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Automotive-oriented hypervisor taps ARM TrustZone

Oct 28, 2013 — by Eric Brown 3,143 views

Mentor Graphics announced a small-footprint hypervisor designed for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and automotive telematics systems that use its Linux-, Android-, Nucleus-, and AUTOSAR-based automotive middleware. Mentor Embedded Hypervisor supports single- or multi-core AMP and SMP architectures, as well as ARM TrustZone security technology, and can partition devices and memory to prevent unauthorized access.

Mentor Embedded Hypervisor is designed for IVI systems, telematics, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and instrumentation, says Mentor Graphics. Although this small-footprint Type 1 hypervisor supports the implementation of multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) on a single-core processor, its main purpose is to enable asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), or a combination of both, on multicore processors. On such platforms, the software enables single or multiple VMs running on each core.

Mentor Embedded Hypervisor architecture
(click image to enlarge)


The platform primarily targets ARM Cortex processors that make use of ARM TrustZone security features. Mentor Embedded Hypervisor leverages TrustZone and multiprocessing architectures to provide hardware-based partitioning of resources such as memory, crypto blocks, and keyboard and screens, “creating a completely separate secure world operating environment,” says the company.


The software supports both virtualized device access and direct device access, and provides “various mechanisms for inter-guest communications,” according to Mentor. This is said to enable the system to offer both normal and secure operations, such as IVI on the one hand, and secure boot and secure PIN access on the other, within a single embedded application.

ARM TrustZone architecture
(click image to enlarge)


Virtualization will be a key to the success of open source IVI platforms such as Linux/GENIVI or Android. While automakers are increasingly turning to such platforms for their advanced multimedia and Internet support, as well as for cost and time-to-market reasons, these more open platforms come with a risk of infecting secure telematics functionality that typically runs on real-time operating system (RTOS).

With this challenge in mind, Mentor’s software supports a variety of Mentor OS platforms, providing automotive OEMs and Tier Ones with “the unique ability to design systems that can combine Linux, AUTOSAR, real-time, and bare-metal applications and subsystems,” says the company.

Mentor Embedded Hypervisor supports:

  • Mentor Embedded Automotive Technology Platform (ATP) — Based on MontaVista’s GENIVI-compliant ATP stack, Mentor Embedded ATP substitutes Mentor Embedded Linux for the original MontaVista Linux foundation. Compliant with GENIVI standards, as well as Yocto Project, Qt, and HTML5 technologies, Mentor’s ATP supports both Linux and Android targets. It also adds support for its own Inflexion UI development environment, and integration with Mentor’s Sourcery CodeBench and Sourcery Analyzer tools. Last month, it added Jungo Connectivity’s multimedia player middleware.
  • Mentor Volcano AUTOSAR — This family of electronic design and development solutions is based on the AUTOSAR telematics interoperability standard and the OSEK RTOS. It includes various Vstar-branded modules for vehicle system design, integration, and networking, as well as CAN and LIN I/O modules.
  • Nucleus RTOS — Mentor’s Nucleus RTOS has been deployed on more than 3 billion devices, says Mentor.

An additional feature of Mentor’s Embedded Hypervisor is fast boot times. With the help of the integrated Mentor Embedded Sourcery Analyzer, test and debug times can be further reduced by consolidating multiple functions on a single multicore platform, says the company.

Support for TI’s IVI-focused SoC

Mentor mentioned one Linux-ready ARM SoC that will be paired with the technology: the IVI-focused Texas Instruments Jacinto 6. Announced in January, and more specifically dubbed the DRA74x, TI’s Jacinto 6 combines dual Cortex-A15 cores, four Cortex-M4 cores, and dual SGX544 3D graphics cores. It also adds audio, analytics, and radio accelerators, along with a variety of interfaces and peripherals. The SoC appears to have begun sampling, and is expected to be available for production by the second half of 2014.

“The Mentor Embedded Hypervisor, along with Mentor’s AUTOSAR and Linux-based automotive software expertise, will enable automotive Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs to fully take advantage of advanced platforms such as the Jacinto 6 by bringing together infotainment, instrument cluster and telematics functionality on one integrated SoC,” stated Matt Watson, general manager of Audio and Infotainment at Texas Instruments.

“Mentor’s continued investment in technologies like the Mentor Embedded Hypervisor enables automotive suppliers to take advantage of upcoming multi-core SoCs and provide more functionality and connectivity in a single hardware unit while maintaining isolation and separation for critical functionality,” added Andree Zahir, vice president, head of engineering business unit AI (Automotive Navigation and Infotainment Systems) Robert Bosch Car Multimedia GmbH.

Further Information

The Mentor Embedded Hypervisor will ship in December, says Mentor Graphics. More information may be found at the Mentor Embedded Hypervisor product page.

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