Honda taps IBM for neuromorphic AI silicon

Honda taps IBM for neuromorphic AI silicon

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Honda Motor has signed a deal with IBM for joint research and development of next-generation neuromorphic and chiplet technologies for software-defined vehicles (SDV).

The deal with IBM comes as Honda sees electric vehicles becoming mainstream by 2031, with a plan to cut battery production costs by at least 20% as part of a $64bn plan with digital twin technology. The company recently signed a strategi deal with Infineon Technologies for automotive silicon.

The application of intelligence/AI technologies is expected to accelerate widely in 2030 and beyond, creating new opportunities for the development of SDVs.

Honda and IBM anticipate that SDVs will dramatically increase the design complexity, processing performance, and corresponding power consumption of semiconductors compared to conventional mobility products.  IBM has a technology deal with Rapidus in Japan for 2nm process technology for high performance semiconductors.

In particular, the memorandum of understanding outlines areas of potential joint research of specialized semiconductor technologies such as neuromorphic computing and chiplet technologies, with the aim to dramatically improve processing performance while, simultaneously, decreasing power consumption.

Hardware and software co-optimization is important to ensure high performance and fast time to market. To achieve such benefits and manage design complexity for future SDVs, the two companies also plan to explore open and flexible software

Honda is developing its own operating system (OS) for AI-enable SoCs in is Series 0 flagship vehicles as part of a wider plan for EVs. These will use a centralized architecture to consolidate the multiple ECUs which are serving individual domains.

It is also setting up a vertically-integrated EV value chain with a central focus on batteries, as of 2030 to reduce battery costs by 20% and overall production cost by approximately 35%. Honda believes it has secured enough batteries for the planned production of approximately 2 million EVs per year.

The Honda 0 Series will be the flagship series of Honda EVs with a total of seven models to be launched globally by 2030.

Honda is planning to invest approximately 10 trillion yen ($64bn) over the 10-year period through FY2031, when the period of full-fledged popularization of EVs is expected to start. Honda will pursue both bold investments for future growth and shareholder returns.

“The environment surrounding automobile electrification is undergoing dramatic changes, and in some regions, the sense of a slowdown in EV market growth is gaining attention. Honda has not changed its belief that EVs are the most effective solution in the area of small mobility products such as motorcycles and automobiles. Looking at the trend from a longer-term perspective, Honda is confident that the EV shift will continue to proceed steadily,” said Toshihiro Mibe, global CEO of Honda.

“As of 2030, Honda plans to make EVs and FCEVs represent 40% of its global auto sales, and to produce more than 2 million units of EVs. Working toward this future, Honda will steadily pursue the establishment of a comprehensive EV value chain with a central focus on batteries and the advancement of EV production technologies and facilities.”

“The Honda 0 Series, which will play a key role in the Honda EV strategy, will be a completely new EV series. At CES, two concept models were unveiled, namely Saloon and Space-Hub. As for Saloon, which will become a flagship model of the series, Honda is planning for the market launch of a model very similar to this concept model, in 2026.” 

A newly-developed compact e-Axle and an  ultra-thin battery pack will reduce the thickness of the chassis to allow a lower height and more space in the vehicle.

“This includes optimization of the parts layout, reduction of the number of parts, as well as adoption of Honda’s original collision control technology, and the adoption of body frames that combine excellent design and performance,” he said.

“In addition to lighter body frames, the new EV series models will adopt an all-new power unit, which was made lighter and thinner by applying Honda’s original technologies amassed through the development of F1 machines and HEV models. This will enable Honda to reduce the overall vehicle weight by approximately 100kg compared to initial Honda EVs.”

Heavy components such as the battery and power unit will be placed low and in the centre of the vehicle body to realize a low centre of gravity, resulting in stable vehicle behaviour. The company is also using its robotics technology got a motion management system developed based on posture control technology.

Equipped with an original vehicle OS, Honda 0 Series models will offer a digital UX optimized for each individual customer, in conjunction with the advancement of connected technologies. Vehicle functions will be continuously updated with OTA (over-the-air) updates.

Honda will independently develop the underlying E&E architecture, the vehicle OS which is the upper layer of the overall architecture, as well as various applications that will be on the vehicle OS. Honda will customise the SoC with AI, which will be able to learn, says Mibe.

Honda believes it is ahead of other companies for Level 3 automated driving technology, and this will be used to make automated driving functions available in a broader speed range on expressways, as well as on regular roads as well as autonomous pickup arrangements and parking of the vehicle at places away from home.

A US joint venture EV battery plant with LG Energy Solution will begin production with a capacity of 40GWh of batteries per year in 2025 and Honda plans to expand into the battery life cycle business, which includes the areas of charging service, energy service and reuse/recycle.

In Canada, Honda will begin in-house production of the EV battery being co-developed with GS Yuasa. As for key battery materials, in Canada, Honda will proceed to internalize production by producing cathode materials with POSCO Future M, and separators with Asahi Kasei, at new joint venture plants to be constructed.

The battery pack assembly line will use Honda’s original Flex Cell Production System. This combines a modular configuration with a cell production system. A Digital Twin will reproduce real-life production line conditions in cyberspace in real time, the production efficiency in various aspects including the supply of parts to factories, production volume and speed will be optimized.


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