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Redefining the Focus of Automobile Design

Written by Candice Hu

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Automotive industry players are “stepping on the gas” to accelerate adoption of a new paradigm – one where the digital infrastructure of the vehicle becomes more critical to selling cars than the mechanical power plant itself. To hear it from Daimler R&D CIO Siegmar Haasis, “80 percent of product innovation and differentiation is now electrical, electronics and software .”1 This disruption to the century-old automotive design paradigm is unlocking new use cases for the automotive sector, as it pivots towards a software-centric strategy encompassing smart automotive solutions such as Automotive Cloud, CAR.OS and car subscription models. The shift is already apparent in a visit to the virtual showroom, where shopping online for a new car is rapidly becoming an experience more akin to choosing a new laptop PC or cell phone. Connectivity, battery life, display quality, camera resolution and count all matter as much as the displacement of the engine and the mechanical design of the chassis. The auto company website feature lists start to look very much like those of smartphone manufacturers. WHAT THE SOFTWARE-CENTRIC SHIFT ENABLES Motoring with the Comforts of Home Comfort and style have always been part of the car-buying experience, but the advancements in digital infrastructure are enabling a new comforts-of-home aspect that could not be catered-to previously in a cost-effective way. Just as a smart thermostat cools off the house before arrival, the smart car brings the car cabin to a comfortable temperature ahead of the driver’s entry. As the driver sits down, the car picks up the audio selection the driver was just listening to at home or on their phone. These are simple examples but serve to illustrate how the distinction between car and home is blurring. With this in mind, consumers are moving away from considering their vehicle in terms of simple transportation, instead investing in it as their “third space” right behind home and workplace. They spend a lot of time in the car, and have decided that there is no reason it should not be an extension of home as well as a convenient way to catch up on office work. A modern car shopper’s expectation of what a vehicle should offer goes beyond baseline functionality to a holistic, immersive in-car experience. Leisure, Entertainment and Productivity on the Go In the United States alone, Americans spend 70 billion hours in the car over the course of a year; world-wide the total is nearly 400 billion hours.2 Imagine reclaiming the hours spent behind the wheel, transforming them into opportunities for leisure, entertainment or productivity. This vision is quickly becoming a reality as automakers race to capture the attention of younger buyers such as Gen Z, a generation that consumes over seven hours of video a day.3 In fact, some automotive giants are already thinking about this. For the gamer crowd, Tesla offers Steam; to keep the party crowd engaged between stops at clubs, they provide karaoke. For more business-oriented drivers, car maker VW CARIAD is bringing WebEx to Audi vehicles.4 Autonomous Driving and Advanced Driving Assistance August 2023 marked a significant milestone for the autonomous driving industry as self-driving technology leaders Waymo and Cruise rolled out commercial robotaxi services with 24/7 access in San Francisco.5 The importance of the software-centric digital infrastructure to this application cannot be overstated. While not everyone will want to hand over driving responsibilities to the car, many drivers appreciate the assistive technologies like hands-free parallel parking that comes by way of the same autonomous driving technology. From there, it is easy to understand how autonomous driving technology can reduce human error and enhance the safety of drivers and pedestrians. Studies have predicted that over 80% of accidents caused by humans could be less severe or completely avoided with autonomous driving. Bridging the Accessibility Gap in Transportation with Technology In the United States, 26% of Americans live with a disability and many say that transportation is one of the largest barriers in their daily lives.6 Innovations in autonomous driving will make travel easier for passengers of all abilities and promises a future of inclusivity, where mobility is not a privilege but a right that is accessible to all.   Enabling Technologies for the New Paradigm OTA Updates Over-the-air (OTA) updates are used to improve the software running the vehicle (including bug fixes), as well as to add new features and performance. Tesla owners, for example, have long been delighted to start their car in the morning and find that an enhancement has been added. However, security for providing these updates is a key concern. Secure and hack-proof delivery of OTA updates is provided by end-to-end security – requiring secure memory, secure storage, secure communication channels, secure bootstrap sequences, secure SoCs, etc. – as well as secure manufacturing and software release processes. Introduction of malware at any step in the system could immobilize an entire fleet of vehicles. Today, OEMs are managing a loose confederation of over 150 software providers and their IPs, which is problematic for software-defined vehicles. According to VW CARIAD, the company aims to develop 