Qualcomm reaffirms automotive course with SoC for mixed criticality tasks
For some time now, Qualcomm has been finding its way more and more into the development departments of the automotive industry. At CES, the company is presenting an SoC family that could give engineers at competitors like NXP or Nvidia a hard time.
The Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC is engineered to support mixed-criticality workloads across heterogenous compute resources, allowing for the digital cockpit, ADAS and AD functions to co-exist on a single SoC – while not neglecting the functional safety. According to Qualcomm, the SoC enables a hardware architecture to support isolation, freedom from interference, and quality-of-service (QoS) for specific ADAS functions and comes equipped with a dedicated Automotive Safety Integrity Level D (ASIL-D) safety island. Furthermore, the Flex SoC pre-integrates a software platform that supports multi-operating system operating concurrently, hypervisor enablement with isolated virtual machines, and real-time operating system (OS) with an Automotive Open System Architecture (Autosar) to meet the mixed criticality workload requirements for driver assistance safety systems, digital reconfigurable clusters, infotainment systems, driver monitoring systems (DMS), and park-assist systems.
The Flex SoC comes pre-integrated with the Snapdragon Ride software stack, which enables scalable driver assistance and automated driving experiences using a front camera to meet regulatory requirements, and multi-modal sensors (cameras, radars, lidars and maps) for enhanced perception that creates an environmental model around the vehicle feeding into vehicle control algorithms. The Vision software stack meets the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) requirements and Europe’s General Safety Regulations (GSR) while scaling up to higher levels of autonomy, Qualcomm highlights.
The new SoC also designed to incorporate an in-vehicle central-compute platform that powers future Software Defined Vehicle (SDV) solutions by providing heterogenous safe compute with the ability to execute flexible mixed critical cloud-native workloads. The Flex SoC is supported by a cloud-native automotive software development workflow which includes support for virtual platform simulation that can be integrated as part of in-cloud development operations (DevOps) and machine learning operations (MLOps) infrastructure.
With the introduction of this SoC family, Qualcomm is stepping full throttle on its course towards the automotive industry. This strategy has already seen considerable success – Qualcomm is the SoC supplier of choice for highly integrated domain computers at automakers like Volkswagen and Stellantis; Qualcomm processors already drive numerous ADAS and infotainment functions. A factor for this success is certainly the scalability of its product line that enables tier ones and OEMs to use these SoCs along with a software stack perfectly tailored for these processors.
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Devised in cooperation with safety experts across the automotive industry, the platforms are designed and assessed to meet highest levels of automotive safety across hardware and software. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon Ride Platforms are engineered to allow for customization opportunities with the ability to adapt to evolving automotive architectures, and to be augmented by dedicated artificial intelligence (AI) accelerators to support an expanding ADAS/AD operational design domain (ODD). Through modular, customizable and configurable software stacks for ADAS and AD tasks, the Snapdragon Ride Platforms are intended to serve as turnkey solutions that support multimodal sensors, including cameras, radars, lidars, AD maps and ultrasonic sensors. Automakers still can differentiate their solutions by utilizing the modules from the Snapdragon Ride Autonomous Driving stack with the Snapdragon Ride Vision system on Tier-1 hardware platforms that feature separate software stacks, such as parking and driver monitoring systems (DMS), the chipmaker promises.
“Digital Cockpit” hinges software and hardware
To further underscore its automotive strategy, Qualcomm is unveiling a concept car at CES that combines the technical approaches of different suppliers to show how a Qualcomm-based solution can be formed as if from a single mold. The common denominator here is the combined hardware and software solutions of the Snapdragon Digital Chassis product family. The solutions shown are not limited to the vehicle and its internal functions, but also extend to connected services and cloud connectivity. With its current step, Qualcomm moves up to an future-proof 4nm technology. The new finish line is now vehicles that will be on the road from 2025.
A close collaboration connects Qualcomm to Visteon, the supplier once spun off from Ford. At CES, Visteon shows SmartCore, a domain controller software that combines cockpit functions with Android-based infotainment systems and is based on Qualcomm hardware.
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