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Visteon to launch ECU-consolidating cockpit domain controller with European automaker in 2018

Addressing the proliferation of electronic control units (ECUs) in vehicles, Visteon Corporation is preparing to launch an industry-first, automotive-grade cockpit domain controller with a European automaker on a global vehicle program in 2018.

SmartCore combines previously separate instrument clusters, head-up displays (HUD) and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) domains on a one-chip, multi-domain controller that can be accessed through an integrated, easy-to-use human machine interaction (HMI). Visteon displayed the SmartCore connected domain controller at CES 2016.

With the average number of ECUs in high-end vehicles more than doubling over the past decade, it is essential to more efficiently manage the increasing cost and complexity of in-vehicle electronics. (Earlier post.) SmartCore provides a security-focused approach to cockpit module consolidation that addresses this complexity while improving the driving experience.

The SmartCore system uses Visteon-developed virtualization (MOSS.x, multiple operating system security) that allows a multicore SoC (system on chip) microprocessor to run many functions by splitting up the processor’s power for use by a variety of devices, explains Christopher Andrews, Visteon Leader, Emerging Technologies. Security is achieved by keeping the virtualization software code to a minimum and running multiple operating systems unmodified. This isolates safety-critical elements from non-critical elements and from the outside world.

Visteon

SmartCore also uses a component modeling software architecture that is written in modules. This allows the same basic code elements to be used for all levels of vehicle design, with additional blocks of code inserted for luxury vehicles. Previously, entirely separate and unique code—100 million+ lines— needed to be written for low-, mid- and high-end cars.

SmartCore is a game-changing technology that offers significant and unique advantages over traditionally separated and non-connected infotainment systems, instrument clusters and ADAS controllers. Different operating systems can run side-by-side on one core and several levels of information—from safety-critical vehicle data to personal information from the Cloud—are combined into one system for the first time. This significantly improves efficiency and security, while reducing the cost of ownership in the cockpit.

—Visteon President and CEO Sachin Lawande

Meeting the needs of all vehicle segments through a scalable and flexible framework, the SmartCore platform is offered at different levels in terms of information output technologies and types of software applications and control devices. At the lower end, the platform can feature an instrument cluster system or entry-level infotainment system only. At the higher end, it can incorporate several displays including infotainment, head-up and rear seat displays, and tablets.

At CES, Visteon demonstrated a high-end configuration, with two fully digital 12.3-inch color thin film transistor (TFT) displays and an additional head-up display, all driven from a single integrated unit. In addition, up to four tablets can be connected via Wi-Fi, serving as a rear-seat entertainment extension.

SmartCore’s Cloud-based connectivity is designed to protect the user’s privacy. The system incorporates mechanisms that guarantee a seamless handover from full Cloud support to fully embedded mode if there is no Cloud connection. If there is an issue—for example a malicious application consuming all processor power or a virus trying to stall the system—all system-relevant and safety-critical features are designed to remain operational. Consolidating ECUs also enhances security by reducing the number of potential “attack surfaces.”

As an application-based cockpit domain controller, SmartCore allows the user to change and grow the vehicle’s feature set over its entire lifetime. Users will be able to purchase applications (apps) via a vehicle manufacturer-certified app store on the platform. These apps are stored in an easily-accessible library, from which users can decide which apps are visible.

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