Automotive Systems

Real time for FlexRay, CAN/CAN FD, LIN, BroadR-Reach, MDF and PCAPng

Automotive technologies have made giant leaps in the past few years. Software especially, has become an increasingly integral part for vehicle safety, comfort and driving assistance. This is accompanied by the rising advances in computer technology and standardized bus systems for the networking of individual vehicle components as well as relevant measurement data formats. Some of the most important bus systems are FlexRay, CAN/CAN FD, LIN and Automotive Ethernet, whereas for the storaging of measurement data, MDF and PCAPng are often employed.

Automotive in real time


The automotive field bus FlexRay is mainly used for sophisticated functions in modern automobiles. Due to its high transfer rate of 10 Mbit/s, FlexRay can be applied optimally for high-end features such as driver assistant and chassis control systems. Using dual-channel wiring the data rate can either be doubled or the second communication channel can provide redundant data transfer, which makes it possible for FlexRay to be implemented for safety-critical functions.

Real-Time capabilities for FlexRay enable automotive and test system manufacturers to efficiently test the above-mentioned car functions. For example, by employing guaranteed fast reaction times highly precise measurement data can be generated, thus achieving extremely accurate test results.


CAN (Controller Area Network) is a serial bus system, which was originally developed for control systems in the automobile industry. However, it is also highly suitable for the networking of intelligent electronic devices as well as sensors and actuators. CAN is a serial multi-master bus system, that implies that multiple CAN nodes can request an access simultaneously, but the order of the actual singular access of a node is determined during the access procedure. The ISO 11898 standardized bus system has real-time capability and uses two layers of the ISO/OSI reference model.

  • Low integration cost
  • Reliable even under strainful conditions
  • Exceptional real-time capabilitiest and easy usability

CAN communication mostly requires a stable, time equidistant data exchange as well as a fast reaction to external events. However, most of the CAN boards cannot fulfil these requirements, because the basic Windows drivers, which are included in the delivery can only be used from an application context and therefore, are not real-time capable. The CAN Module closes this gap and enables CAN communication in real-time.

The CAN Module from Kithara RealTime Suite provides solutions for automated processes that require real-time connections. The function library is especially suitable for developers and engineers that require time-critical processing of CAN messages.

Ixxat PCI

At transmission and receiving, the CAN messages are buffered through a simple and intuitive Application Programming Interface (API). It is possible to implement customized real-time message filters as well as error handling routines for predetermined bus events. A Listen-Only Mode is also possible. For straightforward monitoring, Kithara Kernel Tracer is can be used to trace the entire CAN data traffic within a microsecond resolution.

For maximum flexibility regarding CAN hardware, a real-time driver for common CAN boards of different manufacturers is provided, enabling manufacturer-independent programming.

CAN FD (Flexible Data Rate) is an extension of the CAN protocol that expands the payload capacity from 8 bytes to 64 bytes, thus achieving increased data rates of up to 8 times higher than classic CAN, without raising integration costs. The protocol also benefits from advanced data safety due to improvements to the cyclic redundancy check.

This is why CAN FD will have a set place in the future automotive development. For this the bus system requires a coherent high-performance real-time solution, which combines all interfaces involved in order to even allow for the implementation of many development and test processes.


The network protocol LIN (Local Interconnect Network) is widely used for its cost-efficient application in electronics of single components such as doors, hood, air conditioner, mirrors or wipers. It is often utilized for cheap implementation of functions since its one-wire cabling allows for significant cost savings in automotive electronics.

The LIN Module of Kithara RealTime Suite enables automotive and test system engineers to accurately develop and diagnose LIN networks. It fulfills high production and testing standards to optimally integrate LIN into vehicles. Due to the fact it has to be embedded into a higher-level network, the LIN master oftentimes is also a gateway to a CAN system, which is supported by Kithara as well. Programming can be done in C, C++, Delphi and C#.


