Tag Archives: automotive

Are you designing for the latest automotive embedded system?


Eventually, self-driving cars will arrive. But until then, here’s a look at what will drive that progression.


The next arrow of development is set for automotive

We all have seen it. We all have read about it in your front-center technology news outlets. The next forefront for technology will take place in the vehicle. The growing market fitted with the feature deviation trend does not appeal to the vision of customizing more traditional un-connected, oiled and commonly leveraged chassis vehicles of today. Instead, ubiquity in smartphones have curved a design trend, now mature while making way for the connected car platform. The awaiting junction is here for more integration of the automotive software stack.  Opportunities for the connected car market are huge, but multiple challenges still exist. Life-cycles in the development of automotive and the mobile industry are a serious barrier for the future of connected cars. Simply, vehicles take much longer to develop than smartphones other portable gadgetry. More integration from vendors and suppliers are involved with the expertise to seamlessly fit the intended blueprint of the design. In fact, new features such as the operating system are becoming more prevalent, while the demand for sophisticated and centrally operated embedded systems are taking the height of the evolution. This means more dependence on integration of data from various channels, actuators, and sensors — the faculty to operate all the new uses cases such as automatic emergency response systems are functionality requiring more SoC embedded system requirements.

A step toward the connected car - ecall and how it works

What is happening now?

People. Process. Governance. Adoption. Let’s look at the similarities stemmed from change. We are going to witness new safety laws and revised regulations coming through the industry. These new laws will dictate the demand for connectivity. Indeed, drawing importance this 2015 year with the requirement set by 2018, European Parliament voted in favor of eCall regulation. Cars in Europe must be equipped with eCall, a system that automatically contacts emergency services directing them to the vehicle location in the event of an emergency. The automotive and mobile industries have different regional and market objectives. Together, all the participants in both market segments will need to find ways to collaborate in order to satisfy consumer connectivity needs. Case in point, Chrysler has partnered with Nextel to successfully connect cars like their Dodge Viper, while General Motors uses AT&T as its mobile development partner.

General Motors selected AT&T as its mobile partner

What is resonating from the sales floor and customer perspective?

The demand is increasing for more sophistication and integration of software in the cabin of cars. This is happening from the manufacturer to the supplier network then to the integration partners — all are becoming more engaged to achieve the single outcome, pacing toward the movement to the connected car. Stretched as far as the actual retail outlets, auto dealers are shifting their practice to be more tech savvy, too. The advent of the smart  vehicle has already dramatically changed the dealership model, while more transformation awaits the consumer.

On the sales floor as well as the on-boarding experience, sales reps must plan to spend an hour or more teaching customers how to use their car’s advanced technology. But still, these are only a few mentioned scenarios where things have changed in relation to cars and how they are sold and even to the point of how they are distributed, owned, and serviced. One thing for certain, though, is that the design and user trend are intersecting to help shape the demand and experience a driver wants in the connected car. This is further bolstered by the fast paced evolution of smartphones and the marketing experiences now brought forth by the rapid adoption and prolific expansion of the mobile industry tethered by their very seamless and highly evolved experiences drawn from their preferred apps.

Today, customer experiences are becoming more tailored while users, albeit on the screen or engaged with their mobile devices are getting highly acquainted with the expectation of “picking up from where I left off” regardless of what channel, medium, device, or platform.  Seamless experiences are breaking through the market.  We witness Uber, where users initialize their click on their smartphone then follows by telemetry promoted from Uber drivers and back to the users smart phone.  In fact, this happens vis versa, Uber driver’s have information on their console showing customer location and order of priority.  Real life interactions are being further enhanced by real-time data, connecting one device to draw forth another platform to continue the journey.  Transportation is one of the areas where we can see real-time solutions changing our day-to-day engagement.  Some of these are being brought forth by Atmel’s IoT cloud partners such as PubNub where they leverage their stack in devices to offer dispatch, vehicle state, and geo fencing for many vehicle platforms.  Companies like Lixar, LoadSmart, GetTaxi, Sidecar, Uber, Lyft are using real-time technologies as integral workings to their integrated vehicle platforms.

The design trajectory for connected cars continues to follow this arrow forward

Cars are becoming more of a software platform where value chain add-ons tied to an ecosystem are enabled within the software tethered by the cloud where data will continue to enhance the experience. The design trajectory for connected cars follow this software integration arrow.  Today, the demand emphasizes mobility along with required connectivity to customer services and advanced functions like power management for electric vehicles, where firmware/software updates further produce refined outcomes in the driver experience (range of car, battery management, other driver assisted functionalities).

