Automotive software platform opens door to cloud-native development

Automotive software platform opens door to cloud-native development

New Products |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The automotive virtual platform COQOS Hypervisor SDK from OpenSynergy (Berlin) enables seamless deployment of complex software systems including several virtual machines running different operating systems in the cloud to the automotive edge.

Thanks to a range of devices based on the open standard VIRTIO included on the virtual platform, it is now possible to run software developed in the cloud on the automotive edge without modification. This will be on display on a demonstrator at the embedded world trade fair.

Traditionally OEMs and their suppliers have developed software on automotive-specific and difficult-to-source compute hardware in early development stages and then migrated to expensive prototype vehicles as SoP (start of production) approached. Making that hardware and vehicles available to software teams distributed across the globe is nearly impossible. The current shortage of chips has exacerbated the problem.

Cloud development is an effective solution for the automotive industry. Especially when it is supported by the open standard VIRTIO. As an active member of the OASIS Open consortium maintaining this standard, OpenSynergy has worked to expand the scope of the open standards in the automotive domain. There are missing automotive-specific VIRTIO devices, so OpenSynergy is working within the OASIS consortium to close the gap.

Multiple concurrent OSes supported

Due to this commitment, OpenSynergy provides an automotive virtual platform including a large of number devices, which adhere to the VIRTIO specification. OpenSynergy thereby opens up the possibility to coherently transfer complex software systems to the cloud, where the entire system can be developed and configured. Even the integration of different software components – i.e., both the operating systems and the applications, with different requirements for safety and real-time behavior can be integrated and individually updated in the cloud without the risk of the components interfering with each other or losing their functional safety properties.

For the first time ever, OEMs and Tier-1s can now go way beyond the typical application development offering in the Cloud and are free to develop on multiple OSes simultaneously – even operating systems that have not been specifically ported to run virtualized in the Cloud.

For example, OpenSynergy’s solution allows a cockpit controller to be fully integrated into the cloud, comprised of an instrument cluster on a Linux operating system in one of the virtual machines, and an infotainment system running in another virtual machine. Due to OpenSynergy’s VIRTIO devices, integrators can seamlessly move the entire system from the cloud to the edge instead of individual parts ported specifically to run in the cloud.

The key factor for developing software in the cloud is the parity between cloud-based development environments and the vehicle environment. Virtualization based on open standards enables portability of software systems from the cloud to the edge. Here, the operating systems use virtual drivers that are standardized and therefore independent of the hypervisor as well as the underlying hardware, which can even be a cloud server.

The operating systems to be deployed simply have to support the VIRTIO standard, which is widely used in the enterprise computing domain and supported by many operating systems, including all which use a Linux kernel. There is no need to have an extra “cloud” port for each operating system used in the system for development purposes only. You can simply use the same exact VIRTIO-based operating system in the cloud as you use on the automotive edge.

OEMs developing their automotive software products in the cloud benefit from access to nearly unlimited computing power. This allows testing and validation on a massive scale on an almost limitless amount of “virtual targets”. This is why cloud development will empower Software-Defined-Architectures (SDA), which makes software and features the starting point for development: First, developers design an architecture that includes all the desired functions of a system, without considering any hardware constraints or porting efforts. Only after the software design has been created, do manufacturers decide which hardware to use. The Software Defined Architecture approach provides freedom of choice in hardware and in software components. Already in use in data centers, cloud development will transfer this approach now to the automotive industry.

The platform will be on display on a demonstrator at the Embedded World trade fair (March 14-16, Nuremberg, Germany).

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