MIPI’s first spec for vehicles is based on Valens

The international organization MIPI Alliance, that develops interface specifications for the mobile industrie and includes most of the leading names in the electronics and chip industry, has released a new spec called MIPI A-PHY v1.0, which for the first time standardized the interface between the sensors and monitors in the vehicle and the computing units. The spec is designed to ensure the reliability of the in-vehicle safety and infotaiment systems. MIPI is mainly focuses on mobile interfaces, and A-PHY is the first spec it devised for the vehicle market, due to the importance of data link between in-vehicle systems.

The specification provides a common base for chip companies, camera and sensor manufacturers, software companies and auto-makers, for the development of integrated solutions in a uniform standard. The new standard is based entirely on the technology of the Israeli company Valens, which participated in the working group that formulated the standard. The group included about a dozen companies, selected from the roughly 330 members in the organization. Among the prominent companies in the group are Intel, Sony, Tectronics, ST, ON Semiconductor and others.

16Gbps along 15 meters

Valens’s VP of Marketing, Dana Zelitzki (a participant on behalf of the company in one of MIPI’s subgroups), explained to TechTime that the new standard is of great significance for MIPI and the industry as a whole. “MIPI dominates the mobile world, and it now wants to gain a similar footing in the automotive world. The goal is to produce a collection of solutions for all communication protocols in the vehicle environment. There are now working groups that are already working on additional standards.”

The A-PHY standard defines an architecture for fast and reliable asymmetric communication between vehicle systems on a single cable. Given the safety and performance requirements in the automotive world, the specification requires that the communication will have an ultra-low packet error rate (10-19 per communication package), ultra-high immunity to electromagnetic interference (EMC effects), and a data rate of 2-16 gigabits per second (Gbps) to a reach of up to 15 meters, with a future road map of up to 48Gbps in the future.

Zelitzki: “This standard will help simplify the interior architecture of the vehicle. Instead of having to use conversion components between different manufacturers’ hardware, manufacturers will be able to integrate the specification into the product during development, and ensure compatibility with all other products.”

The first product on the market that complies with the spec

In fact, the specification reflects the technology developed by Valens. The company’s communication chips enable to transmit uncompressed video and audio content, and data in various formats and protocols such as USB and Ethernet, at ultra-fast speeds and over a single Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) for up to 15 meters. This accommodates major hardware issues in the car, such as the excessive weight of cables in the vehicle and electromagnetic interferences that can impair signal quality.

Zelitzki: “This constitutes a very significant achievement for us, and also a great business potential. The whole industry is looking at MIPI, because it is the first standard that provides a solution for the interface between the vehicle and the sensors and cameras in it.” The standard is also compatible with Valens’s next-gen family of chips, VA7000, which is expected to hit the market in 2021 and provide uncompressed in-vehicle communications at speeds of up to 16Gbps.

The VA7000 chips are also designed to connect the sensory systems – such as cameras, LiDAR and radar – to the in-vehicle computing units. “The standard gives us a significant market advantage. The industry knows that the first product on the market that complies with the standard will be ours. We are focused now on execution in order to get the chips out to the market on schedule, and in building the ecosystem of companies such as camera and monitor manufacturers, that support the new standard.”

Daimler’s S-Class includes the previous Valens chip

Valens was founded in 2006 by a group of entrepreneurs from the company Mysticom and employs about 350 people, most of them in Hod Hasharon and the rest in the United States, Germany and East Asia. The technology was originally developed for the consumer electronic market. However, in January 2016 the company made a business shift and decided to adapt its technology to the needs of in-vehicle communications.

In late 2016, Valens announced a partnership with Daimler, which selected its previous chip, the VA6000, to provide the communication infrastructure for the entertainment and telematics systems in its cars. The 2021 S-Class models, launched a few weeks ago, already include Valens’s chips.