Carmakers and mobile operators are debating the best way to connect the car to the web. Built-in options could provide stronger connections, but some consumers prefer tethering their existing smartphone to the car via Bluetooth or USB cable so they can have full access to their personal contacts and playlists. Connected car services will eventually make its way to the broader car market where embedded connections and embedded systems supporting these connections will begin to leverage various needs to integrate traditional desperate signals into a more centrally managed console.

Proliferation of the stack

The arrow of design for connected cars will demand more development, bolstering the concept that software and embedded systems factored with newly-introduced actuators and sensors will become more prevalent. We’re talking about “software on wheels,” “SoC on wheels,” and “secured mobility.”

Design wise, the cost-effective trend will still remain with performance embedded systems. Many new cars may have extremely broad range of sensor and actuator‑based IoT designs which can be implemented on a single compact certified wireless module.

The arrow for connected cars will demand more development bolstering the concept that software and embedded systems factored with newly introduced actuators & sensors will become more prevalent; “software on wheels”, “SoC on wheels” and “secured mobility”.

Similarly, having fastest startup times by performing the task with a high-performance MCU vs MPU, is economic for a designer. It can not only reduce significant bill of materials cost, development resources, sculpted form factor, custom wireless design capabilities, but also minimize the board footprint. Aside from that, ARM has various IoT device development options, offering partner ecosystems with modules that have open standards. This ensures ease of IoT or connected car connectivity by having type approval certification through restrictive access to the communications stacks.

Drivers will be prompted with new end user applications — demand more deterministic code and processing with chips that support the secure memory capacity to build and house the software stack in these connected car applications.

Feature upon feature, layer upon layer of software combined with characteristics drawn from the events committed by drivers, tires, wheels, steering, location, telemetry, etc. Adapted speed and braking technologies are emerging now into various connected car makes, taking the traditional ABS concept to even higher levels combined with intelligence, along with controlled steering and better GPS systems, which will soon enable interim or cruise hands-free driving and parking.

Connected Car Evolution

Longer term, the technological advances behind the connected car will eventually lead to self-driving vehicles, but that very disruptive concept is still far out.

Where lies innovation and change is disruption

Like every eventual market disruption, there will be the in-between development of this connected car evolution. Innovative apps are everywhere, especially the paradigm where consumers have adopted to the seamless transitional experiences offered by apps and smartphones. Our need for ubiquitous connectivity and mobility, no matter where we are physically, is changing our vehicles into mobile platforms that want us users to seamlessly be connected to the world. This said demand for connectivity increases with the cost and devices involved will become more available. Cars as well as other mobility platforms are increasingly becoming connected packages with intelligent embedded systems. Cars are offering more than just entertainment — beyond providing richer multimedia features and in-car Internet access.  Further integration of secure and trusted vital data and connectivity points (hardware security/processing, crypto memory, and crypto authentication) can enable innovative navigation, safety and predictive maintenance capabilities.

Carmakers are worried about recent hacks,  especially with issues of security and reliability, making it unlikely that they will be open to every kind of app.  They’ll want to maintain some manufactured control framework and secure intrusion thwarting with developers, while also limiting the number of apps available in the car managing what goes or conflicts with the experience and safety measures.  Importantly, we are taking notice even now. Disruption comes fast, and Apple and others have been mentioned to enter this connected car market. This is the new frontier for technological equity scaling and technology brand appeal. Much like what we seen in the earlier models of Blackberry to smartphones, those late in the developmental evolution of their platforms may be forced adrift or implode by the market.

No one is arguing it will happen. Eventually, self-driving cars will arrive.  But for now, it remains a futuristic concept.

What can we do now in the invention, design and development process?

The broader output of manufactured cars will need to continue in leveraging new designs that take in more integration of traditional siloed integration vendors so that the emergence of more unified and centrally managed embedded controls can make its way. Hence, the importance now exists in the DNA of a holistically designed platform fitted with portfolio of processors and security to take on new service models and applications.

This year, we have compiled an interesting mixture of technical articles to support the development and engineering of car access systems, CAN and LIN networks, Ethernet in the car, capacitive interfaces and capacitive proximity measurement.

In parallel to the support of helping map toward the progress and evolution of the connected car, a new era of design exists. One in which the  platform demands embedded controls to evenly match their design characteristics and application use cases. We want to also highlight the highest performing ARM Cortex-M7 based MCU in the market, combining exceptional memory and connectivity options for leading design flexibility. The Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7 family is ideal for automotive, IoT and industrial connectivity markets. These SAM V/E/S family of microcontrollers are the industry’s highest performing Cortex-M microcontrollers enhancing performance, while keeping cost and power consumption in check.

