How new digital platforms are changing the path of the car of tomorrow

Dealing with automotive software development today means dealing with technology that is partly outdated. Bus systems such as CAN or FlexRay dominate the development without considering the increased demands on modern overall vehicle development. But it's not only the world and car tires that are turning - there are new trends and prospects in the industry that inspire hope. After all, tomorrow's hardware and software will look different from what we find in current production vehicles. And that's a good thing, because the demands on vehicles that are becoming increasingly digital are growing. Here we are not just talking about what we see at first glance. Mostly under the surface, video streams want to be processed, data from radar systems and real-time communication channels want to be evaluated.

Gone are the days when solutions were traditionally processed using individual signals. Streams and event-driven communication determine the daily events in the automobile. Software is playing an increasingly important role and always wants to be up to date! For this to be possible at all, even after delivery of the vehicle, the required software components must be decoupled from each other.

Embedded High Performance Computing (HPC) comes into play to minimize performance and integration requirements: Various system-on-chip solutions (SoCs) optimized for special tasks bundle calculations in a physical unit with fast connections. This centralized approach already exists, for example in the chips for graphics, security, A.I. etc. that can be found in modern smartphones.

So, what exactly is embedded high performance computing?

Wikipedia does the important groundwork in the formulation question: "High Performance Computing (HPC) is an area of computer-aided computing. It includes all computing work that requires high computing power or memory capacity to process."

An HPC represents server and client at the same time, according to the principle known from IT of transferring computing power to IT centers. In this way, provider services can be made available, but also services of other installed HPCs in the vehicle can be used or connections to the Internet can be established. The overall functionality ultimately consists of the connection of all services used.

The circle to the increasingly digital vehicle and thus the introduction of IT in the car is closing here. In order to effectively implement the necessary mechanisms, high demands are placed on safety and security.

Which advantages does High Performance Computing provide?

In order to explain the advantages of HPC, it is necessary to take a look at the past, or at the basic structure in the vehicle, where new hardware all too often had to be installed for new functions. Almost inevitably, this leads to a confusing overall concept in which functions run redundantly and performance potentials remain untapped. And yet many of these networks, like the underlying microprocessors, are gradually reaching their limits. This is where High Performance Computing offers solutions. Systems remain scalable thanks to powerful hardware, but above all the separation of resources by means of virtualization. The logic of an entire vehicle can be mapped in a few HPCs, in contrast to the pure raw data supply of conventional sensors. Viewing and combining all data of the vehicle, high available computing power, distribution or even outsourcing of functions to computers: This results in the possibility to update applications over-the-air. So, finally an end to the replacement of the complete hardware, with all the disadvantages in development, testing and waiting times (plus annoyance) for customers.

What exactly can High Performance Computing do?

Be a pioneer, remain scalable, be updatable. Time to think one step further: Paving the way to the vehicle as a hardware platform for state-of-the-art software. This is the prerequisite for future mobility concepts such as autonomous driving or mobility as a service. Complete networking of the vehicle offers completely new possibilities for vehicle design and new functions. High Performance Computing makes innovations in the industry possible in the first place.

How does Cognizant Mobility use high performance computing in vehicle development?

As a modern player in a changing industry, Cognizant Mobility combines development skills that are absolutely essential:

  • System-side definition of interfaces and services (e.g. with PREEvision) on the HPCs and for back-end services
  • Expertise in C++
  • Use of automotive-specific paradigms (architecture/design patterns
  • Object-oriented development and compliance with safety and security
  • Combining agile methods with Automotive SPICE
High Performance Computing and the coming decades of a mobile future

If you are interested in current trends in vehicle development, the question of interest usually includes the question of what will happen afterwards: What comes after High Performance Computing? How will the industry develop? Are partners from the industry equipped with the important ability to look ahead in order to recognize new insights on the digital horizon?

The specialists at Cognizant Mobility see High Performance Computing as one of the paths to the future. Vehicles can become more autonomous step by step. Customers can equip their vehicles with new functions independently, similar to adding new apps on a smartphone. This enables completely new business models - but also requires a rethink on the part of end customers, especially with regard to owning their own vehicles.

New mobile phone standards that exchange real-time data with vehicles are also future models. For example functions, including those relating to the lifetime of the vehicle, can be outsourced to a cloud infrastructure and even developed there initially. The need for computing capacity in the vehicle is decreasing, and performance can be scaled where it is needed, namely in the data center. A breath of fresh air for an industry whose doors are thus also opening for start-ups and new business models to expand the "vehicle platform" in order to generate real added value for customers.

In A Nutshell

  • E/E Embedded Software Development
  • SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)
  • POSIX Operating Systems
  • Cyber Security
  • C, C++
  • CAN, FR, LIN, Ethernet
  • Adaptive AUTOSAR
  • Functional Safety
Jens Schmidt
Head of Cognizant Mobility Fulda

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