Automotive Safety Requirements Impact Ecosystem

Meeting OEM requirements for safety includes the human component, as well a number of technical changes.


As activity by the automotive industry ramps to include sophisticated electronics for things like electrification and autonomous features, the changes that have already begun across the automotive supply chain in support of these are driving up complexity for semiconductor design teams on an exponential scale.

For IP providers like ArterisIP, vice president of marketing, Kurt Shuler, said this can mean a level of openness with customers that is unheard of with other market segments. “In semiconductor IP, we don’t want third parties looking at how we did things and, show the specs for it. We’re like, ‘No, no, no, that’s our IP, we’re not going to show you that.’ [In automotive] you have to have special ways and procedures for a functional safety mechanism. Sometimes we’ve had customers say, ‘I want to see the details of how exactly you implemented that because I want look for systematic errors,’ so we have to have a way to do that. One of the things that’s a best practice when you’re dealing with somebody who really wants to give you a complete and thorough exam can be to actually print out that particular part of the spec on paper, put it in a room and then have the one or two experts from the customer look at it and say it’s okay. They don’t get to take notes or anything, but they get to look at it and give a thumbs up or say they want more information. In that way, it keeps your innovations firewalled, but at the same time they get to look at it and say it makes sense.”

That’s been the biggest issue, he said, in the context of evaluation by the OEMs and Tier 1s. “We pay so much attention to the quantification of functional safety metrics and diagnostic coverage, and the cool stuff of qualifying that diagnostic coverage by actually testing it with fault injection, and all these different things. And the reason we like it is because it’s like a parallel path to verification in a way, so it’s all sexy and everything from a technical standpoint but what you’re going to get dinged on is that you don’t have any people trained in functional safety, you don’t have a functional safety manager who knows what they’re doing and you don’t have any development processes that make sense. That’s what you’re gonna get dinged on.”

On the technical front, the automotive IP ecosystem is in for a number of adjustments as well, observed Ron DiGiuseppe, automotive IP segment manager in Synopsys’ Solutions Group. “We see tremendous change happening in terms of the automotive applications. 5 or 10 years ago, the processors were widely distributed in the car and there could be over 100 different ECUs — and each one will have their own software stack and deliverables. But we see that based on the applications, like ADAS, all these new features like automatic emergency braking, and in the future autonomous driving, that is driving up the performance requirements. Whereas 10 years ago, those distributed ECU processors were running maybe in 300 megahertz, in 16 bit or 32 bit processors, now they are driven from the applications, and much higher performance. We are now seeing multiple 64 bit processors. Applications like vision processing for emergency braking, radar and LiDAR processing, is requiring significantly higher complexity and performance.”

In essence, the impact on the IP ecosystem has been very significant in terms of automotive. The chips are much more complex now, much more higher performance, there is much more integration of multimedia requirements and things like very high performance and high density external memories like LPDDR-4 and very soon LPDDR-5. These are IP blocks that are used on these complex chips that weren’t there 5 or 10 years ago. So due to the complexity and from an application, there is a lot of integration of these applications, he continued.

Further, there are integrated domains in the car which are driving up the integration of these applications. As a result, the IP, the IP ecosystem has to be much more higher performance since they’re going into integrated ADAS, systems safety, etc., and have to be developed according to that automotive quality management with traceability and design failure mode analysis as well as all of the automotive reliability, which are necessary, regardless of any application in automotive. “They have to last for 10 to 15 years in the field and that makes the requirement then to be much more robust than say commercial IP suppliers that provide IP to consumer or smart phones. There’s a big learning curve for those guys to ramp up to the robust automotive deliverables, and the automotive safety, and the complexity of these new centralized domain controllers for the integrated applications,” DiGiuseppe added.


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