So are you designing for the latest automotive, IoT, or industrial product? Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Optimized for real-time deterministic code execution and low latency peripheral data access
  • Six-stage dual-issue pipeline delivering 1500 CoreMarks at 300MHz
  • Automotive-qualified ARM Cortex-M7 MCUs with Audio Video Bridging (AVB) over Ethernet and Media LB peripheral support (only device in the market today)
  • M7 provides 32-bit floating point DSP capability as well as faster execution times with greater clock speed, floating point and twice the DSP power of the M4

We are taking the connected car design to the next performance level — having high-speed connectivity, high-density on-chip memory, and a solid ecosystem of design engineering tools. Recently, Atmel’s Timothy Grai added a unveiling point to the DSP story in Cortex-M7 processor fabric. True DSPs don’t do control and logical functions well; they generally lack the breadth of peripherals available on MCUs. “The attraction of the M7 is that it does both — DSP functions and control functions — hence it can be classified as a digital signal controller (DSC).” Grai quoted the example of Atmel’s SAM V70 and SAM V71 microcontrollers are used to connect end-nodes like infotainment audio amplifiers to the emerging Ethernet AVB network. In an audio amplifier, you receive a specific audio format that has to be converted, filtered, and modulated to match the requirement for each specific speaker in the car. Ethernet and DSP capabilities are required at the same time.

“The the audio amplifier in infotainment applications is a good example of DSC; a mix of MCU capabilities and peripherals plus DSP capability for audio processing. Most of the time, the main processor does not integrate Ethernet AVB, as the infotainment connectivity is based on Ethernet standard,” Grai said. “Large SoCs, which usually don’t have Ethernet interface, have slow start-up time and high power requirements. Atmel’s SAM V7x MCUs allow fast network start-up and facilitate power moding.”

Atmel has innovative memory technology in its DNA — critical to help fuel connected car and IoT product designers. It allows them to run the multiple communication stacks for applications using the same MCU without adding external memory. Avoiding external memories reduces the PCB footprint, lowers the BOM cost and eliminates the complexity of high-speed PCB design when pushing the performance to a maximum.

Importantly, the Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M7 family achieves a 1500 CoreMark Score, delivering superior connectivity options and unique memory architecture that can accommodate the said evolve of the eventual “SoC on wheels” design path for the connected car.

How to get started

  1. Download this white paper detailing how to run more complex algorithms at higher speeds.
  2. Check out the Atmel Automotive Compilation.
  3. Attend hands-on training onboard the Atmel Tech on Tour trailer. Following these sessions, you will walk away with the Atmel | SMART SAM V71 Xplained Ultra Evaluation Kit.
  4. Design the newest wave of embedded systems using SAM E70, SAM S70, or SAM V70 (ideal for automotive, IoT, smart gateways, industrial automation and drone applications, while the auto-grade SAM V70 and SAM V71 are ideal for telematics, audio amplifiers and advanced media connectivity).

IMG_3659

[Images: European Commission, GSMA]

How Ethernet AVB is playing a central role in automotive streaming applications


Ethernet is emerging as the network of choice for infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems, Atmel’s Tim Grai explains.


Imagine you’re driving down the highway with the music blaring, enjoying the open road. Now imagine that the sound from your rear speaker system is delayed by a split second from the front; your enjoyment of the fancy in-car infotainment system comes to a screeching halt.

Ethernet is emerging as the network of choice for infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems that include cameras, telematics, rear-seat entertainment systems and mobile phones. But standard Ethernet protocols can’t assure timely and continuous audio/video (A/V) content delivery for bandwidth intensive and latency sensitive applications without buffering, jitter, lags or other performance hits.

fig1_popup

Audio-Video Bridging (AVB) over Ethernet is a collection of extensions to the IEEE802.1 specifications that enables local Ethernet networks to stream time synchronised, loss sensitive A/V data. Within an Ethernet network, the AVB extensions help differentiate AVB traffic from the non-AVB traffic that can also flow through the network. This is done using an industry standard approach that allows for plug-and-play communication between systems from multiple vendors.

The extensions that define the AVB standard achieve this by:

  • reserving bandwidth for AVB data transfers to avoid packet loss due to network congestion from ‘talker’ to ‘listener(s)’
  • establishing queuing and forwarding rules for AVB packets that keep packets from bunching and guarantee delivery of packets with a bounded latency from talker to listener(s) via intermediate switches, if needed
  • synchronizing time to a global clock so the time bases of all network nodes are aligned precisely to a common network master clock, and
  • creating time aware packets which include a ‘presentation time’ that specifies when A/V data inside a packet has to be played.

