Automotive in-car applications are a fertile field for

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					Market Analysis             Automotive

      Vehicles Are Just
      Around the Corner
      Automotive in-car applications are a fertile field for
      programmable logic devices. FPGAs and CPLDs offer
      designers the ability to evolve with new and emerging
      automotive standards and protocols, giving manufacturers
      faster time-to-market and longer time-in-market.

                                                                 by Karen Parnell
                                                                 European Marketing Manager
                                                                 High Volume Products
                                                                 When we envisage automotive electronics,
                                                                 we automatically consider electric windows,
                                                                 central locking systems, climate control,
                                                                 and electronic ignition systems, all of which
                                                                 require stringent qualification, temperature
                                                                 cycling, and certification. However, the
                                                                 emerging automotive electronics market
                                                                 has shifted from under the hood (or bon-
                                                                 net) to in-cabin multimedia applications.
                                                                 The inexorable trend toward mobile offices,
                                                                 onboard entertainment, and real time infor-
                                                                 mation on the move means the market is
                                                                 wide open for complex programmable logic
                                                                 devices (CPLDs) and field programmable
                                                                 gate arrays (FPGAs).

      00          Xcell Journal                                                                    Fall/Winter 2001
                                                                                                                  Market Analysis              Automotive

Historically, the lead time from a
new vehicle conception to production
has been about five to six years. Now,
the shift is toward vehicle turnaround
times as short as two years. This shift is
forcing a phenomenal change in automo-
tive design practices and techniques.
Now, more than ever before, time to
market is critical.
It’s predicted that intelligent cars of the
next decade will be able to perform the
following functions:
• Provide a safe, informative, productive,
  and entertaining environment.
• Cruise intelligently by automatically
  keeping pace with the vehicle in front.
• Display their exact locations using satel-
  lite-based navigation.
                                                                        Figure 1 - Emerging in-car systems (source: Philips)
• Summon emergency services to the pre-
  cise location of a breakdown or accident
  with, or without, any driver action.         Overcoming the Design Challenges                     portable PCs, MP3 players, and other per-
                                                                                                    sonal portable electronic equipment to
• Illuminate long distances in the dark        Designers of the new wave in-car multime-
                                                                                                    provide a truly connected and functional
  with infrared and ultraviolet headlights.    dia systems must include traffic informa-
                                                                                                    in-car environment.
                                               tion systems, Internet/Web access, elec-
Figure 1 shows some of the emerging
                                               tronic game consoles, MPEG music down-               Some after-market, third-party manufac-
“semiconductor rich” products that will
                                               load capability, digital radio reception, and        turers have provided short-term solutions
become standard options available in vehi-
                                               mobile commerce services. These designers            to some of these problems by producing
cles over the next few years.
                                               must also have the flexibility to provide all        audio systems based around MP3 technol-
By utilizing the flexibility, time to market   or just a few of these functions.                    ogy. When in the cabin, the MP3 player is
advantage, and after-sale reconfigurability                                                         seated in the car audio system, but when
                                               Other challenges faced by the designers are:
of Xilinx devices and software, manufac-                                                            you leave the vehicle, you can take it with
turers can not only be first to market but     • Small physical space available to place            you as a portable MP3 player
remain best in class long after the sale.        devices in the dashboard or seat backs
                                                                                                    The New Way of Designing
The Automotive Multimedia Platform Concept     • Low cost units that can fit into more than
                                                                                                    As in-car and consumer functions con-
                                                 one model of car
As information and entertainment sys-                                                               verge – and new automotive and con-
tems are added to automobiles, we’re see-      • Aesthetically pleasing look and feel               sumer standards and protocols emerge –
ing the inevitable conflict of digital stan-                                                        manufacturers are starting to prototype
                                               • Ease of driver use
dards and protocols. A bewildering array                                                            multimedia platforms that can provide as
of emerging standards and protocols are        • Ability to upgrade the unit when auto-             much, or as little functionality, as
being tried and tested for use in the latest     motive standards and protocols change.             required. Such multimedia platforms can
in-car systems, including: Bluetooth™,         Designers must also ensure that the in-car           be best realized by designing with recon-
BlueCAN, MP3, Java™, AutoPC, AMIC              multimedia system can “talk” to other                figurable hardware. Ideally, the multime-
(Automotive Multimedia Interface               devices introduced into the cabin space.             dia platform should be based around one
Consortium with JINI interface), WAP           For example, if a mobile phone is brought            human-machine interface that allows all
(Wireless Application Protocol), HTML,         into the car environment, it should be               functions to be accessed via a menu-driv-
XML, MOST (Media Oriented System               automatically detected and able to com-              en touch screen.
Transport), FireWire, CAN (Controller          municate with the car’s communications               Reconfigurable hardware can be pro-
Area Network), TCP/IP, and more – but          network. This automatic connectivity                 grammed late in the production flow to
which one(s) will prevail?                     could also include connection of PDAs,               provide custom functionality on a standard
Fall/Winter 2001                                                                                                               Xcell Journal       00
Market Analysis             Automotive

