Infotainment and informational advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are converging in a digital cockpit with multiple voice assistants, impressive displays, electronic mirrors, driver monitoring cameras and new ways of interaction. These are the main telematics and infotainment semiconductor trends observed at CES 2019 in Las Vegas:
- Heterogeneous multicore systems on a chip (SoCs): Although still not automotive-grade, the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 with neural processing unit was presented in a cockpit concept featuring camera-based emotion recognition and safety use-cases. Following Qualcomm´s success in infotainment and telematics with SoCs originally designed for mobile phones, Mediatek showed applications of the Autus processors I20 and T10, which will likely be available in cars by the end of this year. Similarly, right after announcing its first automotive design win with Audi in 2020, Samsung exhibited in Harman's showroom the new Exynos Auto V and T series. Well established SoCs from Renesas, NXP and Texas Instruments were also found in multiple development boards, especially the R-Car H3 starter kit (Salvator). While Intel´s infotainment portfolio is struggling to compete against the dominance of ARM, the Atom Apollo Lake family was reportedly used in concepts exhibited by BMW, QNX, Green Hills Software other key players. Finally, AMD made headlines with its 7 nanometer announcements for gaming, mobile and servers, but no products were unveiled to confirm the rumors of an incipient automotive business line.
- Networking: Transferring video between cameras, displays and electronic mirrors will demand serializers and deserializers (SerDes) and faster multimedia interfaces, domains where Texas Instruments and Maxim Integrated featured their leading products. Valens was very active this year, announcing collaborations with Denso, Mitsubishi Electric, Aptiv and other top players, to implement its HDBaseT high speed networking solution, which should start gaining momentum next year.
- Connectivity: Vehicle to everything (V2X) was a hot discussion topic this year, with the cellular versus 802.11p battle still ongoing. Although many are advocating for 5G everywhere, it will surely take some time to deploy, and companies like Valeo showed telematics modules with both dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) and cellular V2X (C-V2X) using the Autotalks second-generation chipset. A 3-in-1 combo wireless SoC with 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), 802.11p (DSRC) and Bluetooth 5/BLE, which was first introduced by Marvell last year, is expected to be found in vehicles from 2020.
- Security: Due to growing connectivity and over-the-air (OTA) updates, hardware security is quickly becoming a crucial part of every vehicle. The following devices were exhibited by NXP, Infineon, Marvell, Microchip and STMicroelectronics, usually in collaboration with software solutions from Arilou, Argus, Green Hills Software and others: secure controller area network (CAN) transceivers, trusted platform modules (TPMs), Ethernet switches with trusted booth functionality, cryptoauthentication integrated circuits (ICs) and microcontroller units (MCUs) with an embedded hardware-security module (HSM) for tamper-resistant telematics.
- Software: Microkernels and hypervisors from QNX, Green Hills Software, OpenSynergy, Wind River, Elektrobit and increasingly open source (Xen, ACRN) are now ubiquitously employed to separate the safety-critical (ASIL-B) real-time operating system used in the instrument cluster and the applications typically running on Android or Linux. Every layer of the software architecture – including cloud (and soon IoT) – is becoming an essential part of secure and high-performance infotainment.
- Sensors: Capacitive fingerprint recognition to open the car doors and start the engine will become real this year in cars from Hyundai. Other brands also demonstrated innovative sensor applications at CES: Kia presented camera-based gesture control for the in-vehicle experience; Texas Instruments applied mmWave radar for vehicle occupant detection and to enable opening the sunroof with a hand wave; and ROHM Semiconductor proposed to monitor heart rate with an optical sensor. Ultrahaptics uses an ultrasound transducer array to produce haptic feedback on the air, a disruptive interaction method that could be implemented in premium human-machine interfaces before 2025. Thanks to companies like u-blox, STMicroelectronics and Murata, positioning components and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) inertial sensors continue to improve their accuracy and will be indispensable for high-precision localization.