Designers of automotive A/V systems need to understand the AVB extensions and requirements, as well as how their chosen microcontroller will support that functionality.

AVB: A basket of standards

AVB requires that three extensions be met in order to comply with IEEE802.1:

  • IEEE802.1AS – timing and synchronisation for time-sensitive applications (gPTP)
  • IEEE802.1Qat – stream reservation protocol (SRP)
  • IEEE802.1Qav – forwarding and queuing for time-sensitive streams (FQTSS).

In order to play music or video from one source, such as a car’s head unit, to multiple destinations, like backseat monitors, amplifiers and speakers, the system needs a common understanding of time in order to avoid lags or mismatch in sound or video. IEEE802.1AS-2011 specifies how to establish and maintain a single time reference – a synchronised ‘wall clock’ – for all nodes in a local network. The generalized precision time protocol (gPTP), based on IEEE1588, is used to synchronize and syntonize all network nodes to sub-microsecond accuracy. Nodes are synchronized if their clocks show the same time and are syntonised if their clocks increase at the same rate.

fig.2

This protocol selects a Grand Master Clock from which the current time is propagated to all network end-stations. In addition, the protocol specifies how to correct for clock offset and clock drifts by measuring path delays and frequency offsets. New MCUs, such as the Atmel | SMART SAMV7x (shown above), detect and capture time stamps automatically when gPTP event messages cross MII layers. They can also transport gPTP messages over raw Ethernet, IPv4 or IPv6. This hardware recognition feature helps to calculate clock offset and link delay with greater accuracy and minimal software load.

Meanwhile, SRP guarantees end-to-end bandwidth reservation for all streams to ensure packets aren’t delayed or dropped at any switch due to network congestion, which can occur with standard Ethernet. For the in-vehicle environment, SRP is typically configured in advance by the car maker, who defines data streams and bandwidth allocations.

Talkers (the source of A/V data) ‘advertise’ data streams and their characteristics. Switches process these announcements from talker and listeners to:

  • register and prune streams’ path through the network
  • reserve bandwidth and prevent over subscription of available bandwidth
  • establish forwarding rules for incoming packets
  • establish the SRP domain, and
  • merge multiple listener declarations for the same stream

The standard stipulates that AVB data can reserve only 75% of total available bandwidth, so for a 100Mbit/s link, the maximum AVB data is 75Mbit/s. The remaining bandwidth can be used for all other Ethernet protocols.

In automotive systems, the streams may be preconfigured and bandwidth can be reserved statically at system startup to reduce the time needed to bring the network into a fully operational state. This supports safety functions, such as driver alerts and the reversing camera, that must be displayed within seconds.

SRP uses other signalling protocols, such as Multiple MAC Registration Protocol, Multiple VLAN Registration Protocol and Multiple Stream Registration Protocol to establish bandwidth reservations for A/V streams dynamically.

The third extension is FQTSS, which guarantees that time sensitive A/V streams arrive at their listeners within a bounded latency. It also defines procedures for priority regenerations and credit based traffic shaper algorithms to meet stream reservations for all available devices.

The AVB standard can support up to eight traffic classes, which are used to determine quality of service. Typically, nodes support at least two traffic classes – Class A, the highest priority, and Class B. Microcontroller features help manage receive and transmit data with multiple priority queues to support AVB and ‘best effort class’ non AVB data.

box

Automotive tailored requirements

Automotive use cases typically fix many parameters at the system definition phase, which means that AVB implementation can be optimised and simplified to some extent.

  • Best Master Clock algorithm (BMCA): the best clock master is fixed at the network definition phase so dynamic selection using BCMA isn’t needed.
  • SRP: all streams, their contents and their characteristics are known at system definition and no new streams are dynamically created or destroyed; the proper reservation of data is known at the system definition phase; switches, talkers and listeners can have their configurations loaded at system startup from pre-configured tables, rather than from dynamic negotiations
  • Latency; while this is not critical, delivery is. Automotive networks are very small with only a few nodes between a talker and listener. It is more important not to drop packets due to congestion.

Conclusion

The requirement to transfer high volumes of time sensitive audio and video content inside vehicles necessitates developers to understand and apply the Ethernet AVB extensions. AVB standardization results in interoperable end-devices from multiple vendors that can deliver audio and video streams to distributed equipment on the network with micro-second accuracy or better. While the standard brings complexities, new MCUs with advanced features are simplifying automotive A/V design.


This article was originally published on New Electronics on October 13, 2015 and authored by Tim Grai, Atmel’s Director of Automotive MCU Application Engineering. 

Creating realtime IoT dashboards and maps with PubNub


EON is an open source JavaScript framework for creating beautiful realtime dashboards, charts and maps.


