High-performance compute platform adapts to user needs

High-performance compute platform adapts to user needs

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Based on a Plug & Play concept, Continental has devised a modular and highly scalable solution for the integration of high-performance computers (HPC) in vehicle architectures. The highlight is that computer modules can be replaced or upgraded even when the vehicle is already in the field. Combined with a new type of liquid cooling system based on flexible cooling pads, the system always maintains a safe operating temperature.

As a result of the great leaps forward in SDV development, more and more functions in the vehicle are being controlled, monitored and maintained by software. Analysts estimate that the market volume for software-based vehicle functions and services will reach $640 billion by 2031. For example, vehicles will have to process ever greater volumes of data for automated driving functions or infotainment applications and enable a growing number of software functions. To do this, they need modular and powerful HPCs that can be integrated into a vehicle’s E/E architecture in a scalable and flexible way.

“We rely on a flexible and scalable concept for cross-domain HPCs including an innovative cooling solution for all vehicle classes,” explains Jean-Francois Tarabbia, head of the Architecture and Networking business unit at Continental. “Our plug-and-play solution requires less installation space and reduces the complexity of the vehicle architecture as well as the wiring harness.” A key aspect of the system’s design also lies in the ability to swap and upgrade individual computer modules when the vehicle is already in the field.

The HPC solutions can be easily and quickly adapted to any customer requirement. During development, Continental attached great importance to the greatest possible modularity. In concrete terms, this means: The HPC modules can be combined to form different configurations, and the computing power can be scaled as needed.

Vehicle manufacturers can integrate individual HPCs or rely on modular stack or rack solutions that combine different HPC modules in a single unit. The integration of different modules in one box enables savings on costly cabling, especially for high-speed data exchange. The Plug & Play approach also allows individual computer modules to be replaced or upgraded in the field in a similar way to graphics cards or hard disks in classic desktop PCs.

Plug & Play liquid cooling system

Depending on the application, the high computing power of HPCs can reach a thermal power loss in the range of 1kW. This must be reliably dissipated by means of liquid cooling so that the internal components remain within the safe temperature range. Existing solutions to date cannot be implemented without interrupting the cooling water circuit and require the application of a thermal paste between the cooler and the control unit. This makes replacement of the ECU complicated and cumbersome. Continental is introducing a new type of cooling concept that makes replacement much easier. This system consists of a new type of cooler in the form of flexible cooling pads that hug the HPC modules to be cooled all by themselves thanks to fluid pressure. This prevents the formation of an undesirable air gap. This makes it very easy to replace HPC modules. Any repairs or upgrades are thus much more cost-effective.

Related articles:

How powerful processors are helping to advance vehicle architectures

German industry to develop central computer platform for cars

Networking ECU manages data flow across vehicle domains and cloud

European processor project shows shift to RISC-V

ZF relies massively on AI for new ADAS platform

Continental reports progress in development of server-based vehicle architectures


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