Audi TT - a step towards the software-defined car

March 21, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With the latest version of its TT sports car, Audi sets standards for future cars. Though the propulsion is not generated by an electrical, not even hybrid electrical system but instead by a conventional internal combustion engine, the vehicle sketches out the ways future designers will go on their way towards the software-defined car.

The most remarkable component in the new TT (which by the way has not yet even a general type approval) is its cockpit. No mechanical pointers anymore - a full graphical LCD panel mimics analog instruments. Yes, today even mechanical pointer instruments are driven electronically, but Audi generates them all as computer graphics. In addition, it integrates the function of the centre display with infotainment and navigation. Such a task requires a significant amount of computing power - Audi employs two Nvidia T30 quad-core SoCs (aka Tegra 3). In order to create a smooth movement of the virtual instruments, the system generates (and displays) 60 frames per second.

Many functions are voice-controlled. The voice control software itself comes from Nuance, but Audi has adapted it widely to make it more context sensitive. Siri? No, Sir. Siri requires permanent online access to backend computing resources. But isnt't the TT also connected via optional LTE module? Yes, says Audi. And Siri could come perhaps later.

Fig 1: Exploded-view drawing of the instrument cluster. All information is displayed on a wide-format TFT panel with 1440 x 540 pixels at 24 bit color depth. For full resolution click here.