A Telematics Control Unit (TCU) is an embedded system connecting the vehicle’s external and internal world. Typical applications include services such as eCall crash notification, stolen vehicle tracking and wireless access point as well as vehicle data exchange for diagnostic purposes. In many cases, this necessitates state of the art security. Carmakers also use TCUs for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), collectively referred to as V2X. Such applications introduce tough requirements in terms of functional safety. TCUs are also expected to play a key role in autonomous driving.
In the reference design at hand, OpenSynergy‘s virtualization platform Coqos hypervisor SDK runs on a telematics reference hardware from Actia, a manufacturer of electronics for embedded system management. The hardware is based on the i.MX 8QuadXPlus applications processor from NXP. This multicore SoC, in turn, SoC is part of NXP’s i.MX 8X applications processor family with specific features to support safety-certifiable and efficient performance functions. The platform hosts multiple virtual machines (VMs) running TCU applications, provided also by Actia. The software services company Mobica supported the integration work with its specialized know-how. The reference platform proves resilience on key characteristics of a hypervisor-based TCU, such as freedom from interference, safety, performance, stability, power management and early availability.
The automotive industry, including tier one suppliers and TCU vendors, increasingly looks toward the use of hypervisors. Hypervisors allow several system domains to run in different virtual machines (VMs) on a single processor through rigorous partitioning. Apart from cost savings, this provides a sound basis for safety and security. It also simplifies reuse of existing software components, saving time, cost and mitigating risk. The different parts of the system can be managed independently, allowing optimizations in terms of system response time and power consumption.
The processor that powers the reference platform, the NXP i.MX 8X is based on the Arm Cortex-A53 core, which additionally provides secure domain partitioning. i.MX 8X offers specific hardware partitioning with mechanisms to enforce isolation between the applications. This capability significantly simplifies the hypervisor development. Advanced hardware virtualization enables rapid deployment of multiple full-chip, domain-protected operating systems.