The realtime publishing and streaming of data is a key component of the Internet of Things, especially when it comes to tracking and monitoring connected devices. We need a way to easily collect, detect, and distribute data as it’s created or changes, and immediately have it be received and acted upon.

There are several great frameworks for bringing data to life: D3.js, C3.js, WebGL, the list goes on. However, the missing component is how to deliver and reflect changes in that data in realtime, a vital requirement of the ever-growing IoT. Whether you’re streaming sensor data to a dashboard, monitoring device(s) health, or tracking a fleet of vehicles on a live-updating map, delivering the data in realtime is essential.

With this in mind, PubNub wanted an easier way to stream data to create beautiful IoT dashboards, charts, and maps. And so, the team built Project EON, an open source Javascript framework. EON not only enables you to build these dashboards and maps, but stream the raw JSON data to them as well.

iot maps and geolocation

Let’s check out the details! Then we’ll show you EON in action, using an Atmel MCU (because what’s better than connecting hardware and software?).

Realtime Charts and Dashboards for Connected Devices

The charting and graphing component of EON is based on C3.js, an open source charting library. This allows you to build realtime line, bar, pie, gauge, and donut charts. When new data is streamed, transitions are animated and changes are reflected in realtime — no manual refreshing required!

These charts are especially useful when it comes to monitoring and displaying data from Internet of Things connected devices, and gives you flexibility on how you want to display that data.

EON bar, pie, and gauge charts

EON bar, pie, and gauge charts

IoT use cases include:

  • Home automation: Temperature readings, power usage and consumption for individual devices
  • Connected car: RPMs, state of fleet of vehicles, analytics on vehicles including gas usage, capacity, or money earned, vehicle telemetry
  • Industrial and factory: Oil field sensor readings, brewery analytics (eg. pressure, capacity), factory statistics

Mapping for Connected Vehicles and Wearables

Realtime maps are a staple of any connected transportation application. For applications on the move, you need a way to track movement and current location.

The mapping and geolocation component of EON is based on Mapbox, a series of APIs and tools for building custom maps. Give EON a marker icon (bus, train, plane, person), and a geolocation. When the geolocation is updated, the market animates and travels to the new location.

EON maps for bus systems, aircrafts, and wearables

EON maps for bus systems, aircrafts, and wearables

IoT use cases for live-updating maps include:

  • Connected car, fleet management and public transportation: navigation, taxi/rideshare dispatch based on proximity, collect and publish road conditions, hailing and fare calculation for car services, monitor and calculate route and arrival times for public transit
  • Wearables: navigation and tracking, fitness applications
  • Air and sea: track and monitor location of aircraft and sea craft for consumer travel, freight, and delivery.

In Action: Atmel MCU Realtime Temperature Sensor

So let’s see EON and the Internet of Things working together!

Our demo application is a realtime temperature sensor built using an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 Xplained Pro and a temperature sensor. The concept is fairly simple, we collect the data using the Atmel sensor, and stream it in realtime to a live dashboard, where the temperature data is displayed as it changes.

That streaming and visualization is EON at work. And with some CSS added on, we have something that looks like this:

xplained_pro_demo_gif

Just think, this is just a simple demonstration. Imagine having hundreds or even thousands of these sensors spread across a region, all collecting and streaming that data to a single dashboard. Or even a single sensor streaming to hundreds of dashboards, all simultaneously.

The use cases are endless, and it really comes down to collecting data, streaming data, and visualizing that data. And that’s where EON does the work.

To learn more about the Atmel Realtime Temperature Sensor demo, check out our full tutorial and code repository, or watch the video below.

Atmel tightens automotive focus with new Cortex-M7 MCUs


Large SoCs without an Ethernet interface typically have slow start-up times and high-power requirements — until now. 


Atmel, a lead partner for the ARM Cortex-M7 processor launch in October 2014, has unveiled three new M7-based microcontrollers with a unique memory architecture and advanced connectivity features for the connected car market.

According to a company spokesman, E70, V71 and V70 chips are the industry’s highest performing Cortex-M microcontrollers with six-stage dual-issue pipeline delivering 1500 CoreMarks at 300MHz. Moreover, V70 and V71 microcontrollers are the only automotive-qualified ARM Cortex-M7 MCUs with Audio Video Bridging (AVB) over Ethernet and Media LB peripheral support.

Cortex-M7-chip-diagramLG

Atmel is among the first suppliers to introduce the ARM Cortex-M7-based MCUs, whose core combines performance and simplicity and further pushes the performance envelope for embedded devices. The new MCU devices are aimed to take the connected car design to the next performance level with high-speed connectivity, high-density on-chip memory, and a solid ecosystem of design engineering tools.

