Leading automobile manufacturers and hardware and software suppliers have formed the Genivi Alliance, a nonprofit organization committed to driving the development and broad adoption of an open-source in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) reference platform (see the figure). The group will unite automotive, consumer electronics, communications, and application development companies investing in the IVI market and will act as a driving force for innovation. The effort will reduce time-to-market and the total cost of ownership, according to the organization.
The scope of Genivi’s founding membership is impressive. The roster includes automotive manufacturers such as the BMW Group, General Motors Corp., and PSA Peugot Citroen; automotive Tier 1 suppliers Delphi Corp. and Magneti Marelli; chipmaker Intel Corp.; and software supplier Wind River Systems.
The Genivi platform is aimed at streamlining elements of the IVI development process that have historically been duplicated across the industry. The alignment of the automotive industry on an open-source platform will provide a common foundation for automobile manufacturers and their suppliers to build their differentiated products and services. Additionally, it will create opportunities for companies that previously found it difficult to enter the automotive domain.
This open-source platform consists of Linux-based core services, middleware, and open application-layer interfaces that are essential but non-differentiating core elements of the overall IVI solution. Car manufacturers can use this platform as their common underlying framework and add to it their differentiated products and services (the consumer-facing applications and interfaces). The group is currently identifying those common automotive infotainment industry requirements to establish a higher baseline from which to develop products for the common good of the ecosystem.
The organization isn’t built on highly competitive areas such as user interfaces and logic that define the end-user experience. Instead, it is built on the idea that such user interfaces and logic are what distinguish products. These should remain in the domain of vendors who design and deliver the hardware and software, Genivi says. Its goal is to allow car makers to more quickly deliver new infotainment features by synchronizing their production schedules with the life cycles of consumer electronics.
“We want to get the car industry to agree on a common set of requirements for infotainment systems,” explains Joel Hoffman, Intel’s strategic market development manager. “Genivi will challenge the traditional approach of proprietary solutions and spawn a level of creativity not yet seen in the automotive segment,” says Graham Smethurst, BMW Group general manager, Infotainment and Communication Systems. “Collaborating on a common reference platform in non-differentiating areas of the architecture will allow Genivi members to focus on the development and integration of innovative customer functionality.”
Last year, Intel announced its support of the Moblin IVI platform for automotive infotainment designs (see “Portable Craze Redefines The Dashboard”). Moblin complements the Genivi platform and will act as an independent distribution mechanism for the first Genivi open-source reference implementations. This open-source project is focused on developing software for new categories of devices such as mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and netbooks.
“Having a common reference platform will be critical for the greater auto ecosystem in developing innovative and sophisticated in-car entertainment applications,” says Hans-Georg Frischkorn, executive director of Global Electrical Systems, Controls and Software at GM. “The Genivi Alliance will enable this and allow us to collaborate closely with our industry partners, sharing development costs and improving our overall speed to market.”
“The automotive business needs to improve its efficiency continuously through open competition and the avoidance of unnecessary rework on mature technologies, which is especially true in this current economic environment,” adds Gerulf Kinkelin, Innovation Area manager at PSA Peugot Citroen. “We firmly believe that Genivi is the right forum to put in place as it will drive business efficiency through an open environment and foster a rich ecosystem that will likely go far beyond what we can imagine today.”
Development of the open-source platform is well underway by the members of the Alliance. The first technical deliverable implementation is set for launching this summer. It will be based on a tested and proven automotive prototype, running on the Intel Atom processor and Wind River Systems’ Linux. The reference implementation will be made available as open-source code to stimulate innovation among developers.
The Genivi platform is open for licensing to Alliance members. Membership is encouraged for companies invested in the success of IVI systems. The Alliance is also considering licensing issues for non-member companies and organizations.