      hardware platform – and can also be con-                   early stage, the different standards, proto-              date last-minute design changes or end-
      figured to accommodate the newest emerg-                   cols, and functions can be tried, tested, and             user preferences.
      ing in-car standards and protocols.                        debugged utilizing the headroom that a
                                                                                                                           Having a common platform cuts down on
                                                                 large FPGA gives.
      Figure 2 shows the automotive multimedia                                                                             inventory and takes advantage of the cost
      platform design approach. This concept                     As the design firms up, the specifications                savings associated with producing one plat-
      allows hardware upgrades throughout the                    are “chilled” or “frozen,” and in engineer-               form for all units. The benefits of using this
      lifetime of the car. These upgrades can be                 ing terms, the boards are “productionized.”               reconfigurable hardware-based multimedia
      implemented remotely by utilizing the wire-                In other words, the desired standard, pro-                platform approach are:
      less communications/Internet connectivity                  tocol, or function is chosen from the many
                                                                                                                           • Easier control of software and hardware
      provided by the unit. Xilinx terms this                    tested. This move from prototype board to
      remote hardware upgrading process Internet                 productionized printed circuit board
      Reconfigurable Logic                                                                                                                   • Re-use of components,
      (IRL™) via the Xilinx                                                                                                                    be they software or hard-
      Online program.                                                                                                                          ware (design re-use)
                                                          Multimedia Platform Design Approach
      The Xilinx Online pro-                                                                                                                 • Increase in the time
      gram is designed to                     Prototyping                         Production                   Application                     developers can spend
      enable, identify, and              • Architecture Choice              • Business Plan Oriented     • Product Derivatives                 on creating value as
      promote        network             • Components                       • Frozen Specification       • Cosmetics
                                                                                                                                               opposed to creating
      upgradable systems,                • Prototyping                      • Manufacturable             • Customization
                                                                                                                                               system interconnect
      hence “future proofing”                                                                                                                  structures
                                         • Technology Evaluation            • Design Customer Specific   • Look and Feel of Product
      a system and avoiding                                                   Services
                                         • Pretesting                                                    • Aesthetic Decisions               • Reduction of risk
      product obsolescence.                                                 • Printed Circuit Boards
                                         • Generic Software Services                                                                           through clearer under-
      These systems can be                                                  • Configuration
                                         • Changing Specifications                                                                             standing of the basic
      upgraded, modified, or               & Protocols                      • Mechanics                                                        components
      fixed long after they
      have been deployed in                                                                                                                  • Choice of standard or
      the field.                                                                                                                               protocol can be deferred
                                                                                                                                               and simply reconfigured
      While many designers
      have been building
      upgradable      devices                                                                                                                • Increased productivity
      based on Xilinx tech-                                                                                                                    through the application
      nology for years, the                      Figure 2 - Automotive multimedia platform design approach                                     of modern develop-
      explosion of networked                                                                                                                   ment tools
      devices has dramatically increased con-           (PCB) enables the design to be optimized                           • Increased openness of the system, sup-
      sumer demand for these user-configurable,         and fitted into a smaller, low cost FPGA,                            porting the use of standards and integra-
      adaptable products. For example, an engi-         such as a device from the Xilinx Spartan®-                           tion of third-party components.
      neer can use the existing wireless communi-       IIE family, while still leaving room for
      cations/Internet infrastructure to reprogram      future system upgradability. Once in pro-                          The Xilinx In-Car Multimedia Solution
      an in-car multimedia system to include            duction, the FPGA can be used to aid total                         We predict the heart of the reconfigurable
      extra functionality, such as adding an MP3        PCB testing using JTAG techniques. If                              multimedia platform will be a Xilinx pro-
      player or upgrading the system to take            necessary, designs can be ‘tweaked’ or                             grammable logic device. The common
      advantage of the latest protocol or standard.     enhanced at this stage.                                            platform approach enables one PCB to be
                                                                                                                           produced for all customers – with the only
      Multimedia System Design Flow Using FPGAs                  The final stage is the look and feel or aes-
                                                                                                                           change being to the style, shape, and color
                                                                 thetics of the product, which can be
      The new way of developing in-car systems                                                                             of the unit front panel to satisfy the need
                                                                 designed for each car manufacturer to fit
      is to prototype using FPGAs in a generic                                                                             for product differentiation.
                                                                 into their specific dashboard (or fascia).
      development environment. The elements                      All of the production multimedia units                    Xilinx is the leading provider of complete
      can then be developed quickly and easily                   are built up around the standard FPGA-                    and innovative programmable logic solu-
      without the need to fix specifications. This               based platform. This standard platform                    tions. Our products help minimize risks for
      initial prototyping phase can be realized                  can be programmed with its “personality”                  manufacturers of in-car electronic equip-
      using Virtex®-II Platform FPGAs. At this                   late in the production flow to accommo-                   ment by shortening the time required to

