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Embedded World 2017

CAN FD: Products appear quick and slowly

The tradeshow in Nuremberg confirmed it: The automotive industry has adopted CAN FD quickly, while the non-automotive device suppliers are still waiting for chips.

The Picoscope 6 software decodes CAN FD frames (Photo: Pico Technology)

The international standardization of CAN FD has been nearly finalized. The data link layer is specified in ISO 11898-1:2015 and the physical layer is standardized in ISO 11898-2:2016. Many chipmakers showed in Nuremberg at the Embedded World 2017 their CAN FD controllers and transceivers. Most of the automotive micro-controllers providing CAN FD support are available in engineering samples. Serial production will start within this or beginning of the next year. Even dedicated bridge integrated circuits (IC) support CAN FD – for example Toshiba’s TC9560XBG/AXBG provides optionally two CAN FD ports. This chip is suitable for telematics, infotainment, instrument cluster, and head unit applications.

But be careful: Not all products have implemented the ISO CAN FD protocol. Some companies still provide non-ISO CAN FD products. Sometimes they have fancy names such as CAN FD 1.0 (Cypress FM4 micro-controllers). More badly some Tier-1 suppliers use for proprietary purposes deeply embedded non-ISO CAN FD networks. This gives the toolmakers headache. They have to support two protocols, ISO CAN FD and non-ISO CAN FD.

The CanAnalyser 3 Suite supports CAN FD (Photo: HMS)

Nevertheless, the toolmakers are prepared: Even the late birds presented in Nuremberg their CAN FD products. Pico Technology launched a CAN FD decoder for its Picoscope oscilloscopes. This free-of-charge software features serial decoding, channel math, mask limit testing, and spectrum analysis, while maintaining a display with easy-to-use controls. “Now Picoscope 6 can also decode CAN FD, which is the latest and fastest version of CAN bus used in automotive and industrial automation applications,” said Trevor Smith from Picoscope Technology. Serial decoding is an essential function of the Windows PC software, which allows seeing the decoded data on the same time-base as the analog waveforms. Bit fields within frames are color-coded for easier identification, with errors highlighted in red. Click on a decoded frame, and the oscilloscope instantly highlights the same data in a table below the waveform. The user can search and sort the decoded data, export it in text format, and display optional measurements such as peak voltage, packet duration, and start and stop times. Competitor, Acute, will also provide soon a CAN FD decoder for its Travelscope series. Additionally, the Taiwanese company offers the Travelbus PC-based analyzing tools. They feature two CAN ports and in the near future also CAN FD.

The CANopen FD demonstrator comprised several CAN FD modules from different manufacturers (Photo: CiA)

Schleissheimer presented in Nuremberg the CAN FD variant of its CanEasy analyzer tool. The Windows-based software tool is compatible with CAN FD interface boards from HMS and Vector. The tool records and simulates CAN FD communication. HMS/Ixxat offers this product as well as its own CanAnalyser 3 Suite, which supports of course Classical CAN and CAN FD.

Industrial CAN FD: Still waiting on MCUs

Most impressive was the CANopen FD demonstrator on the CiA booth. Emtas, Esacademy, ESD, HMS, and Microcontrol showed an improved CANopen FD system supporting the new USDO protocol. The network runs two Mbit/s in the dataphase. The main challenge was to get embedded controllers featuring CAN FD connectivity in time. NXP and STM provided evaluation boards for their MCUs with CAN FD interfaces. ESD used its own CAN FD implementation in its ACC chip. HMS integrated one of its CAN FD hardware modules.

Cyber security for CAN FD was presented at different stands (Photo: CiA)

In general, the non-automotive users are still looking for CAN FD hardware. NXP and STM are still sampling just a few customers. STM promised to start general sampling by April and serial production later on in this year. Cypress and Infineon have no plans to provide CAN FD in its industrial MCU products. Infineon implemented non-ISO CAN FD, but even such micro-controllers are no more available, said the booth staff at Embedded World. This hurts in particular sensor providers and makers of small drives, because they need simple micro-controllers limited in size and at low costs. FPGA implementations are not an alternative. They are suitable for host interface boards. At the Embedded World, Microsemi promoted its cooperation with Cast, one of the CAN FD core providers.

Hot topic: Cyber security for CAN

Bosch demonstrated its safety solution for Classical CAN and CAN FD on its booth in Nuremberg. This approach uses the CAN arbitration method to hide the key distribution to attackers. It was presented in more detail at the 15th iCC in Vienna in 2015 and in the CAN FD Symposium by Vector this year. NXP did not show its CAN transceivers with security functions in Nuremberg. Secure software solutions were shown on several stands. Olaf Pfeiffer presented a sample of his CANscyrpt book on the CiA booth. This approach was mainly developed for CANopen. One of the requester is the SIG car add-on devices.


Not just in the exhibition halls, CAN welcomed the visitors embedded in the entrance gates (Photo: CiA)

Embedded World 2017: More than 1000 exhibitors

The fifteenth edition of the tradeshow focusing on embedded system technologies has reached its next milestone: more than 1000 exhibitors. Of course, not all of them presented CAN-based products. The accompanying conference discussed IoT as well as safety and security topics. Olaf Pfeiffer presented for example its CANscrypt framework for authentication and encryption.

In general, exhibiting CiA members were satisfied with the success of this exhibition. “This was the best Embedded World of the last years,” was the general tenor. This was not just because of the quantity of talks, but also due to the quality meaning the discussions on projects. Also on the CiA booth, there was high interest on CANopen FD: Where I can get industrial micro-controllers with CAN FD was one of the most heart questions. As usual, many visitors had dedicated questions on very specific topics ranging from outer space applications to real daily work challenges in designing CAN physical networks.

The last of the three exhibition days was the Student Day. About one thousand students were participating in the embedded-related courses. Some traveled long distances from all over Europe. The goal was to locate work placements in innovative companies. The Student Day was organized the eighth time.