Why automotive industry needs virtualization?
The automotive Infotainment Industry has evolved from having standalone systems for various functions like infotainment, telematics, and diagnostics to more integrated systems with connectivity being the key. We have seen silos being broken and systems being more interdependent and inter-connected, resulting in real-time, on demand services like Spotify and Connected Diagnostics among others.
The auto industry is at an inflection point and the key for success is going to be how Auto industry address the growing demand for connectivity, convenience and convergence (3Cs) i.e. connectivity of a smart device, convergence of a high end Cockpit and convenience/comfort of a luxury car.
The consumer industry has seen rapid innovation with short product life cycles ranging from 6 to 18 months. Consumer devices like Mobile phone, iPad have become feature rich with intuitive user experiences. The consumer who has experienced these devices is expecting the same experience in automotive cockpit.
Traditionally there has been one ECU per function in a car. Due to the demand of more features, OEMs have integrated multiple ECUs, resulting in explosion of ECUs in cars. The number of ECUs in high end cars has increased from close to 40 during late 2000 to 125+ now in high end cars. The consumer expects a feature packed cockpit at a lower cost. Hence, there is a pressure to optimize the cost of cockpit solution.
In order to fulfill the demands of the customer, we need to find a way that can potentially reduce costs, testing/integration efforts that come with complexity, maintaining the software integrity and security. A few years back, computer server industry was also facing a similar problem that was solved using virtualization.
Virtualization is the process of creating a software-based (or virtual) representation of something rather than a physical one, boosting efficiency and agility for all size businesses. The question is can the same solution which was used in Computer industry be used to solve the problem Automotive Industry is facing now. Some of the key requirements from a virtualization solution, also called as Hypervisor or Multi-visor in Auto industry are:
- Different levels of criticality, for e.g. IVI needs to have a greater tolerance for faults than an instrument cluster
- Fault tolerance and recovery i.e. failure in one system should not result in failure of other system
- Graphics, video , vehicle network has to optimized so that critical CAN messaged are processed in time and application prioritization can be done
There are two approaches for solving the above problem, first is to modify the Hypervisor, which will need validation and re-certification effort and second is to make change in guest OS, which will be less risky due to localization of faults/changes and flexible. Hence, we recommended approach of making changes to guest OS for adaptation to different application/cluster needs.
Rapid innovation in Semiconductor industry with emergence of high-end SoCs with powerful IPs including GPUs, DSPs, Hardware support for virtualization has enabled us to consolidate and functionally group the ECUs into various domains namely Cockpit domain, Power train domain, Safety domain, Body domain for e.g. Cockpit domain consolidates IVI, Instrument cluster, telematics control unit, Head up display functions.
We have developed a solution to consolidate the cockpit controller unit that includes mixed criticality functions like Instrument cluster having high criticality and medium criticality functions like IVI. Sasken’s solution comprises of an infotainment system based on AGL 3.0, leveraging the work done by open source community and a market proven digital instrument cluster. This is also driven by the fact that many of the high-end SOCs integrate units like modem, DSP in a single SOC.
This solution provides accelerated path towards developing a Cockpit domain controller using hypervisor, with the following benefits:-
- Decreased (BOM) and cost savings on sharing hardware resources
- Weight reduction resulting in improved fuel efficiency
- Reduced network complexity
- Reduced Software complexity
- Reduction in maintenance and integration costs
ECU Consolidation is an emerging trend and looks to be the only key to unlocking value in the next generation of smart cars.
Author: Debashis Panigrahi, Specialist (Telematics and V2X), Automotive Portfolio