Atmel’s Memory Play

Atmel has memory technology in its DNA, and that seems apparent in the design footprint of E70, V70 and V71 MCUs. The San Jose-based chipmaker is offering a flexible memory system that is optimized for performance, determinism and low latency.

Jacko Wilbrink, Senior Marketing Director at Atmel, said that the company’s Cortex-M7-based MCUs leverage Atmel’s advanced peripherals and flexible SRAM architecture for higher performance applications while keeping the Cortex-M class ease-of-use. He added that the large on-chip SRAM on SAM E70/V70/V71 chips is critical for connected car and IoT product designers since it allows them to run the multiple communication stacks and applications on the same MCU without adding external memory.

On-chip DMA and low-latency access SRAM architecture

On-chip DMA and low-latency access SRAM architecture

Avoiding the external memories reduces the PCB footprint, lowers the BOM cost and eliminates the complexity of high-speed PCB design when pushing the performance to a maximum. Next, Tim Grai, another senior manager at Atmel, pointed out another critical take from Cortex-M7 designs: The tightly coupled memory (TCM) interface. It provides the low-latency memory that the processor can use without the unpredictability that is a feature of cache memories.

Grai says that the most vital memory feature is not the memory itself but how the TCM interface to the M7 is utilized. “The available RAM is configurable to be used as system RAM or tightly-coupled instruction and data memory to the core, where it provides deterministic zero-wait state access,” Grai added. “The arrangement of SRAM allows for multiple concurrent accesses.”

Cortex-M7 a DSP Winner

According to Will Strauss, President & Principal Analyst at Forward Concepts, ARM has had considerable success with its Cortex-M4 power-efficient 32-bit processor chip family. “However, realizing that it lacked the math ability to do more sophisticated DSP functions, ARM has introduced the Cortex-M7, its newest and most powerful member of the Cortex-M family.”

Strauss adds that the M7 provides 32-bit floating point DSP capability as well as faster execution times. With the greater clock speed, floating point and twice the DSP power of the M4, the M7 is even more attractive for applications requiring high-performance audio and even video accompanying traditional automotive and control applications.

Atmel’s Grai added an interesting dimension to the DSP story in Cortex-M7 processor fabric. He pointed out that true DSPs don’t do control and logical functions well and generally lack the breadth of peripherals available on MCUs. “The attraction of the M7 is that it does both—DSP functions and control functions—hence it can be classified as a digital signal controller (DSC).”

Grai quoted the example of Atmel V70 and V71 microcontrollers used to connect end-nodes like infotainment audio amplifiers to the emerging Ethernet AVB network. In an audio amplifier, you receive a specific audio format that has to be converted, filtered, modulated to match the requirement for each specific speaker in the car. So you need Ethernet and DSP capabilities at the same time.

Grai says that the audio amplifier in infotainment applications is a good example of DSC: a mix of MCU capabilities and peripherals plus DSP capability for audio processing. Atmel is targeting the V70 and V71 chips as a bridge between large application processors and Ethernet.

Most of the time, the main processor does not integrate Ethernet AVB, as the infotainment connectivity is based on Ethernet standard. Here, the V71 microcontroller brings this feature to the main processor. “Large SoCs, which usually don’t have Ethernet interface, have slow start-up time and high power requirements,” Grai said. “Atmel’s V7x MCUs allow fast network start-up and facilitate power moding.”

The SAM E70, V70 and V71

Atmel’s three new MCU devices are aimed at multiple aspects of in-vehicle infotainment connectivity and telematics control.

SAM E70: The microcontroller series features Dual CAN-FD, 10/100 Ethernet MAC with IEEE1588 real-time stamping, and AVB support. It’s aimed at automotive industry’s movement toward controller area network (CAN) message-based protocols holistically across the cabin, eliminating isolation and wire redundancy, and have them all bridged centrally with the CAN interface.

SAM V70: It’s designed for MediaLB connectivity and leverages advanced audio processing, multi-port memory architecture and Cortex-M7 DSP capabilities. For the media-oriented systems transport (MOST) architecture, old modules are not redesigned. So Atmel offers a MOST solution that is done over Media Local Bus (MediaLB) and is supported by the V70 series.

SAM V71: The MCU series ports a complete automotive Ethernet AVB stack for in-vehicle infotainment connectivity, audio amplifiers, telematics and head control units. It mirrors the SAM V70 series features as well as combines Ethernet-AVB and MediaLB connectivity stacks.


