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A movie theater on wheels

John Day

John Day

Posted Jul 29, 2011

National Semiconductor, which we might not hear from all that much longer, since it’s becoming part of Texas Instruments, announced this week that Audi will include National’s FPD-Link III Ser/Des automotive infotainment chipset in the 2012 Audi A3.

Other Audi models are expected to get the current-generation chipset, though there was no specific word on which models or when. National says earlier FPD-Link devices are currently in use across the Audi vehicle lineup.

National says its chipset “enables vivid graphics and content-protected high-definition (HD) video to be distributed throughout the vehicle, creating a movie theater-like experience for passengers.” I want one of those.

The chipset allows uncompressed HD video, as well as audio, clocking, and encrypted key exchange, to be distributed over a single twisted pair cable from the vehicle’s Multi Media Interface (MMI®) central processing unit to high-resolution displays “spread throughout the front and rear of the vehicle.” That can include driver-assist video cameras and a navigation screen as well as passenger entertainment.

National also says its FPD-Link III technology is one of only a few to be accepted by the Digital Content Protection (DCP, LLC), the licensing body for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) as an approved HDCP technology. Blu-ray movies or 3D map data should be safe from hacking.

Audi isn’t currently touting its HD video capability, but Dr. Peter Steiner, Audi’s head of infotainment, says the goal of the partnership with National is offering premium HD digital video across the Audi vehicle range. “National’s system integration expertise and flexibility in supporting interface solutions compatible with the industry-leading graphics processors of the Audi MMI are both invaluable in achieving this goal,” he says.

I’m a bit concerned about spilling popcorn on the seat, but I suppose it’s inevitable. I’m impressed that they can deliver the experience over twisted pair.

National Semiconductor, Multi Media Interface (MMI), Texas Instruments, Blu-ray movies, Digital Content Protection LLC, 2012 Audi A3, high definition video, High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), Dr. Peter Steiner, FPD-Link III Ser/Des automotive infotainment chipset

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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