Automotive digital technology is spreading rapidly through the industry and among vehicle platforms. Premium EVs such as Tesla Models S and X, with semi-autonomous driving potential, signal what today’s technology promises. But it isn’t just the top-range products that are adopting such capabilities.
Recently the Renault Nissan Alliance announced a collaboration with ARM, the semiconductor and software design company, to open the software and hardware architecture of Renault's Twizy electric city car—a tandem two-seater powered by a 6.1 kW·h lithium-ion battery and 13-kW traction motor driving the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.
“Open-source development enables new features to be developed faster and with more scope for customization,” explained Richard York, ARM’s Vice President Embedded Marketing. ARM’s chips are used by several industries, with auto applications embracing in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) to ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) and emergency braking.
York cites a new study from Juniper Research which concludes that over the next five years, data from connected car infotainment and telematics, will comprise up to 98% of all machine-to-machine (M2M) data traffic, a change well inside the typical car model production lifecycle.
IVI chip creators like ARM face technical challenges including thermal, area, and power constraints. A problem is the diversity of performance requirements that digital-centric cars present including powering large screens, enabling tactile feedback, displaying multiple apps coming from multiple sources etc.
"The lessons of decades of mobile design are being applied to automotive," York said, adding that ARM’s low power processors enable sustained high performance throughout the IVI experience. Analysts predict that the on-board computing power of a normal sedan will increase by 100x from 2016 to 2025, powering ADAS and integrated cockpit functions.
“The range of functions in the so-called ‘fusion’ controllers means that "a broad ecosystem is required to deliver specialized computing in each area,” York noted.