The number of processors and sensors in a car is rapidly increasing bringing more advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) support, but at the cost of added complexity and management. While standard communication interfaces and protocols help, a diverse collection of platforms can make integration and support a major problem. One potential solution is to have a unified compute platform, which is why NXP Semiconductor is pushing its S32x family (Fig. 1).
The S32x family is based on ARM’s Cortex-A cores as well as the Cortex-M and Cortex-R cores. These 32- and 64-bit system-on-chip (SoC) solutions often incorporate a mix of cores, and they can come with large amounts of memory ranging from 512 Kbytes to 128 Mbytes. The family will be designed to deliver ASIL D support. NXP is the first to deliver ASIL D support for Cortex-A class processors. This support is typically found in Cortex-M and Cortex-R class processors.
The chips will find a home in a wide range of automotive services, including gateways providing secure over-the-air (OTA) updates to all systems in the car (Fig. 2). The OTA support is twofold. First, the common, underlying architecture make implementation of secure boot and software updates significantly easier and more consistent between devices in the car’s network. Second, a common update mechanism can be more easily coupled with OTA support, especially as more incremental update procedures are utilized. The days of a single massive update are gone for a variety of reasons, including improved security requirements, a larger code base, and wireless bandwidth limitations. NXP is providing not only hardware, but also the software to support features like OTA.
The breadth of different compute platforms is required to address the many sensor, command, and management services found in highly automated cars (Fig. 3). NXP may not address all the areas using the S32x, but it has marked out a lot of territory. It is also incorporating a variety of hardware accelerators, including neural network acceleration for artificial intelligence and machine learning support that is becoming a requirement.
NXP’s S32x family of automotive-grade silicon is designed to provide a common development platform that can deliver ASIL D fault tolerance, as well as end-to-end security that includes OTA. This should allow for improved software reuse. It is also designed to deliver higher performance.