Automotive Gateway IP Enabling Scalable Automotive Platforms

A growing number of sensors and data processing requirements are having a big impact on automotive Ethernet network and gateway function.


As automakers introduce new electronic platforms, the system architectures are changing from distributed ECUs to integrated domain compute modules. This evolution, along with the increased number and types of sensors for ADAS systems, is having a big impact on the automotive Ethernet network and gateway function. Automotive Ethernet and gateways do more than support mobile connectivity, they enable high-bandwidth automotive applications including key security and over-the-air software management functions. The gateway manages and distributes the data which ADAS and Infotainment and powertrain central domain controllers require, as seen in Figure 1. As car makers move toward fully automated driving, the high number of sensors and volume of data processing will dramatically increase the performance of automotive network and gateways. The adoption of new Ethernet Time Sensitive Networking (Ethernet TSN) protocols and increased network processing/packet processing functions along with higher bandwidth interfaces are requiring gateway SoC developers to enhance previous generation of automotive Ethernet switches to support new functions and capabilities. The high-performance IP solutions used by automotive SoCs become critical components for the success of next-generation automotive networks and gateways.

Figure 1: Automotive ADAS, infotainment, and powertrain domains

Automotive gateway

The automotive Ethernet switch SoC is the heart of an automotive gateway. The gateway SoC’s primary responsibility is to route data within the car on a path to reach its intended destination. Figure 2 shows the architecture of the gateway with the other application domains which it interacts. In addition to data routing, the gateway SoC’s additional key functions include protocol translation to/from multiple non-Ethernet automotive networks such as CAN, LIN, FlexRay and MIPI. The gateway SoC performs network management to configure the network, ECUs, and diagnostics. As new protocols are added including higher Ethernet data speeds and TSN use cases, the network management function of the gateway SoC will increase. In addition to network management, the gateway is a critical enabler of security management for the entire car. The security function includes firewall operation to filter network data based on security rules, security key management and protection against unauthorized intrusions. To execute the intrusion detection operations within the gateway SoCs, the SoCs are adding more complex and high-performance network processing operations. The increased packet processing functions allows the gateway SoC to perform deep packet inspection to monitor data payloads for security processing. Finally, the new generation of gateway SoCs must manage the remote Over-the-Air (OTA) firmware/software updates of the ECUs and centralized domain processing modules. OTA will allow automakers to update software applications without requiring a dealer service visit. OTA allows OEMs to remotely install new applications providing flexibility for car owners and new sources of revenue for automakers.

Figure 2: Key function of an automotive gateway

Managing Over-the-Air updates

Over-the-Air firmware/software updates is a key trend in the automotive industry. By interfacing directly to OEMs’ servers, SW can be updated without a dealer service visit. It allows OEMs to integrate additional hardware features in advance which can be turned on for increased revenue opportunities. OTA function management in the automotive gateway SoC requires additional end-to-end orchestration, authentication and encryption capabilities. Centralized management of in-vehicle OTA deployment makes use of a data management framework to utilize remote diagnostics and data analytics services which provides OEMs anonymous information regarding customer behavior.

Automotive gateway SoCs with OTA and Ethernet TSN capability

Figure 3 shows a block diagram of an automotive gateway SoC including high-performance 64-bit processor to support OTA functions. A critical feature of the SoC is to support real-time automotive Ethernet with Time Sensitive Networking. Ethernet TSN allows the SoC to perform time-aware traffic shaping and per-stream policing and scheduling. Moving beyond the original adoption of Ethernet Audio Video Bridging (AVB) for infotainment applications, the automotive industry has transitioned to using Ethernet TSN. Ethernet TSN provides additional capabilities including higher bandwidth, lower latency, and prioritizing data traffic for ADAS applications. For example, Ethernet TSN’s time-aware shaper function provides predictable guaranteed latency to ensure data traffic is unblocked. The preemption function is used to reduce the latency of time critical data streams and working together with per-stream filtering and policing allows Ethernet TSN to ensure policies can be set for bandwidth allocation and data prioritization. Obviously, safety-critical ADAS data must be set at a higher policy level compared to multi-media infotainment data. Ethernet TSN uses an enhanced precision timing protocol to synchronize clocks across the network to ensure real-time synchronization of automotive Ethernet data traffic. The enhanced generic precise timing protocol uses a grand master architecture to transmit clock timing information throughout the network to “listeners” on a segment of the network and then communicate to the other segments on the same network. The holistic adoption of the Ethernet TSN group of specs, which have been standardized by IEEE, allows the automotive Ethernet network and the gateway module to provide predictable, guaranteed latency by data traffic type to ensure the high priority data is available for ADAS applications.

Figure 3: Automotive Gateway SoC Block Diagram

Semiconductor suppliers like NXP, TI, and other industry leaders have announced gateway SoCs such as S32G Automotive Network Processor with SJA1105Q Ethernet Switch and DRA829V Gateway Controller with integrated Ethernet switching supporting from 5 to 8 GbE ports. The new generation of gateway SoCs contain a Hardware Security Module (HSM) to ensure secure communications. Since gateway designs from NXP, TI, and other industry leaders support ADAS applications, the gateway SoCs must manage safety-critical data, which requires the automotive network and gateway module and SoC to comply with ISO 26262 Functional Safety standards. In order to manage the functional safety of the SoC, new generations of SoCs include an integrated Safety Manager. The Safety Manager typically uses a dual-core lock-step embedded safety processor rated at ISO 26262 Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) level D safety rating, such as Synopsys DesignWare ARC EM Functional Safety Processors. The Safety Manager monitors the real-time safety status of the SoC to ensure the gateway module reacts safely to possible faults which may occur.

By providing SoC-level security, full ISO 262626 safety management and required packet processing and packet forwarding functions along with adoption of Ethernet TSN data management, the industry leaders are enabling new domain-based automotive architectures. Semiconductor SoCs for gateway functions are critical to successful production deployments. Since the gateway SoCs manage the increased data types and data bandwidth, the new automotive architecture is scalable for new automotive platforms that OEMs are defining. As the automotive networks scale to include higher data bandwidth and support new ADAS and automated driving applications, it is critical to enable the new class of gateway SoCs with optimal processor, safety managers, and interface IP solutions.


Semiconductor designers and IP providers in the automotive supply chain play a key role in enabling the new generation of automotive gateway SoCs. Gateway SoCs may contain a high number of third-party IP to implement key host processor supporting OTA applications, security, switching and advanced connectivity functions including Ethernet TSN. Although IP vendors have permeated the semiconductor ecosystem for consumer, mobile, PC, and communications applications, not all IP vendors can support stringent automotive-level requirements. As designers initiate their next-generation gateway SoCs, they must assess the IP vendors’ capability to provide ISO 26262 safety packages with ISO 26262 functional safety certification. IP suppliers with the commitment and resources to meet automotive industry requirements help ensure the success of automotive SoC suppliers, Tier 1s, and OEMs to meet the functionality, performance, quality, and reliability levels for gateway SoCs targeting 28-/22-nm, and 16-/14-/12-nm, 7-/8-nm FinFET technologies.

Web page: DesignWare IP for Automotive


Shaylee Packer says:

As you mentioned, as car makers move to fully automated driving, the high number of sensors and volume of data processing will increase the performance of the automotive network and gateways. This creates a need for more technology and capacity on the system. It would be interesting to be in the factory where this testing happens.

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