New Concept for In-Vehicle Storage

Micron Technology and Valens from Hod Hasharon, near Tel Aviv, demonstrated the first automotive industry’s 1TB remote, centralized storage solution at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Based on Micron’s ball grid array (BGA) solid-state NVME drive and Valens’ automotive connectivity technology, the combined solution is capable of tunneling PCIe over long distances on a single cable supporting up to 16Gbps of data transfer over low-cost, unshielded twisted pair wiring (UTP).

“Remote, centralized storage provides significant benefits over traditional local, distributed storage in automotive applications,” said Reinhard Weigl, Micron’s senior director of Automotive Marketing at Micron. “It enables better data protection and version control at a lower cost.” Micron is using Valens’ automotive VA608A chipset that delivers data transmission speeds of up to 16Gbps and enables automakers to extend native PCIe as a long-distance in-vehicle connectivity technology – up to 15m/50ft.

The VA608A is also the only chipset to enable 2.5Gb Ethernet over UTP wire. It enables a new concept for long-distance PCIe connectivity, and to utilize existing components without requiring a complete redesign of the vehicle’s architecture. Valens’ PCIe extension technology is designed for many use cases in the vehicle including telematics, multi-modem antennas (5G, WiFi, WiGig, BT, etc.),  ECU-to-ECU connectivity, and shared storage/black box storage.

Valens was established in 2015 with a goal to provide the fastest audio/video chipset technology to the automotive. Its patented HDBaseT technology was adopted by The MIPI Alliance as the baseline for its long-reach, high-speed connectivity A-PHY automotive application standard.

Linse Capital and Oppenheimer Invested $63M in Valens

In-car communication get extra fuel with the $63 million investment of Linse Capital and Oppenheimer Asset Management in Valens, the developer of HDBaseT high speed communication technology for the audiovisual and automotive markets. The company is looking to accelerate the development of its portfolio for the autonomous vehicles and address the ongoing requirements of its automotive partners.

Valens’ HDBaseT Automotive chipsets enable the transmission of high-throughput, time-sensitive applications over an HDBaseT Automotive link, revolutionizing in-vehicle connectivity. The Valens Automotive chipsets bring the convergence of audio & video, Ethernet, USB, controls and power over a single unshielded twisted pair cable. In June 2017 it announced the VA6000 HDBaseT Automotive integrated circuit. The VA6000 enables symmetric tunneling of multimedia content, with a speed of up to 6Gbps over a single unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable for up to 15 meters.

Since its latest funding in 2017, Valens, with strategic partnerships with leading OEMs and tier-1s, has identified significant opportunities in the autonomous sector. By raising additional capital, the company will be ramping up its activities in the sector, addressing in-vehicle high-performance computing, smart architectures and PCIe transmission, to realize the vision of the autonomous car.

ADAS System connected via HDBaseT Automotive communication chipset
ADAS System connected via HDBaseT Automotive communication chipset

“The autonomous and connected vehicles that automakers are designing today depend on advanced chipsets to enable high-speed data transmission, said Dror Jerushalmi, CEO and Co-Founder of Valens. “Our technology is leading the pack, optimizing in-vehicle connectivity to handle increased bandwidth with less complexity.” According to Michael Linse, Managing Director at Linse Capital, “Valens’ technology is ahead of its time and will revolutionize how car manufacturers design and deliver the autonomous and connected car of the future.”.”

“Oppenheimer recognizes that the rapid technological evolution happening in the automotive industry requires high-speed connectivity. Investing in Valens allows Oppenheimer’s clients to participate in that evolution,” said Robin Graham, Head of Technology Investment Banking at Oppenheimer. “We believe Valens’ technology will enable the automotive industry to meet the increasingly stringent design requirements of advanced connectivity and autonomous driving.”

HDBaseT Automotive chip technology enables unparalleled in-vehicle connectivity, converging audio & video, Ethernet, USB, controls, PCIe, and power over a single cable. This patented technology is used by the world’s largest audio/video component manufacturers and is promoted by the HDBaseT Alliance. Since its founding in 2010 by LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Valens, the Alliance has brought together the leading names in the consumer electronics, professional AV, industrial and automotive sectors, and it counts today with more than 200 members and thousands of products.