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4G/LTE and audio developments expand auto capabilities as research shows connected car appeal
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4G/LTE and audio developments expand auto capabilities as research shows connected car appeal

Posted by Jeremy CowanJune 11, 2013

Canada, UK and USA Sierra Wireless has introduced the first in the AirPrime AR7 series of automotive-grade modules for LTE networks, while engineers at CSR plc have combined audio and connectivity to drive new auto applications. Now new Yankee Group analysis shows the popularity of connected cars.

Designed to support automotive telematics and infotainment systems, the Sierra Wireless AirPrime® AR7550 delivers LTE speeds and an advanced architecture for embedded wireless communications. The AirPrime® AR7550 embedded wireless module features the next generation multicore architecture Sierra Wireless introduced earlier this year, which provides a dedicated application processor, an open-source application framework, and secure cloud services to simplify wireless integration and help reduce development cost. The AirPrime AR7550 is specifically developed for the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network – America’s largest 4G LTE network, reportedly available to more than 90% of the US population.

Meanwhile, CSR has launched the CSRC9300™, the first auto-grade chipset to combine Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth® v4.0 connectivity with audio capabilities. CSR is a global provider of innovative silicon and software systems for the location-aware, media-rich, cloud-connected world. Among other markets, CSR’s platforms are said to be optimised for automotive navigation and infotainment.

4G LTE for in-vehicle connectivity

There is growing demand for the integration of 4G LTE technology into vehicles. The higher bandwidth and lower latency of 4G LTE deliver high performance in-vehicle wireless connectivity, meaning systems used for infotainment, navigation, and location-based services work more quickly and with less lag time. In addition, passengers can use the wireless connection for in-vehicle entertainment such as watching movies or playing games.

“Consumers and automotive manufacturers have come to appreciate the benefits of connected cars, including improved safety and maintenance,” said John Sullivan, executive director of the M2M Platform Group for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “The AirPrime automotive module for the Verizon LTE network provides a cost-effective solution that enables automotive OEMs to take advantage of the higher bandwidth, lower latency, and network longevity LTE offers to provide better real-time navigation, location-based services, and streaming media as well as other infotainment services.”

On the leading edge of network technologies, Verizon’s 4G LTE is a logical choice for the automotive  industry, where lengthy product development cycles and the expected longevity of a vehicle mean that OEMs require networking technology that is built for the future.

Sierra Wireless is a leading provider of LTE modules for integration into devices, having first delivered 4G LTE embedded modules in early 2011, including the MC7750 LTE/EVDO module for the Verizon Wireless network. The AirPrime AR7550 is part of the third generation of Sierra Wireless modules for LTE networks.

Multicore capability aim to offer an’ entire M2M ecosystem on a module’

The AirPrime AR7 offers an advanced, cost-effective solution for telematics and other in-vehicle connectivity needs. It includes a dedicated application processor to reduce design complexity and an application framework with specific automotive libraries to speed up development time. Additionally, integrated cloud connectivity simplifies ongoing management and maintenance over the lifetime of the vehicle. By eliminating the need for separate components to be sourced and assembled, the AR7 provides OEMs with simple and scalable wireless integration at a lower cost.

Automotive-grade for reliable long-term performance

Based on years of experience in working with automotive customers, Sierra Wireless developed the AirPrime AR7 module to meet demanding automotive manufacturing standards. It is designed and tested to real-world automotive scenarios, with TS 16949 certification, automotive quality processes (PPAP, 8D, FA) and low ppm rates, tolerance for extreme operating environments, and an extended operating temperature range of -40 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius.

With over a decade of experience, award-winning expertise and more than five million automotive-grade wireless modules shipped, Sierra Wireless is a market leader in wireless technologies for the automotive market.

“The AirPrime AR7 series leverages our expertise in both building devices for LTE networks and in providing modules that meet the needs of automotive OEMs,” said Didier Dutronc, SVP, M2M Embedded Solutions for Sierra Wireless. “Combined with the power of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, the AR7550 provides OEM customers with a simple, scalable way to build 4G into vehicles for both telematics and infotainment services.”

The Sierra Wireless AirPrime AR7550 module has achieved technical approval for operation on the Verizon Wireless network and samples are available to OEM customers now for testing and development purposes. Variants of the AirPrime AR7 module for LTE networks in other areas of the world are also sampling now.

Yankee Group Associate Analyst, Ryan Martin commented: “The news of Sierra Wireless’ latest M2M module and, more specifically, the connected car and its corresponding certification on Verizon’s LTE network, highlights a great option for automakers that seek a proven platform that delivers in-car connectivity over super fast LTE networks.