Majeed Ahmad is the author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

Report: 150 million cars will be connected to the Internet by 2020

Finally, it looks like Disney won’t be the only place you’ll find “talking cars.” In fact, vehicles will be among the billions of “things” Internet-enabled by 2020, a Computerworld article has revealed.

giphy

In just five years, nearly 150 million vehicles will be connected via Wi-Fi, while 60% to 75% of them will be capable of consuming, creating and sharing web-based data. This enhanced connectivity will allow carmakers to modify their existing business model from simply hardware to tech innovators that draw income from mobile apps. In order to do that, Computerworld notes that vehicle manufacturers will need to join forces with tech heavyweights like Google, Apple and Samsung.

“To facilitate that kind of shift, connected-vehicle leaders in automotive organizations need to partner with existing ecosystems like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay that can simplify access to and integration of general mobile applications into the vehicle,” Gartner Analyst Thilo Koslowski explained in a recent report.

According to a new study by Allied Market Research, the global connected cars market is forecasted to surpass $141 billion over the same five year period, growing at a CAGR of 32.7% between 2014 and 2020. With North America garnering a significant portion of the market share, the  availability of faster communication networks, enhanced driver experiences, advanced connectivity solutions and a user friendly interface will all help drive (no pun intended) the industry.

Throughout the next couple of years, we can expect to see a majority of in-vehicle infotainment systems capable of smartphone integration. Indeed, Gartner predicts that 58% of U.S. and 53% of German vehicle owners want tech firms, not car companies, to take the in-vehicle technology steering wheel.

avantcar

“By 2018, two automakers will have announced plans to become technology companies and expand their connected-vehicle value experiences to other industries and devices. And by 2020, at least one auto company will achieve 10% of its total revenues from connected mobility and service offerings.”

As the amount of information being fed into in-car head units and telematics systems continues to grow, Gartner believes that tomorrow’s vehicles will need to be able to capture, handle and share not only internal systems status and location data, but changes in its surroundings all in real-time.

“Ultimately, your car will become just another part of your mobile data plan.”

The latest study by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that the American government is also looking forward to mandate the use of M2M connectivity solutions into the vehicles. In the years to come, Asia-Pacific could potentially become a prominent automobile market for connected cars.

vehicleswithcircleshighway-660

By 2020, Allied Market Research says both integrated and embedded solutions will be amongst the most popular connectivity offerings in the connected car market, and combined, will account for 80% of the entire industry.

“The increasing importance of human-machine interface (HMI) and cloud-supported user experiences in cars will shift the industry’s R&D focus to new technology and content innovations such as gesture and mood sensing, consumer behavior analysis, and vehicle- and customer-centric services,” Computerworld writes.

Voice-activated apps, in-vehicle cameras and heads-up displays (HUDs) will be key to achieving the safe use of mobile technology in both cars and trucks alike. In the future, apps will be tailored to in-vehicle services, such as scheduling service appointments, driver-related content such as real-time navigation updates, and streaming music and video services — and even the ability to shop online or find and then pay for parking online.

Back at Electronica 2014, Atmel Senior Vice President Rob Valiton explored the ways in which the Internet of Things will affect the auto market, citing OnStar as just one way the IoT has already entered our cars.

“3,000 messages [being sent] per second represents a lot of challenges to the industry, and we here at Atmel plan on solving them.”

 

Tesla Motors unveils “the D”

On what appeared to be just an average fall night in Los Angeles, Elon Musk revealed some not-so-average news around the “Tesla D,” the model he hinted about via Twitter last week. According to Musk, there will be three versions, and each will carry the “D,” to distinguish them from the rear-wheel-drive Model S.

tesla-d-3

While Tesla failed to announce the driverless car that many had expected, it did roll out a bunch of new driver-assistance and safety features, including things like the car being able to read speed-limit signs and adjust its velocity, signals that make the car change lanes, and lane-departure warnings. In addition, Musk even noted that additional features over time, combined with these recently announced ones, could serve almost like “auto-pilot on an airplane.”

(Source: Getty Images)

(Source: Getty Images)

The new suite of safety and driver-aid features will now be equipped with a forward-mounted radar, a camera and 12 sensors, each of which will be able to “see” 16 feet to enable the safety tech. Now, Tesla drivers will be able to get out of their vehicle on private property — like a driveway —  and watch it park itself in the garage. When drivers are ready to leave, the car will able to drive itself up, with the car’s temperature and stereo system set to the driver’s preferences. It also connects to your digital calendar so it knows when it’s needed.

(Source: Associated Press)

(Source: Associated Press)

“It will come to you wherever you are,” Musk tells USA Today‘s Chris Woodyard. “It will slowly make its way to you.”

