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Expecting the unexpected

John Day

John Day

Posted Jul 30, 2012

Mazda’s SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY is an ambitious undertaking. The automaker set out to improve mileage, reduce emissions, and still design and manufacture vehicles that are fun to drive, and to achieve those potentially conflicting goals it “started with a clean sheet of paper and engineered every major component of the automobile to work together in efficient harmony.”

Mazda had its own CAN network design tool, but as part of its SKYACTIV makeover it selected Mentor Graphics’ Volcano Network Architect software to verify in-vehicle network bandwidth usage and ensure that network configurations will work even under worst case conditions. It’s good to be optimistic but it’s vital to expect the unexpected.

And Mazda’s use of VNA enabled significant improvements in network efficiency and reliability, according to those involved.

“VNA has unparalleled capabilities in enabling design, implementation and optimization of deterministic communication systems, leading to profound improvements in efficiency, quality, and reliability of in-vehicle networking,” says Mentor VP Serge Leef.  “We are pleased we have been able to provide a product to Mazda that makes the management and maintenance of their distributed network solutions more efficient.”

Mazda used VNA to analyze networking issues and make improvements based on the results. By entering network data generated from Mazda’s tools into the VNA, Mazda was able to identify which messages on the CAN bus caused problems.

VNA has optimization features to load up more than 90 percent of available network bandwidth. Mazda engineers used the analysis from VNA to optimize and verify that the network bandwidth is utilized to an increased level, but is not overstressed. They were able to increase network utilization and at the same time reduce both testing requirements and testing time significantly. Engineers could then apply what they learned to new network additions.

“Migrating from in-house design environment to Mentor Graphics Volcano Network Architect-based design environment moved smoothly and it reduced the testing requirements and time significantly,” said Tetsuhiro Yamashita, staff manager, Vehicle Development Division, Vehicle System Development Department, Mazda Motor Corporation. “We are happy to have improved our design quality, as well as our automotive network reliability.”

improve mileage, in-vehicle network, CAN network, SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, Volcano Network Architect, Mazda, reduce emissions

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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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