Another important step towards the realization of the server-based vehicle architecture has been made. Continental will be collaborating with the semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG in order to create a clean and efficient electrics/electronics (E/E) architecture with central high-performance computers (HPC) and a few, powerful Zone Control Units (ZCU) – instead of up to a hundred or more individual control units. This is important with regards to the growing number of vehicle functions, which require more and more computing power as well as complex software applications.
This is where Infineon comes into play. For its ZCU plattform, Continental is using Infineon's AURIX TC4 microcontroller. It has a special storage technology which allows the vehicle software to be on constant stand-by. As soon as the vehicle is then started, numerous functions (such as parking assistance, heating etc.) are ready for use within seconds.
Zone control units and first time using RRAM
The zone control units will bundle all electronic and electrical connections in a local section of the vehicle. Bundling the software components centrally will thereby increase cyber security and updatability. As data streams from different vehicle domains will merge in the zone control units, the data will then be processed and passed on to the HPCs via secure Ethernet connections. Conversely, the zone control units act as a coordination point for executing commands from the server level. The possibility to individually choose the number, interaction and arrangement of HPC’s and ZCU’s, automobile manufacturers can tailor the vehicle architecture to their needs.
A key element of the new microcontroller series is the RRAM (Resistive Random Access Memory) memory technology used by Infineon. This technology is already used in chip cards, for example when doing cashless payments and for secure authentication. For the first time, RRAM technology is now applied in the automotive sector.
With their innovative software solutions, Continental and Infineon set important milestones for the future of mobility. A clear division of tasks in tidy vehicle electronics, a separation of hardware and software and lastly, the necessary standardization of interfaces allows to manage the growing complexity and an almost exploding scope of software inside the vehicle in a much better way.
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