Open platform for software-defined car to speed development

September 15, 2021 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Open platform for software-defined car to speed development
The advent of the "software-defined car" confronts vehicle developers with the challenge of thinking about cars in a completely different way - namely from a software perspective. To accelerate this transformation process, processor designer Arm has developed a software architecture together with technology partners which is to be accessible to the entire industry as an open platform.

In view of the explosive growth in the complexity of vehicle electronics with ADAS, infotainment, electrified powertrains, automated driving and always-on connectivity software, electronics and software developers have become convinced that zone or central computers should replace the previous countless ECUs distributed throughout the car. The task of the ECU hardware will then be performed by virtual machines implemented as software code and running on the zone or central computers. This results in profound changes to how software is being developed, deployed, and managed.

This, in turn means that cloud-native development, best known for driving reductions in cost, time and complexity across the cloud infrastructure industry, is more applicable to automotive development than ever before.

To ensure that the virtualisation of ECU functions does not simply shift complexity from the hardware to the software level, new development procedures are also required. Arm's group has therefore developed a standardised framework, the "Scalable Open Architecture for Embedded Edge" (SOAFEE). It is intended to accelerate the development of vehicle software in two ways and reduce costs at the same time: Firstly, by using a standardised software architecture, and secondly, by introducing development methodologies that are already common in business IT. These include, above all, Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) and containerisation. Here, development is shifted to the cloud within a virtual environment; the apps developed in this way are then downloaded onto the vehicles. An orchestrator ensures that applications with mixed criticality can run in the target environment - for example, a non-critical infotainment application can run together with a highly critical ADAS application on the same platform without affecting the timing of the more critical application.

SOAFEE combines cloud-based and vehicle-based elements

At the start, SOAFEE includes not only the architecture definition itself but also a reference implementation that initially runs on a hardware platform provided by computer manufacturer and SOAFEE partner Adlink.


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