BroadR-Reach is a pyhsical Ethernet transport layer specially for automotive networking. The benefits of Ethernet in automotive networking are extremely fast transmission rates, high scalability as well as cost efficiency regarding wiring and programming. This way, for instance, real-time Ethernet can be used as a central backbone network.

The implementation of BroadR-Reach closes the gap between the Kithara real-time Ethernet drivers and modern automotive wiring. With guaranteed reaction times thanks to the Kithara real-time system, data can be accurately captured and embedded into sopisticated test processes via the Ethernet transport layer. This enables automotive developers to directly access and test physical Ethernet networks in vehicles.

Due to the fact that BroadR-Reach defines a physical Ethernet transport layer, it exists as an extension of the Network Module within the RealTime Suite.

MDF (Measurement Data Format) and PCAPng

MDF is a binary file format for measurement tasks and is the defacto standard in the automotive industry. Defined by ASAM, this standard especially features a space-saving and flexibly configurable storage structure. This allows for data to be compressed, sorted and indexed with high efficiency, which heavily optimizes reading access, whereby file sizes can be freely scaled down or up respectively, with single file sizes even into the terabyte range. Due to a special allocation algorithm by Kithara, captured data can be stored fast and reliably into the complex structures of an MDF file.

Structured much more simply and supported by the freely available Wireshark, PCAPng is a file format for capturing data packets within networks. It allows developers to flexibly log, monitor and evaluate specific measurement data packets in file format.

The support of both file formats is based on the real-time data storage function of the Storage Module via NVMe SSDs.

Real time for automotive bus systems


Real-time automotive systems within the modular systems of Kithara RealTime Suite consist of the following components:

FlexRay Module

FlexRay communication in real time

  • Common
  • Features
  • Hardware-support
  • Erweiterungen

As part of the Kithara real-time extension, the FlexRay Module represents an essential link between test software and physical test system, which allows for the application of real-time capabilities with accurate cycles for high-precision operations.

With the FlexRay Module, a Windows PC can be utilized as an actual FlexRay node. This includes the assignment as leading or following node, as active or passive point of communication within the network. Both FlexRay channels can be configured independently from each other while it is possible to flexibly adjust their baud rate (2,5/5/10 Mbit/s).

Maximum of one port, above requires FlexRay Port Extension.

  • Real-time FlexRay communication
  • Independent configuration of FlexRay channels
  • Windows PC used as FlexRay node
  • Assignment as leading or following node
  • Baud rate flexibly adjustible (2,5/5/10 Mbit/s)
  • Requires RealTime Tasking Module

The following FlexRay cards are supported:

  • FlexCard PMC II (Star Cooperation)

These specifications always refer to the latest version of our software.

FlexRay Port Extension

Extension for using additional FlexRay ports

  • Extended Level: up to 4
  • Unlimited Level (requires Extended Level): unlimited

CAN Module

CAN communication in real-time

  • Common
  • Features
  • Hardware-support
  • Extensions

The CAN Module allows for real time for the fieldbus CAN (CAN 2.0B compatible). The API is manufacturer-independent, thus only a one-time initial training has to be done in order to program any CAN hardware.

The immediately reaction to receiving messages enables CallBack functions to respond immediately to failure situations. Even at high baud rates and bus loads, messages do not get lost thanks to large transmit and reception buffers. Additionally, it is possible to create filter routines, which can be executed directly by receiving messages.

For analytical tasks where the CAN interface needs to be completely passive, a listen-only mode is supported. Furthermore, by using a SJA1000 CAN controller, the “Error Code Capture” register can be read, allowing for further information and failure analysis.

Maximum of two CAN ports, above requires CAN Port Extension.

