Central server takes control in Volkswagen’s ID.3

October 07, 2020 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Central computer takes control in Volkswagen’s ID.3
Volkswagen's new electric hope carrier ID.3, which is available for order since recently, is driving around with a lot of high tech under the bonnet. Its most striking feature is a central high-performance computer.

The high-performance computer, supplied by Continental and referred to by VW as “In-car Application Server 1” (ICAS1), replaces numerous separate ECUs, which usually control individual functions, each one separately. At the same time the computer serves as an intelligent gateway to the Internet and online services.

The computer, labeled internally by Continental as HPC, was developed by the automotive supplier in close cooperation with software company Elektrobit. As ICAS1 in the VW ID.3, the HPC is also a central element for the conversion to a service-oriented electronic architecture. The server represents the central data node and the connection point between the vehicle and the digital world. It enables new software functions and safety updates to be installed in the vehicle at any time in the future via a wireless connection. Over-the-air updates will thus become the norm for Volkswagen's new electric cars.

Continental did not want to say which processor powers the ICAS1, citing a confidentiality agreement with Volkswagen. A company spokesperson said that Continental is working with "a strategic portfolio several microprocessor vendors", and that "Nvidia is completing this portfolio especially for the technology of AI-based solutions for self-driving vehicles." The spokesperson also explained that that the ICAS1 is a customisation of joint platform developments by Continental and Elektrobit, both in terms of hardware and software.

Thanks to the server concept, which has not been established in the automotive sector up to now, both applications from Volkswagen and software from third companies can be integrated. The provision of functions, such as range-optimised route planning and the localisation of charging stations for electric cars, is thus simplified.

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