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Marvell Targets Automotive Networks

August 22, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

Marvell intends to prove to skeptics it can make inroads in automotive networking, pushing back Broadcom, Qualcomm, and other entrenched players. In less than a month, it sampled two new chips: the 88W8987xA, which combines 802.11p, 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 5 wireless, as well as the 88Q5050, a secure eight-port switch for intra-auto Gigabit Ethernet.

The company says its four automotive-chip generations, beginning in telematics and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), already rank it among mature suppliers. But a lack of mixed-signal products and a dedicated processor for IVI, vision, or advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) has relegated Marvell to also-ran status. We nevertheless rank it second behind Broadcom in worldwide GbE switch revenue, garnering a 22% share in 2016.

Thanks in large part to attempted hacks of autonomous vehicles, new automotive Ethernet switches are designed with security in mind. Marvell believes all car subnetworks, including engine control and drive train, will eventually standardize on Ethernet. Its new 88Q5050 switch builds on the enterprise-oriented 88E690X LinkStreet. But in automotive Ethernet, each MAC address must be white- or blacklisted for node authenticity, requiring more MAC logic. Augmenting the chip’s 250MHz ARM Cortex-M7, which packs enhanced DSP features compared with many Cortex designs, is a deep-packet-inspection engine similar to those in firewalls. Software-based DDoS prevention is included, as is hardware-based secure boot and tamper resistance.

Marvell says it’s a market insider ready to tackle Ethernet-centric piloted and autonomous vehicles. It must still overcome Broadcom’s dominance in Ethernet switches and Qualcomm’s dominance in wireless. But the company’s network-backbone strategy is set to win market share in automotive networks.

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