During the briefing, Tesla shared that it will also have “hopped-up version” of its Model S that features all-wheel drive and goes 0 to 60 mph in just about three seconds. Despite not unveiled a self-driving car, Musk did, however, dub the system “a huge improvement that is taking the technology to the next level.”

Musk told USA TODAY in a recent interview that his favorite car is the super-fast McLaren, a high-price, low-volume production car with racing attributes. Musk believes the quickest Tesla will be able to go toe-to-toe with the McLaren’s 3.2-second sprint to 60 mph.

“It’s like having your own personal roller coaster,” the Tesla CEO says.

The P85D is expected to begin shipping to customers in December, with reports claiming the starting price will be around $120,000. Two additional all-wheel drive models, the 60D and 85D, are projected to arrive in February 2015.

Cars are getting smarter, becoming more electrical and autonomous with radar and sensing that can automatically intervene for performance and safety. No stranger to next-gen vehicles, watch the video below as Rob Valiton discusses the future of the automotive industry and how Atmel’s solutions are helping power this market.

 

Secure at any IoT deed

In his classic book, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” Ralph Nader assailed the auto industry and their approach to styling and cost efficiency at the expense of safety during the 1960s. He squared up on perceived defects in the Chevrolet Corvair, but extended his view to wider issues such as tire inflation ratings favoring passenger comfort over handling characteristics.

History has not treated Nader’s work kindly, possibly because of his politics including a crusade on environmental issues which spurred creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Sharp criticism of Nader’s automotive fault-finding came from Thomas Sowell in a book “The Vision of the Anointed”. He targeted “Teflon prophets,” Nader foremost among them, who foretell of impending calamity using questionable data, unless government intervenes as regulatory savior.

Sowell’s most scathing indictment of Nader was for failing to understand the trade-off between safety and affordability. Others targeted Nader’s logic by suggesting some non-zero level of risk and injury is acceptable if society progresses, supported by data the Corvair was actually no worse in terms of safety among its contemporaries on the automotive market at the time.

Yet, almost five decades later, we have Toyota sudden acceleration damage awards, GM ignition switches and massive recalls in progress, and the prospect that someday soon an autonomous car may go haywire. The problem seems to be not errors of commission, but errors of omission; complex engineering requirements, design, and test are becoming increasingly difficult. Getting all that done at volumes and prices needed to drive model year expectations and consumer market share is a big ask.

In an industrial context of the IoT, “safety critical” design is a science, with standards, and certification, and independent testing. In application segments such as aerospace and defense, medical, industrial automation, and others – even the automotive industry, which has made huge strides in electronics and software development – safety and risk are proactively managed.

Security of consumers on the IoT is another matter. Devices are inexpensive, often created by teams with little to no security experience. Worse yet, there is a stigma around many security features as unnecessary overkill that would slow down performance, get in the way of usability, or increase costs beyond competitiveness. This is an accident waiting to happen.

Or perhaps, one already in progress, if we believe the recent study on firmware in a sampling of consumer devices. A lot of folks think benevolent hackers are also polytetrafluoroethylene-coated, but it is hard to dispute there is cause for concern among embedded devices when it comes to security — especially when those devices connect to networks.

One of the areas cited in the study is encryption, and some rather sloppy handling of keys when it is used. Across the industry, embedded software is wildly inconsistent in approaches to encryption. As the study points out, developers are prone to stamp out copies of aged, flawed solutions because they are comfortable with and invested in a particular approach.

Regulation is the last thing we need here. Engineers need a lot more education, starting from the basics of including and using hardware encryption units on MCUs and SoCs, through the state-of-the-art knowledge in cryptography and certificate management, and up to IT-style approaches such as over-the-air software updates and two-factor authentication.

We also need some deeper thought on encryption implementations, beyond just NIST recommendations. In a web context, we have Transport Layer Security (TLS), but that protocol requires a full IP stack and a lot more horsepower than many small embedded devices can afford. On top of that, hardware encryption is currently very vendor-dependent. Vendors like Atmel are working with ARM on TrustZone technology to create newer implementations based on Trusted Exectuion Environment APIs, tuned for IoT devices instead of data center use.

Historically, encryption has been applied to securing closed systems – the IoT presents a paradox. If it devolves into a myriad of smaller, effectively closed systems that only intermittently share data, we may gain some benefit, but will never reach the vision.

The best case scenario is an effective set of industry practices emerge for encryption in consumer IoT devices before problems become widespread, defeating the very purpose of sharing data with the cloud. We need developers to not avoid encryption, but for that to happen it has to be cost- and implementation-effective for easier use.

This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Don Dingee is a featured blogger. It first appeared there on August 25, 2014.