Intel acquired Yogitech, which makes safety tools for autonomous car chips, and its Wind River unit bought Arynga, which offers Linux-based OTA for cars.
Italian semiconductor tools firm Yogitech is puny compared to FPGA chip vendor Altera, which Intel Corp. acquired last year for $16.7 billion. Yet the two acquisitions have one thing in common. Both will be used in Intel’s future chips and reference designs aimed at Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and fully autonomous cars. The same goes for this week’s acquisition by Intel software subsidiary Wind River of Azynga, which makes Linux-based, GENIVI-compliant CarSync software for enabling OTA updates in automotive computers (see farther below).
In the blog announcement Ken Caviasca, VP and GM of platform engineering and development in Intel’s Internet of Things Group, did not mention how much Intel paid for Yogitech. According to Caviasca, the acquisition “furthers our efforts to win in ADAS, robotics and autonomous machines for market segments like automotive, industrial and other IoT systems that require functional safety and high performance.” Some 30 percent of the IoT market segment will require functional safety by 2020, wrote Caviasca.
Yogitech fRIPs safety components in an automotive design
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Yogitech’s Linux-ready faultRobust family of chip design tool suites helps chip designers bake in functional safety features in processors. The target is primarily automotive, but the tools also support industrial automation, railway, and biomedical applications.
According to Forbes, Pisa, Italy based Yogitech already works with ARM, Fujitsu, ST, TI, and Toshiba. The latter, which is a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux working group, this week announced it will establish a third Toyota Research Institute facility in Ann Arbor, Mich., joining hubs sited in Cambridge, Mass. and Palo Alto.
faultRobust’s central suite is fRMethodology, which helps chip designers analyze safety functionality and explore safety-oriented design in integrated circuits. There’s also a fRSTLs (fault Robust Software Test Libraries) set of test libraries that can detect and flag potentially dangerous failures in integrated components. Other features include faultRobust IPs (fRIPs), a family of fault detection and fault tolerance mechanisms for chips including SoCs, FPGAs, MCUs, and ASICs (see diagram farther above).
Yogitech’s fRTools suite, meanwhile, helps “perform functional safety analyses and assessments of many IPs and complex microprocessors,” says Yogitech. The tools support FMEDA and safety verification of ICs with an “ASILD – TCL” confidence level, as per ISO 26262, as well as a T2 level according to IEC 61508, says the company.
The fRTools suite comprises Safety Designer, which works on Lubuntu Linux or Windows computers, and Safety Verifier, which runs only on Red Hat Embedded Linux (RHEL). Yogitech will add RHEL support to Safety Designer in the coming months.
Wind River picks up Arynga for automotive OTA
Also this week, Intel’s software subsidiary, Wind River, announced it had acquired Arynga, and that Arynga’s entire software portfolio for automotive over-the-air (OTA) updates had been added to Wind River’s recently announced Helix Chassis automotive software. Wind River Helix Chassis includes the Wind River Linux-based “Cockpit” and VxWorks-based “Drive,” as well as related IoT device access middleware and cloud services.
Wind River Helix Chassis overview
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The central component of Arynga’s OTA technology is its Linux-based, GENIVI compatible CarSync platform. This “intelligent vehicle software management system” is said to allow OEMs and Tier One automotive suppliers to provide both software-over-the-air (SOTA) and firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updates.
Arynga’s CarSync helps OEMs “manage software in the car throughout its development lifecycle, keeping it updated with the latest revisions,” says Wind River. After deployment, OTA can “significantly reduce costs associated with software-related warranty and recall for OEMs,” as well as provide useful analytics, says the company.
“OTA gives OEMs a lifecycle platform to provide efficient updates and deliver content to cars, and as IoT continues to grow, to any embedded device,” stated Marques McCammon, GM of connected vehicle solutions at Wind River.
Tesla Model S
OTA was first introduced in cars by Tesla Motors in its Linux-driven Model S electric car. Now other carmakers are scrambling to add OTA in order to reduce costs and keep software current and safe, according to a January report from Automotive News.
Tesla used FOTA software from Harman International’s Redbend unit to achieve the over-the-air rollout of its Autopilot driver-assist system in 2015. The software replaces only that code that needs to be changed, thereby reducing cellular data costs.
Ford, meanwhile, is trying a WiFi-based OTA system for its QNX-based Sync 3 system using its Microsoft Azure based Ford Service Delivery Network. According to Automotive News, a company called Movimento is using a two-step process that involves Bluetooth, and requires an intermediary smartphone for OTA updates.
Intel in automotive
According to Intel’s Caviasca, “nearly all” of today’s autonomous vehicle prototypes run on Intel processors. We can’t confirm that, but we know that Google’s self-driving prototypes have run Ubuntu on Intel processors.
Intel first got into the ADAS and self-driving car game back in 2012, when it established the $100 million Intel Capital Connected Car Fund to invest in advanced automotive technologies. The fund has poured money into Japanese automotive tech firm ZMP, which offers a partially Linux-based autonomous driving platform with connected sensors, radars, and cameras. More recently, Sony forged a partnership with ZMP to develop a self-driving car.
Other Intel automotive investment targets have included CloudMade (IVI data aggregation and cloud connectivity), Mocana (IVI security, including mobile app-shielding), and Tobii Technology, (perceptual computing technology for ADAS). In 2014, Intel announced a Linux- and Intel Atom-based platform called Intel In-Vehicle Solutions for assisted driving and eventually self-driving cars. Last summer, Intel announced it was integrating Arynga’s CarSync in the Intel IIVS solution.
More recently, vendors specializing in mobile ARM processors like Nvidia and Qualcomm have targeted the ADAS and self-driving markets. Nvidia has pushed its graphics-intensive Tegra processors including the Tegra X1 at such markets, and in January it showed off a Tegra-based Drive PX 2 automotive mainboard design. At the same CES show, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 820A version of its latest Snapdragon 820 SoC designed for IVI and ADAS.
Like most of these platforms, a future Intel-based ADAS or autonomous SoC incorporating the Yogitech technology will have a wider application focus in robotics and other IoT applications. This synergy should help push automotive autonomy and functional safety forward more quickly.