great at developing standards, guaranteeing interoperability and certifying conformance to those standards are not part of their charter. It is in the AVB certification process that the AVnu Alliance plays a strong role. Devices must pass testing criteria at an independent testing laboratory to bear an AVnu certification logo. AVnu certification is the last piece of the puzzle assuring that the multiple benefits of AVB are deployed in interoperable products in the marketplace, ultimately improving the end user’s experience.

Some AVB protocols are particularly significant for the automotive industry. Predictability and reliability are critical for complex automobile networks. One way to provide this is through Stream Reservation Protocol (SRP), which works with traffic shaping to prioritize media data over non-media data. With these mechanisms we can also address low latency. Utilizing AVB protocols, all parts of the network communicate with each other to reliably stream critical media data without interruptions.

Another important protocol is Precision Time Protocol (PTP), which provides an accurate and achievable common time base. Utilizing PTP makes distributed A/V systems possible by allowing separate signals to be transmitted and resynchronized. PTP also allows multiple streams to sync with each other. The AVB network supports multiple independent media sample rates, as the destination device will sync to the corresponding source device.

All of these AVB protocols are supported by AVnu Alliance and relate to the functionality of IVI. AVnu certification of these protocols provides a reliable network and assurance that all devices will interoperate seamlessly.

ECD: Looking ahead, what changes and technical advances in IVI systems can we expect in the next few years?

KREIFELDT: Designers of IVI systems are introducing innovative products all the time such as gesture control, eye tracking, surround view, and more. But these applications groan under the weight and high cost of the cabling necessary to deploy them. Video applications in particular are struggling with this problem. This is why an Ethernet-based AVB network with interoperable AVnu-certified devices is critical for realizing the full potential of IVI systems.

A converged Ethernet backbone is needed for increased networking between infotainment systems, active safety devices, engine control, and other car systems. Interoperable, AVnu-certified devices will enable the automotive market to capitalize on new opportunities and innovations.

Rick Kreifeldt is Chairman and President of AVnu Alliance, as well as VP of Research and Innovation at HARMAN International.

AVnu Alliance admin@AVnu.org www.AVnu.org

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