Qualcomm Announces Next-Generation Snapdragon Ride Flex For Automotive Central Compute At CES

Over the previous seven or eight years, Qualcomm has been transferring aggressively to broaden its market presence past the cell gadget trade, with a selected give attention to automotive. Following a failed try and merge with NXP, one of many main producers of automotive semiconductors, Qualcomm turned its consideration to increasing the capabilities of its Snapdragon chip line to energy virtually every little thing within the automotive. This week at CES, Qualcomm is formally launching the following era of its automotive system-on-a-chip (SoC), the Snapdragon Journey Flex.

The Flex introduction comes three years after the unique Snapdragon Journey platform was launched at CES and that system is now in manufacturing within the Cadillac Lyriq. The Journey platform is focused at superior driver help programs (ADAS) and automatic driving programs (ADS). Qualcomm additionally presents Snapdragon Cockpit which is already utilized by quite a few automakers to energy infotainment programs in addition to its mobile modem chips for connectivity.

Snapdragon Flex brings all of those collectively to supply the compute energy wanted for next-generation electrical/digital (E/E) architectures that shift from distributed electronics everywhere in the car to extra centralized compute. Qualcomm isn’t the one chip firm going after this market, with Nvidia providing its present Orin and next-generation Thor SoCs and different gamers additionally attempting to enter this house.

The Snapdragon Journey Flex was first talked about throughout Qualcomm’s Automotive investor day in September 2022, however extra particulars can be found now. The unique Journey platform was based mostly round a two-chip answer with an ADAS SoC and an AI accelerator chip. Based on Qualcomm, this strategy provides automakers flexibility to scale the characteristic set for various autos at a variety of value factors whereas reusing the identical software program code base. Fundamental entry degree ADAS could possibly be provided with a single SoC whereas programs just like the hands-off Tremendous Cruise on the Lyriq may use an SoC and one accelerator. Completely different mixtures may scale as much as about 700 trillion operations per second (TOPS).

The Flex model provides in performance from the Snapdragon Cockpit and the flexibility to virtualize and run a number of totally different working programs with totally different ranges of criticality. For instance ADAS is a security crucial system that runs in actual time whereas the infotainment interface is usually not security crucial and isn’t time delicate (though it wants sufficient efficiency to run easily and be responsive).

Combos of Flex SoCs and subsequent era AI accelerators can help efficiency of as much as 2,000 TOPS, just like what Nvidia has claimed for its subsequent era Thor SoC. As an alternative of getting 50 to 100 or extra digital management models distributed throughout the car, every controlling separate capabilities or options, it will permit automakers to implement E/E architectures with a centralized compute platform and a handful of zone controllers close to the sting of the car community for sensor sign processing and energy distribution. This can radically cut back the variety of ECUs required in addition to simplify the wiring which in lots of present high-end autos might embody two to 3 miles of copper.

Shifting performance right into a centralized compute platform may even make it simpler to do over-the-air software program updates to repair points, and add new performance. These new architectures will sometimes use some kind of widespread working system and software program platform that abstracts purposes away from the {hardware}.

Present era programs sometimes have software program that’s deeply embedded to the {hardware} and any change of the {hardware} usually requires an entire rewrite of the software program. Trendy programs will present utility programming interfaces (APIs) to entry the {hardware}. Purposes will name an API to learn sensor indicators or command an actuator. If the underlying {hardware} is up to date, the software program gained’t essentially must be up to date or software program might be upgraded with out changing the {hardware}.

Along with operating a number of programs within the car, Qualcomm has already pre-integrated its Snapdragon Journey Imaginative and prescient software program stack with the Flex SoC. That is based mostly on the Arriver imaginative and prescient notion stack that Qualcomm initially developed with Veoneer and bought in 2022. This can give automakers a head begin in implementing new ADAS and ADS programs on future merchandise.

The Snapdragon Journey Flex is already sampling and is anticipated to be in manufacturing in 2024. Qualcomm isn’t saying any particular manufacturing purposes for Flex but, however BMW and Volkswagen are each utilizing Qualcomm platforms in future product applications and it appears possible that Flex will probably be in a minimum of a few of these.

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Jean Nicholas

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