Arm launches hardware platforms for software-defined cars

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Arm unveiled some new tools for chipmakers and car makers to developed “software-defined” automobiles of the future.

Software-defined automobiles are those that can be reprogrammed for different functions using software, even after the cars ship to owners.

Cambridge, England-based Arm is working with major automobile suppliers and tech firms including AWS, Continental, Cariad, and more. The car features range from driver-assisted safety measures to self-driving cars. But the one thing they share in common is that they’re loaded with electronics.

The tech includes Scalable Open Architecture for Embedded Edge (SOAFEE), a software architecture and open-source reference implementation, brings the real-time and safety needs of automotive together with the advantages of a cloud-native approach.

Arm also unveiled two new reference hardware platforms that will enable automotive design experimentation and testing on high-performance Arm-based processors ahead of commercialization.

As vehicle architectures and capabilities evolve, automotive developers today are challenged by the increasing code complexity needed to deliver Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), In-vehicle Infotainment systems (IVI), electrified powertrains, and self-driving cars.

To meet these evolving consumer demands, computing must become more centralized, and software is increasingly critical to allowing this. The resulting changes to how software is being developed, deployed, and managed means that cloud-native development, best known for driving reductions in cost, time and complexity across the cloud infrastructure industry, is more applicable to automotive development than ever before, Arm said.

However, to address the software-defined needs of cars today quickly and seamlessly, it is imperative to deliver a standardized framework that enhances proven cloud-native technologies that work at scale with the real-time and safety features required in automotive applications. This same framework can also benefit other real-time and safety-critical use cases such as robotics and industrial automation.

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A roadmap

Above: Software-defined cars have to manage data from a lot of sensors.

Image Credit: Arm

SOAFEE is the result of automakers, system integrators, semiconductor, software, and cloud technology leaders getting together to define a new open-standards-based architecture for the software-defined vehicle.

In addition, the SOAFEE reference implementation, an implementation of the architecture defined by a Special Interest Group (SIG) of these leaders, will be free open-source software aimed at allowing broad prototyping, workload exploration, and early development. Arm is working with leading commercial solutions providers to maximize compatibility and provide a faster route to functionally safe designs.

SOAFEE now builds on earlier initiatives to enable cloud concepts like container orchestration with automotive functional safety and in real-time.

Shorter development times

Above: Software-defined cars can be managed via the cloud as well as edge computing.

Image Credit: Arm

The development timeline for new automotive applications needs to be as fast and seamless as possible. In the past, it tooks as much as five years to get new car technology into the latest automobiles.

The immediate availability of SOAFEE will empower cloud-based developers to apply their expertise and contribute to the future of mobility, built on Arm technology.

In partnership with ADLink, Arm is delivering a new SystemReady-compatible development platform to help accelerate time-to-market. The platform, powered by Arm Neoverse-based Ampere Altra cores, will allow workload exploration and development on Arm-based silicon using the SOAFEE reference software stack for applications such as cockpit, ADAS, powertrain and autonomous driving.

The development platform is comprised of a developer workstation plus a rugged in-vehicle product, and both are available for pre-order here, with general availability expected in Q4 2021.

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The AVA Developer Platform is a high-performance, 32-core scalable compute system built for lab-based development and is capable of running autonomous workloads. It allows developers to use accelerator hardware to complement high-performance central processing units (CPUs).

For in-vehicle prototyping and testing, the high-performance AVA-AP1 has 80 cores for increased CPU performance, extra input-output (IO) capabilities and includes a safety processor to enable in-vehicle execution using real sensors.

Software-defined functionality is a growing trend in many sectors, and the combined solution of SOAFEE and the new development platform will have applicability in other applications including robotics in application areas such as medicine, manufacturing, and logistics.

For automotive, software-defined functionality will deliver safe, new in-vehicle experiences and features that meet consumers’ demands and expectations, and crucially will unlock new revenue streams and customer engagement opportunities for automakers, tier ones, software vendors, and cloud service providers.

In addition to support from AWS, ADLink, Ampere, and CARIAD, the initiatives have received broad support from leaders across the supply chain including Apex.AI, Continental, Green Hills Software, Linaro, Marvell, MIH Consortium, Red Hat, SUSE, Woven Planet, Zing Robotics, and others.


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