A collaboration between Continental and Infineon will see the duo developing server-based vehicle architectures. The pair’s aim is to create an organized 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, which has previously been the case.
At present, Continental uses the Aurix TC4 microcontroller from Infineon for its ZCU platform. Due to the advanced storage technology in the Aurix TC4, the vehicle software is on standby, meaning parking assistance, air-conditioning and heating and suspension functions are ready as soon as a vehicle is started.
Through this platform approach, Continental aims to support the varying requirements of automobile OEMs. By individually configuring the number of HPCs and ZCUs, in addition to how they interact and how they are arranged in the vehicle, OEMs will be able to tailor their vehicle architectures to meet their requirements.
“With our new architecture solution, we are making the vehicle fit for the future,” said Gilles Mabire, CTO, Continental Automotive. “The growing variety of vehicle functions requires more and more computing power and increasingly complex software applications. Continental’s new architecture is paving the way for the software-defined vehicle. The cooperation with Infineon is an essential step in realizing this development quickly for our customers. Thanks to our platform strategy, proven application software can be used in new vehicle models, for instance. As a result, the time-consuming validation effort is significantly reduced. New functionalities can be brought into serial production much faster.”
The third generation of Infineon’s Aurix microcontroller range, the TC4x delivers the same scalability in terms of performance, memory and housing variants as the previous Aurix TC2x and TC3x generations. The Aurix TC4x was designed for usage within ZCU and HPC, in addition to other applications such as radar, chassis and safety and powertrain/electrification.
One key element of the latest microcontroller series is the resistive random access memory (RRAM) technology used by Infineon. The technology is currently used in chip cards in cashless payments and for secure authentication. This application marks the first time that RRAM technology has been applied in the automotive sector, and the use of the Aurix TC4x architecture will mean that software programs are nearly always on standby. Other benefits include faster and more secure over-the-air updates for software components.
“The cooperation with Continental makes it possible to bring RRAM technology into automobiles,” commented Peter Schiefer, president of the automotive division, Infineon. “Together with innovation drivers in the automotive industry like Continental, we are shaping the mobility of tomorrow. The microcontroller family Aurix TC4x is an important building block for the next generation of E/E architectures and can make the crucial difference when it comes to efficiency, safety and comfort in future vehicle generations.”
The zone control unit platform which is planned to be developed by the pair will form the middle level of the electrics/electronics architecture between the server level (HPC) and the base level with numerous sensors and actuators.
“We offer all essential components for software-defined vehicle architectures from a single source. The new platform is scalable as well as modular in terms of performance and interfaces. As a result, we can offer maximum flexibility to automobile manufacturers for designing vehicle architecture,” explained Jean-François Tarabbia, head of the business unit architecture and networking, Continental. “Moreover, we enable the integration of third-party hardware and software in order to introduce innovative solutions quickly and cost-effectively.”
The Aurix TC4x range places a focus on state-of-the-art cybersecurity functions and has been developed according to the ISO/SAE 21434-certified process. In addition to other processes, the cybersecurity concept of the Aurix TC4x can support post-quantum processes. This already strengthens protection against quantum computer attacks, which pose a threat to the cryptographic methods used currently.
Data streams from different vehicle domains merge in the zone control units. The data will then be processed and passed on to the HPCs as the top control level via secure ethernet connections. Conversely, the zone control units act as a coordination point for executing commands from the server level.
The Aurix TC4x portfolio meets the requirements for functional safety up to ASIL D, in accordance with the ISO 26262 standard. Additionally, the Aurix TC4x range includes network accelerators to relieve ethernet and CAN communication, in addition to the latest communication functions including 5 GigE, PCIe, 10 Base-T1-S and CAN XL.
“Our new vehicle architecture, consisting of a few powerful zone control units and high-performance computers simplifies the wiring harness substantially. It saves weight and energy,” said Tarabbia. “Thanks to a clear division of tasks in the organized vehicle electronics, the separation of hardware and software and lastly, the necessary standardization of interfaces, the growing complexity and an almost exploding scope of software inside the vehicle can be managed in a much better way.”