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CAN bit rates beyond 1MBps

May 16th, 2011 Comments off

For many years the maximum bit rate of CAN (Controller Area Network) has been 1Mbps. Not only was it a maximum for the bit rate, it also resulted in a “touchy” physical layout: cable length restrictions were as low as 30m.

The limits of speed vs. cable length comes from the requirement, that in CAN a bit needs to be stable on the entire bus, before the next bit may start. Some bits can be over-written, a feature which is used for arbitration, acknowledgments and error handling.

Bosch, the inventor of CAN, now introduced a white paper “CAN with Flexible Data-Rate” showing how a higher data rate can be achieved. The main suggested feature here is to allow switching between a low (backward compatible) bit rate and a much higher bit rate within a single message.

In short, a single CAN message consist of control data at the beginning and the end of a message with the data field “in the middle”. The core idea is to use the lower bit rate for the control data and the higher bit rate for the data field only. In addition the maximum data field size is increased from previously 8 bytes to now 64 bytes.

If the higher bit rate is 8 times higher than that of the base rate it would be possible to achieve an 8 times higher data-throughput WITHOUT changing the real-time behavior.

For more info, see the white paper at:

Categories: CAN Tags: ,
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