Why virtualization for powertrain?
Automotive manufacturers and ECU suppliers in the real-time domain, are under constant pressure to merge more functions onto hardware. They need to reduce costs (less hardware, cables, weight) while achieving better performance (energy efficiency, safety, security) and integrating more functions ( electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving). The hypervisor technology, as realized in OpenSynergy’s virtualization platform COQOS Micro SDK is a powerful tool in addressing these challenges. We believe that powertrain systems are excellent candidates to embrace virtualization, as they are the most exposed to the change factors that were just mentioned. These systems imply that the separation kernel must be able to combine reusability of software with diverse sources of contributors: in-house developed energy management software should be able to run on the same hardware as the battery management software of the battery cell manufacturer and the torque control coming from another Tier. Some of the systems require a high safety level of ASIL-D and pose a particular challenge to development, because they run on microcontrollers, whose processors only have a memory protection unit (MPU). Furthermore the consolidation of multiple applications under freedom of interference requires efficient virtualization of the CPUs.
Why virtualization now?
Virtualization adds a new dimension to the hardware abstraction ecosystem and is a good companion to existing technologies such as AUTOSAR. Newer generations of microcontrollers and real-time processors support hardware virtualization, i.e. have built-in extensions that make running a hypervisor very efficient. A prime example is the Armv8-R architecture, which has added extensions for virtualization to the “R” (Real-Time) family, such as a second MPU controlled by the hypervisor. This architecture is used in the Arm Cortex®-R52 core, which has been adopted by new controllers. COQOS Micro hypervisor has been one of the first hypervisors taking advantage of these extensions: OpenSynergy implemented the NXP S32S safety microcontroller as lead platform for the development of the first Arm Cortex-R based hypervisor. OpenSynergy’s COQOS Micro SDK can also support other chips using the Arm Cortex®-R52 such as the STMicroelectronics Stellar family, or other MPU-based microcontrollers implementing hardware assisted virtualization such as Infineon Tricore® and Renesas RH850/U2X.
Below you will find a video describing our joint powertrain demo created by NXP, which shows an electrification demo architecture running five virtual machines on four processor cores.
Why is virtualization important to electrification?
Electrification is not only about replacing a combustion engine with an electrical one, it is a permanent quest for simplification in the E/E architecture as the application interaction permanently increases in complexity. Virtualization is a great solution to reduce complexity by the convergence of software systems with dissimilar requirements and from different vendors. Based on first studies carried out by NXP a converged powertrain bore the potential of 10-15% higher efficiency. Moreover, virtualization provides further degrees of freedom to system integrators with little compromise on performance and very often helps improve overall safety.
Powertrain Reference Platform NXP S32S
Strategy Analytics has stressed in its latest report that carmakers will focus on centralized architectures supporting their target of highly automated driving. It always becomes more apparent that the use of virtualization is finding its way into electric powertrain technology.