Next Generation Automotive Architecture - Domain Computing

By Stefan Drouzas

Business Project Management

October 10, 2018


Next Generation Automotive Architecture - Domain Computing

Innovative operating concepts are a differentiating feature for car manufacturers where displays play a central role.

Today’s vehicles have so much technology packed inside that automotive displays are now a vital requirement and are influenced by their broad acceptance in the consumer market. Users want to be able to use their displays as they would outside of their vehicles and in conjunction with their mobile devices. 

Innovative operating concepts are a differentiating feature for car manufacturers where displays play a central role, the number of displays is growing and their resolutions and sizes are increasing at a rapid rate.

Instrument clusters, head-up displays, central information display, mirror replacement, passenger display, rear-seat entertainment, various controls on the doors or accessing air conditioning, are all different display applications currently used in cars. The requirements that these displays have to meet are just as varied as the different types of applications that use them.  The instrument cluster or the head-up display in particular, are subject to strict safety requirements in accordance with the ASIL standard. Other displays require certain decoding mechanisms in order to be allowed to display protected content, for example, in accordance with the HDCP standard. In some cases, displays must provide a minimum level of protection against tampering.

So much data in so many different forms

An approach that can be used to meet these requirements in cars is domain computing architecture. This architecture allows several displays to be controlled within one area, i.e. a domain from a central unit, an HMI computer. Remote displays are connected to the central unit via a high-speed video link. This video link is not only responsible for the transmission of the video data to the display but also for communications from the display back to the central graphics unit. Use of APIX3 technology here is ideal, as it has all these properties and it enables speeds of up to 12Gbps on the up-stream and 187Mbps on the down-stream.  

Complete safety in the display itself is equally important. Three essential components, the communication and video link receiver (APIX3) with integrated decoding, the graphic processing and monitoring of the video content and the output unit to the display, are all brought together and form an intelligent and co-ordinated integration of all functions. ASIL-critical information from the graphics-generating control unit, such as the head unit, must always be transmitted clear of defects by the display connection. If an error occurs, the system must automatically detect it and react to any malfunctions or incorrect data.

An integrated domain architecture offers scalability for driver assistance and infotainment systems and helps improve safety. High integrated devices such as display controllers and graphics computing SoCs offer high flexibility and efficiency in the development phase and in the field, reducing system cost at the same time.

The next logical step – The Fusion of Computing Domains to serve Cross-Domain applications.

Author: Stefan Drouzas

Responsible for the Product Management of Automotive SoCs and Display Controllers for IoT and Graphics solutions at Socionext Europe. After graduating in 2001, he held various positions in the semiconductor industry as a developer and expert in technical marketing with a focus on video and display applications.

Experienced professional in technical and commercial product marketing for semiconductor products, strategic marketing and international project management. Over 10 years of experience in consumer, industrial and tier2-automotive semiconductor markets.

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