“At first blush, this may look like a big win for Verizon, as the news report suggests the companies have an exclusive arrangement. Upon further investigation with Sierra Wireless personnel, Yankee Group has learned that the arrangement is not exclusive — a similar module can be made available for AT&T’s network if desired. While drivers will still need to weigh the cost/benefit analysis of how their existing cellular subscriptions might change to account for in-car 4G, the AirPrime suite enables an uninterrupted connectivity experience. These units offer a high-speed data connection to LTE as well as the possibility to toggle to 2G/3G networks as needed while driving through poor coverage zones.”

Yankee Group comments

Yankee Group analysis of the connected car market

CSR combines audio and connectivity to drive connected car applications

CSR plc (LSE: CSR; NASDAQ: CSRE) has launched the CSRC9300™, the first auto-grade chipset to combine Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® v4.0 connectivity with audio capabilities. The complete solution will enable car manufacturers to deliver future connected car applications, such as Miracast over 5Ghz, and keyless entry using Bluetooth v4.0.

“Bluetooth is a major priority and we recognise that adoption of in-vehicle Wi-Fi is increasing,” says Thomas Carmody, head of Connectivity Marketing at CSR. “CSR is leading the way with CSRC9300, enabling our customers to easily create the connected car of the future. So we have created a chipset that combines CSR’s best of breed automotive grade Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.0 and audio technologies to allow us to support this growing market and enable our customers to differentiate their products.”

The solution will provide:

  • Next-generation Wi-Fi for high-bandwidth applications
  • Bluetooth v4.0 Smart Ready for the low-power connectivity ecosystem
  • Complementary audio, including aptX for high-fidelity wireless streaming

The CSRC9300 enables next-generation 5Ghz Wi-Fi connectivity with the 802.11a standard, which is set to support a number of exciting new applications for the car including in-vehicle video streaming. By moving high bandwidth demanding applications to the 5Ghz frequency, designers can avoid congestion on the 2.4Ghz frequency in the vehicle which is also used for Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart Ready communications. The chipset will also support the latest Wi-Fi features, including Wi-Fi direct and its services, which will enable more seamless Wi-Fi connectivity between cars and the latest smartphones on the market.

The chipset also contains Bluetooth v4.0 support which enables low-power connectivity and basic data transfer for applications previously limited by the power consumption, size constraints and complexity of other wireless standards. By including Bluetooth v4.0, the chipset will enable applications such as proximity and keyless entry applications. It will also allow consumers to securely connect to their cars, so they can have data such as lock/unlock status sent to their Bluetooth Smart Ready enabled smartphones.

In addition, the chipset incorporates audio offloading capabilities such as on-chip support for wideband speech codec processing, and Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) decoding for high-fidelity wireless audio. CSRC9300 will also include CSR’s award-winning aptX audio codec to ensure consumers can stream CD-quality audio over Bluetooth from aptX-enabled smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4.

By combining and optimising both software and hardware elements of the chipset, CSR has reduced engineering efforts for companies looking to integrate the device into next-generation designs. Existing customers can also reuse their software investment in existing CSR Bluetooth and Wi-Fi solutions, while migrating to the new solution, to enhance their existing designs.

The hardware components required to power the CSRC9300 have also been minimised, providing significant cost savings. CSRC9300 also offers a single, flexible solution for designers with a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capable device, as well as a Wi-Fi only variant in the same automotive grade package. Engineering samples for the CSRC9300 are now available.

Additional CSRC9300 product features:

  • Wi-Fi subsystem on the CSRC9300 is provided by a RAM firmware image, allowing customers the flexibility to introduce changes to the Wi-Fi operation of their systems
  • Concurrent network support on 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies gives designers additional flexibility in managing their in-vehicle wireless networks
  • Excellent Wi-Fi throughput performance
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi coexistence tailored for automotive use cases
  • CSRC9300 will be supported on important automotive platforms such as Linux, Windows Automotive, QNX and Android

 

Sierra Wireless (NASDAQ: SWIR) (TSX: SW)  offers a wide portfolio of 2G, 3G and 4G embedded modules and gateways, integrated with our secure M2M cloud services. Its customers worldwide include OEMs, enterprises, and mobile network operators. Sierra Wireless has more than 850 employees globally and has R&D centres in North America, Europe and Asia.

Verizon Wireless operates the USA’s largest 4G LTE network and largest 3G network. The company serves 98.9 million retail customers, including 93.2 million retail post-paid customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, with more than 73,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD).

CSR plc is a global provider of innovative silicon and software systems for the location-aware, media-rich, cloud-connected world. Its platforms are optimised for the automotive navigation and infotainment, digital cameras and imaging, connected home infotainment and wireless audio markets.

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Jeremy Cowan

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