Vehicle Networking Startup Ethernovia Secures $64 Million Funding
As validation of its technology, Ethernovia recently raised a large sum in its A-round financing.
The automotive industry is currently one of the most dynamic and fast-changing fields of technology there is. Today’s automobiles are virtually unrecognizable compared to what existed even ten years ago. All this is driven by the proliferation of sensors and computing as well as the general electrification of automotive systems.
Naturally, there are a number of technical challenges that arise out of vehicles becoming more intelligent and feature-rich. Among those is networking and system complexity. To address the growing problem of system and network complexity in the automobile, Ethernovia, a California-based startup, has been working hard at a solution. In support of their efforts, the company recently announced that they have successfully secured $64 million in A-round financing.
All About Circuits was pleased to speak with Ramin Shirani, Ethernovia’s co-founder and CEO, and Chris Mash, the company's VP of business development, to hear more about the news firsthand.
Modern Vehicles and Data
A major challenge in the automotive industry today is how to handle the massive amounts of data that exists within the modern-day vehicle.
There is a data explosion in modern automobiles. Image from GM Insights
One cause of this data influx is that today’s automobiles are marked by their significant increase in features, with technologies like ADAS and autonomous driving becoming more mainstream and widespread.
To support these new technologies, automotive designers have had to integrate more sensors and more computing into the vehicle, resulting in a huge amount of on-board data creation that must be handled within the vehicle. “What's really happening is that drivers are looking for more features into how the car operates,” says Mash. “There are more sensors and more data coming in that needs to move through the compute-side processing in the vehicle.”
By the same token, there is an increased desire for modern vehicles to support high levels of cloud connectivity. Ideas like cloud services and over-the-air (OTA) software updates have become the norm in vehicles, but they also contribute significantly to the massive influx of vehicle data.
The Challenge: System Complexity
Routing all of this data within the vehicle presents a significant technical challenge. To do this, most modern vehicles have adopted a domain-centric architecture. The domain-centric architecture works to silo different features and functions into spatially isolated locations, all of which are connected to central Electronic Control Units (ECUs).
Each individual function is treated as its own module with its own microcontroller, and the centralized ECU serves to oversee the individual modules. These ECUs are even further overseen by domain controllers, which consolidate ECUs and offer even greater compute.
Modern vehicle architectures result in significant complexity and cabling requirements. Image used courtesy of Ethernovia
The major challenge here is complexity. To connect each of these modules to ECUs, and ECUs to domain controllers requires significant amounts of cabling which is expensive, heavy, and a major point of failure in vehicles. Especially since each of these domains may operate on different protocols (for example, Ethernet, CAN, LINA), multiple wires are needed to connect all domains.
As Shirani explains “You might have four or five different ECU's connected to different domains and they've each got a separate set of wiring going back to their domain controller,” says Shirani. “So even though they're co-located, you're going to have multiple wires going to each of the controllers. It's not efficient—it lends itself to a complex wiring harness. And wiring harnesses are the third heaviest and third most expensive component in the vehicle.”
For vehicles to be scalable, they need a significant reduction in complexity. To this end, Ethernovia believes to have found a valuable solution.
In Ethernovia’s eyes, the solution lies in the adoption of Ethernet as a universal standard within the vehicle. “With Ethernet, you’re actually taking a really optimized methodology from an OEM perspective,” says Shirani. “It means that there are fewer ECUs in the vehicle.”
“Instead of having four or five wires going to a location in the car connected to different domains, all of those connections are connected into one ECU, which then aggregates all of that different domain traffic across the high-speed Ethernet backbone into our network or into the OEMs network for processing of the central compute.”
Ethernovia’s solution reduces complexity through Ethernet. Image used courtesy of Ethernovia
To do this, Ethernovia has been working to develop a seamless, holistic, and streamlined hardware and software system that enables Ethernet communication throughout the vehicle and results in a significant decrease in system complexity, cost, and weight.
Notably, Ethernovia is not providing the computing resources for these systems but is rather providing networking solutions. “We're not providing the CPU or the SoC, we use the automotive-specific devices out there,” says Mash. “We effectively are moving whatever data is in the vehicle from its generation point at the edge to its consumption point in the middle, and vice versa. So that's a range of Ethernet-based communication with all the hooks to move that data in a very efficient way from the network into the compute resources, wherever they're located.”
$64 Million Fundraising Success
Now, to validate their efforts, Ethernovia has recently announced the completion of a $64 million in A-round financing. As part of this financing round, the company received investment from the likes of Porsche, Qualcomm Ventures, AMD Ventures, and more.
With this new money, the company is planning to build out its teams and scale aggressively. Speaking to the company’s future, Shirani says: “I really think we can scale this to hopefully one day be a path into being the next Marvell or Broadcom.”