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A partial solution is a big step forward

John Day

John Day

Posted Aug 20, 2011

A partial solution usually implies a need for ongoing work until the problem at hand is finally solved, but that’s not the case with CAN (Controller Area Network) partial networking. Despite the name, it’s a major step forward in automotive efficiency, and it’s a lot closer than I realized until this week when NXP introduced a CAN transceiver (TJA1145) and an integrated system basis chip (UJA1168) that support CAN partial networking by enabling “selective wake-up” and “selective sleep” functionality.

“CAN partial networking is a real game-changing innovation in in-vehicle electronics, enabling a level of intelligent control over ECUs not previously possible,” said NXP senior vice president and general manager, automotive, in a statement.

That is because CAN partial networking gives design engineers precise control over a vehicle’s bus communication network so they can deactivate electronic control units (ECUs) that are not currently needed. It’s the automotive equivalent of shutting the lights off at home when there is no one in the room.

In current in-vehicle networking architectures, NXP explains, all ECUs are always active and consuming power when the vehicle is in use, even if the applications they control, like seat positioning, or trunk, door, window, or sun roof modules, aren’t continuously required.

CAN partial networking only activates ECUs when they are required. The other ECUs remain in a low-power mode until they are needed. This is expected to result in significant savings in power consumption, wiring, fuel economy, and CO2 emissions.

What I like about NXP’s announcement are the facts that engineering samples of the NXP devices are available now, and that the devices conform to two industry standards, ISO 11898-6 and AUTOSAR R3.2.1, also that automakers are moving ahead with the technology as we speak.

NXP notes that five major German automakers – Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen – have expressed keen interest in CAN partial networking. “CAN Partial Networking is an area where we see great potential for energy savings,” says Audi electrical/electronics managing director Ricky Hudi. “In addition, intelligent wake-up concepts improve the lifetime of ECUs and increase the operating reach of electrical vehicles. Audi and Volkswagen corporations have therefore started to introduce partial networking into the next generation of car models. Audi estimates a mid-term reduction potential on CO2 emissions of about 2.6 g/km and fuel savings of 0.11 litres/100km, when using CAN partial networking.”

Something else to which we can look forward.

TJA1145 CAN transceiver, Porsche, UJA1168 system basis chip, AUTOSAR R3.2.1, Audi, Volkswagen, ISO 11898-6, NXP Semiconductors, CAN partial networking, Daimler

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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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