60% of software in-house by 2025, and wants to be a full owner of key enablers, including big data, security and AI capabilities7. The ultimate solution to this problem will involve new vehicle digital architectures and hierarchies. Vertically Integrated Architectures The surge in hardware and software capabilities is revolutionizing vehicle design, providing more efficient, centralized architectures and replacing traditional distributed vehicle designs. “Modern vehicles resemble a moving data center,” explains Rohit Bhola, Sr. Manager of Automotive Product Planning and Enabling at Samsung. “Instead of the complex network of a growing number of electronic control units (ECUs) and microcontrollers, a powerful server architecture provides all the electronic vehicle functions. Previously, almost every single task of functional area was integrated into the network with a dedicated ECU. This has led to a very heterogeneous and complex architecture of embedded systems, which is no longer suitable for further innovations such as the connection of the vehicle into the Internet of Things (IoT).” With increasing amount of hardware modules and software capabilities loaded and enabled in cars, the distributed vehicle design will turn obsolete. Industry has reached the consensus that simply adding more ECU modules is not the answer. The older distributed layout will be replaced by more efficient zonal- and domain-centric designs (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Vehicle Architecture Design Evolution
Subscription as New Revenue Software support via OTA updates needs to be provided long after the vehicle has left the factory, leaving the manufacturer to find a way to monetize this service, ideally following a subscription model. However, successfully implementing that model necessitates a revolution in vehicle architecture design along the lines of the domain- or zonal-centric architectures just described. OTA updates to a module buried deep within the chosen hierarchy require carefully designed and targeted OTA updates, and delivery through trusted networks. The manufacturer with the most robust delivery mechanism, timely updates, and new feature offerings will be effective making the complex infrastructure pay for itself many times over. Expansion of Control Hardware and Software As vehicles become more advanced and software-defined, system requirements increase significantly – demanding faster SoCs, GPUs and AI accelerators, higher bandwidth DRAM and more storage memory. For mission critical applications such as advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving, redundancy of hardware with multiple SoCs are critical. Sensor data from camera, lidar and radar will be inferenced and trained both at the edge device and in the data center. Infotainment and telematics require multiple SoCs to provide the ultimate user experience (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Samsung Internal Analysis Based on Publicly Available Data
For autonomous driving vehicles at L4/L5, the industry predicts DRAM bandwidth to go over 1TB/s and will require extended power-on times. Storage components will require higher endurance, densities, and sustained-write performance. “Automotive systems in 2023 manufactured vehicle models are slated to be equipped with LPDRAM components at I/O signaling speed up to 4266Mbps,” said Rohit. “However, the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) applications will demand much higher bandwidth to support Level 3 and beyond autonomous driving capabilities. LPDDR5X up to 8533Mbps as well as GDDR6/7 will be fundamental technology that provides the essential memory bandwidth to fuel on-board AI compute engines.”
Figure 3. Samsung Analysis with Industry Available Data
Samsung at the Forefront of Automotive Excellence Quality, reliability and accountability are priorities for the automotive industry from both product and supply chain perspectives. As the No. 1 CAPEX investor, Samsung builds out the automotive product line-up with a zero-defect approach. Our extensive experience with demanding applications continuously pushes us towards operational excellence. A truly end-to-end solution provider, Samsung offers an unparalleled breadth of products from memory, foundry, CIS, display, and LED to advanced packaging. Our exceptional memory solutions for mobility are reshaping the automotive industry. In-vehicle Infotainment (IVI), Telematics Control Units (TCU), and Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technologies open up new mobility experiences, transforming how and where we work, play, and live. Learn more about Samsung’s vertically integrated product line-up, including LPDDR5/X, LPDDR4/X, SSD, UFS, HBM and more here.
1 Bringing automotive software development in-house: a shifting landscape for OEMs and suppliers 2 “Think You’re in Your Car More? You’re Right. Americans Spend 70 Billion Hours behind the Wheel | AAA NewsRoom.” AAA NewsRoom, 27 Feb. 2019, 3 Faughnder, Ryan. “Gen Z Spends Half Its Waking Hours on Screen Time. Here’s the Good and Bad News for Hollywood.” Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2022, 4 “CARIAD Brings WebEx into the Car.” Cariad. technology, Accessed 19 Sept. 2023. 5 “Cruise Reveals Wheelchair-Accessible Robotaxi with Testing to Begin next Month.” TechCrunch, 14 Sept. 2023, Accessed 19 Sept. 2023. 6 Cruise_Safety_Report_2022_sm-optimized.pdf ( 7

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