Bosch preps its billion euro vehicle computer business

Bosch preps its billion euro vehicle computer business

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Bosch is preparing to launch its Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division to combines its software, electrics and electronics development from the areas of driver assistance and automated driving, car multimedia as well as powertrain and body electronics.

Vehicle computers is a currently a €20bn market growing at 15 percent per year. Car makers are replacing the numerous electronic control units (ECUs) scattered throughout the car with more centralised domain computers and, eventually, a central computer. This will result in electronics accounting for up to 30 percent of the vehicle’s value in the future, up from 10 percent today.

The centralisation of computer functions is also part of the Bosch strategy. The company has so far provided specialised ECUs and driver assistance systems as well as the associated sensors and actuators and intends to soon also produce central computers for cockpit functions and body electronics. For this, Bosch is using a scalable modular approach that can be tailored to all requirements from small cars to premium vehicles.

owever the company is careful not to go too far out on a limb by committing itself to certain strategic partners and thereby possibly giving away market potential.

“We work with all relevant semiconductor manufacturers,” a company spokeswoman confirmed. In any case, the choice of chip suppliers in this computer league is quite clear; at best, there are only a handful of suppliers such as NXP, Nvidia, Renesas or Texas Instruments. Unlike competitors, Bosch avoids the impression to be too closely aligned to one partner. “It always depends on the customer”, the spokeswoman said.  

Next: modular vehicle computer technology

Bosch’s modular logic is intended to enable a particularly high degree of flexibility in the development of vehicle computers for different vehicle models. For example, if a basic architecture of hardware and software is predefined, it can be adapted according to the customer’s project along a predefined system. For premium vehicles, additional software modules or special chips are then added to the circuit boards to enable more functions.

In the next generation of vehicles, Bosch’s central cockpit computer will initially take over the tasks of up to ten control units. As a result, automakers will be able to significantly reduce the number of ECUs, which in some cases number more than 100. “Vehicle computers are the key to reducing the complexity of electronic systems and making them as safe as possible,” said Harald Kröger, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch. If more central high-performance computers are installed in the future, this will also save cable length – and thus costs, weight and installation space.

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