ASICs – The Need for Speed in Automotive IVI Development
By Ian Williams
More and more cars today offer In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) systems typically embedded in the rear-seat or dashboard. These integrated systems deliver entertainment, multimedia, and driver information in a single platform, which usually has three delivery formats; docking for smartphone integration, a fully enclosed platform tightly linked to vehicle development, and aftermarket to address vehicle upgrades. This growing phenomenon can create product life-cycle revenue streams as well as a path to remain engaged with customers over time. Nowadays, car buyers factor more than just a vehicle’s driving performance into their buying decision. With the growing dependence we all place on our smartphones, and how they keep us connected to the rest of the world, seamless integration of mobile devices into an automobile plays an important and influential role in how we evaluate new cars. Non-traditional automotive suppliers like Apple and Google clearly see the connected car as a huge opportunity. Early signs of their increasing interest and participation in this market are evident by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standards that enable IVI systems to act as displays and controllers for iOS and Android enabled smartphones. While cars are much more than smartphones on wheels, having all of our favorite smartphone functions and apps available to us while driving is a compelling value proposition. In automotive IVI systems semiconductor IPs such as USB, DDR/LPDDR, MIPI-D PHY, WiFi and Bluetooth are most suitable for integration with high-performance CPU and GPU cores to deliver the required system audio, video, and driver information functionality. There is also an increasing requirement to have all of these blocks integrated into a single chip. In addition to IVI systems, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are another fast growing automotive application. Designers of SoCs for ADAS applications require a combination of high-performance and power-efficient IP functions in order to deliver a complete solution. Here multimedia interfaces like HDMI will enable high-definition displays, and interface connectivity can be offered via IPs that supports PCIe and SATA protocols. According to a new report published by Allied Market Research, global IVI market is expected to reach $33.8 billion by 2022. The future growth of this segment will be fueled by new technology and growing demand from new markets for more sophisticated IVI systems in lower priced vehicles. For example, in the chart below, are a few key emerging trends for vehicle connectivity that could influence future architecture of IVI systems.
Source: Frost & Sullivan
Even though there are automotive industry alliances such as the GENIVI Alliance, a non-profit organization committed to driving the broad adoption of an IVI open-source development platform, a key driver for automakers is still product differentiation for both software and hardware. Not only in the infotainment sector, but also the Human Machine Interface (HMI) functionality such as WiFi connectivity, text-to-speech, 3D graphics, and voice and gesture recognition will also be major drivers of product differentiation. HMI requires modular, scalable system solutions that must be taken into consideration as early as the systems semiconductor specification stage. Additionally, IVI systems will become another platform for content availability and consumption. Customers will expect to have seamless access to content from their IVI platform. For vehicle manufacturers this is critically important as they search for solutions that will lower costs and complexity, while at the same time the need to innovate and integrate new technologies will continue to gain ground for in-vehicle systems. Along with mounting complexity, automotive manufacturers are also faced with compressed time-to-market cycles, reduced from 5 to 2 years, coupled with the pressure for mid-life-cycle platform refresh options. For an automaker, having an ASIC development partner capable of providing increased levels of integration with higher levels of functionality, while at the same time driving down production costs is a major asset. An automotive supplier must be able to deliver a product that can withstand the rigors of the automotive industry qualification standards such as AEC-Q100 and ISO/TS 16949. AEC-Q100 is a failure mechanism-based stress test qualification requirement for packaged ICs destined for automotive applications and most automobile manufacturers will require compliance even for in-cabin applications. Partnering with GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the leading automotive foundry who’s been supplying automotive grade wafers for more than 10 years provides designers with the confidence of automotive qualification expertise. The ability to deliver all of this emerging functionality into a compact form factor drives the need for increased ASIC integration in future IVI systems. Moving forward, there is also the potential for ADAS and IVI systems to merge as improved display technologies and capabilities focus on reducing driver visual distraction, pushing the need to have related content integrated onto the same screen including the capability for voice and gesture recognition. More frequently, to keep up with the constant pace of change in automotive IVI system functionality, designers traditionally look to suppliers who have access to an extensive library of automotive IC design IP, the capability to execute, the flexibility to offer cost-effective solutions, and the ability to meet the stringent automotive industry quality requirements. But the key differentiator moving forward will be the ability to achieve fast development cycles. INVECAS was formed to offer semiconductor IPs, Design Realization and Silicon Realization services exclusively for customers developing products based on GF’s process technologies. The way INVECAS adds the most value to our automotive customers is to help them with their ASIC needs. Being able to integrate their ASIC requirements and deliver an automotive qualified production part is how we move from vendor to partner. This is why partnering with INVECAS and GF on your next automotive project is important to help drive down the cost of various electronic modules and subsystems.