Drivers are used to operating systems found in consumer electronics through the daily use of smartphones and tablets. This is why carmakers are looking to upgrade their IVI systems by implementing operating systems that mimic consumer electronics. The ease with which the COQOS Hypervisor SDK integrates CE-grade operating systems opens a new opportunity for OEMs: they can add new operating systems on top of their custom IVI systems thereby leveraging the investment made during many years of intense customer-driven development. End customers can switch between IVI systems seamlessly without noticing the switch.
OEMs want to be able to integrate new operating systems, which are often tailored to their exact applications. They want to reuse the same hardware across multiple vehicle lines to save even more development time, cost, and risk. But at the moment, Hardware manufacturers offer operating systems with proprietary driver solutions that they deliver in a Board Support Package (BSP). Therefore, system developers must ensure that their applications can run on the operating systems supported by the silicon manufacturer in each case. In addition, hardware manufacturers usually only support their SoCs for a limited period of time. This makes it difficult or even impossible to upgrade the software and services or add an operating system on already existing infotainment hardware.
Since OpenSynergy’s COQOS Hypervisor SDK virtual platform relies on the open standard VIRTIO, it can efficiently integrate CE-grade operating systems into automotive IVIs as virtual machines. VIRTIO is a device-sharing standard long established in the cloud domain and implemented in most of the Consumer Electronics (CE) operating systems. With its open source activities, OpenSynergy is pushing for the adoption of VIRTIO in the automotive domain.
Virtualization based on open standards offers exactly these desired options. Here, the operating systems use virtual drivers that are standardized and therefore independent of the hypervisor as well as the underlying hardware. These drivers are responsible for the communication between the respective guest operating system and the hardware, e.g. display controller, GPU, sound device, etc.. Usually, one of the operating systems running in a virtual machine serves as the physical device manager. The device manager contains physical drivers that are provided by the silicon vendor for the actual hardware or that are developed or customized by the customer. In addition, there is a customization layer in the device manager that provides the physical drivers via a standardized interface. The operating systems running in other virtual machines use the virtual drivers. They access physical devices through the standardized interface provided by the adaptation layer in the physical device manager. Since the virtual drivers in the other guest VMs rely only on standardized interfaces for hardware access, they are completely independent of hardware-specific device drivers.
COQOS Hypervisor SDK securely integrates different OSes, ensuring freedom of interference between the systems. Furthermore, OpenSynergy is partnering with CE companies, such as Google (Android) and Banma (AliOS), to ensure the smooth integration of the new operating systems, e.g. ensuring compliance to Android’s Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) and Vendor Test Suite (VTS).
The current IVI and the CE-grade operating system run side-by-side on a single high performance System-on-Chip. While additional resources (e.g. RAM, CPU, Flash) for the new OS need to be taken into account, COQOS Hypervisor does not require significant overhead. The existing infotainment system maintains its performance, as it continues to use native drivers (pass-through) after adding the virtual machine.
The new concept allows OEMs to quickly provide up-to-date features to customers (e.g. online services, access to App stores) using the current IVI already in production. It also allows them to customize the IVI to local needs, i.e. add a local OS (e.g. Android in US, AliOS in China) to the existing IVI in an uncomplicated manner.
OpenSynergy has already implemented the concept in mass production with a global automotive OEM, which is now able to provide a new driving experience to their customers, without hardware cost and development complexity.