  • CAN data exchange in real-time
  • Support for CAN FD (Flexible Data Rates)
  • Instantaneous transmission and immediate reaction
  • Transmission and reception at kernel level possible
  • Customized filter routines through CallBack functions possible
  • Reception of messages either through Callback interrupt context, at kernel level, or polling process
  • Transmit and receive routines directly form real-time context callable
  • For utilization at kernel level, C/C++ or Delphi is required
  • Requires RealTime Tasking Module

The CAN Module currently supports PCI-based cards with 1, 2, or 4 channels by Peak, EMS Dr. Wünsche, ESD, Ixxat and Kvaser (see list below). On request, we will gladly implement support for your preferred card. The following list always refers to the latest version of our software:

Peak System

Star Cooperation (Eberspächer)

  • FlexCard PMC-II
    • FlexTiny II CAN-HS (D_CAN), dual to octo-channel, optional opto-uncoupled
    • FlexTiny II CAN-FD (M_TTCAN), dual to octo-channel, optional opto-uncoupled

EMS Dr. Thomas Wünsche

  • CPC-PCI, CPC-PCIe (single-, dual-, four-channel) and CPC-104P with SJA1000

ESD—Electronic System Design CAN-PCI

  • CAN-PCI /200/266, opto-uncoupled, single and dual-channel
  • CAN-PCIe /200, opto-uncoupled, single and dual-channel
  • CAN-PCI-104 /200, opto-uncoupled, single and dual-channel
  • CPCI-CAN /200, opto-uncoupled, single and dual-channel
  • PMC-CAN /266, opto-uncoupled, single and dual-channel


Kvaser Advanced CAN Solutions

The correct functioning of the software in conjunction with specific components cannot be entirely guaranteed due to the large number of potential hardware variations. For questions regarding the com­pa­ti­bil­ity with individual hardware configurations, please contact us.

CAN Port Extension

Extension for using additional CAN ports

  • Extended Level: up to 8
  • Unlimited Level (requires Extended Level): unlimited

CAN FD Extension

RealTime communication over CAN FD (Flexible Data Rate)

LIN Module

LIN communication in real-time

  • Common
  • Features
  • Hardware-support

The LIN Module of Kithara RealTime Suite allows for LIN communication in real time. With the support for the UART interface through the Serial Module as well as a suitable level converter, master and slave nodes can be created for LIN networks. This way, compared to using microcontrollers, existing LIN networks are easier to log and errors can be fixed more efficiently. Sending nodes automatically check their transmitted data, allowing for the detection of collisions.

  • LIN data exchange in real-time
  • Easy implementation of a master or slave node using a common PC
  • Bus collisions detection
  • Automatic checksum validation (LIN version 1.x and 2.x)
  • Data rates up to 20 kbit/s
  • Guaranteed latency times
  • Receive LIN messages either using callbacks or polling
  • In order to adapt to the electrical parameters of the LIN bus, a LIN transceiver is required.
  • Requires Serial Module, RealTime Tasking Module and LIN-Transceiver
  • UART (the use of common RS232 interfaces requires a level converter)
  • Peak PCAN-USB Pro
  • More on request

These specifications always refers to the latest version of our software.

MDF Module

Real-time data storage in MDF

  • Common
  • Features
  • Supported Hardware

The MDF Module allows for real-time data storage of complex hierarchically structured measurement data in Measurement Data Format. MDF 4.1 is a binary file format provided by ASAM for the evaluation or long-term storage of recorded and calculated data sets. The file size depends solely on the used hardware (meaning up to terabyte range).

  • Real-time data storage in MDF
  • Support for MDF 4.1, downward compatible to earlier versions
  • Writing of files with virtually any size (264 Bytes)
  • Storing of raw messages from the busses CAN, LIN, FlexRay and automotive Ethernet
  • Requires Storage Module

PCAPng Module

Real-time data storage in PCAPng format

  • Common
  • Features
  • Supported Hardware

The PCAPng Module (PCAP Next Generation) allows for real-time data storage of complex hierarchically structured measurement data in PCAPng format. PCAPng is a Wireshark-supported data format for capturing data packets within networks. This way, Wireshark is used for the later analysis of stored measurement data.

  • Real-time data storage in PCAPng format
  • Wireshark used for reading stored data sets such as measurement data or even image data
  • Requires Storage Module