      00          Xcell Journal                                                                                                                              Fall/Winter 2001
                                                                                                                Market Analysis               Automotive

develop products and take them to market         So, should manufacturers make an educat-         Conclusion
– and keep them there long after the sale.       ed guess as to what standard will prevail and
                                                                                                  In the future, we expect programmable logic
You can design and verify your proprietary       produce at risk, or should they wait for the
                                                                                                  technology will play an even bigger role in
circuits in Xilinx CPLDs much faster than        standards to be fixed and get left behind?
                                                                                                  automotive applications. This will come as a
you possibly could by using traditional
                                                 With Xilinx CPLDs you can win the time           result of our ability to provide advanced fea-
methods, such as manufacturing ASICs
                                                 to market race at minimum risk by taking         tures, such as Internet Reconfigurable Logic.
(application specific integrated circuits) and
                                                 advantage of the capability to reconfigure       By using IRL, you can build in upgradabili-
ASSPs (application specific standard parts).
                                                 your products to accommodate almost any          ty and thus, reduce the risk of obsolescence.
Xilinx builds programmable integrated cir-       standard or protocol – now and in the
                                                                                                  For example, you could upgrade your car for
cuits, develops software, IP (intellectual       future. By using reconfigurable logic in pro-
                                                                                                  the weekend by paying for the engine man-
property) cores, and other tools to provide      duction, the units can be reconfigured in-
                                                                                                  agement system to be “race-tuned” to
complete solutions to our customers. We          car to produce new hardware-based fea-
                                                                                                  enhance the performance of your car. This
also provide world-class application sup-        tures, thus extending the life of the product.
                                                                                                  would give you the ability to purchase a “rac-
port and design services to customers
                                                 Xilinx high-volume FPGA and CPLD                 ing car” for the weekend in your standard
developing their own proprietary designs.
                                                 devices provide you with cost-effective          family vehicle. The engine management sys-
To “drive” the in-car digital convergence in     solutions that retain the traditional CPLD       tem would be reprogrammed via a wireless
the face of emerging standards and proto-        time to market advantage. Today, Xilinx          Internet connection to change the car’s per-
cols, Xilinx recommends the Spartan-IIE          programmable logic devices are employed          sonality. At the end of the pre-paid time peri-
FPGA family and the CoolRunner® and              by a large number of telematic and info-         od, your vehicle would be reprogrammed
9500XV CPLD families. The Xilinx                 tainment product manufacturers who rec-          back to its original settings. This is not just a
CPLD families are qualified to meet auto-        ognize the added flexibility and time to         dream about the future of the in-car envi-
motive temperature range parameters. The         market benefits achievable through the use       ronment but a realizable vision enabled by
Spartan-IIE FPGA family is based on the          of programmable logic solutions.                 reconfigurable logic.
very popular Virtex family. Spartan-IIE
extends the legacy of the Spartan series,
with more gates, better performance, and
enhanced features. The Spartan-IIE family               Car Driver Assistance and Active Safety
offers digital delay locked loops, program-
mable I/Os, on-chip block memory, and                   Car safety is one of the primary concerns in the automotive industry. Over
densities up to 300,000 system gates.                   the years, we have seen the addition of airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, side
These features and densities, coupled with              impact beams, and other structural enhancements. We are now seeing the
enhancements to software and an
                                                        emergence of driver assistance systems to augment the more “physical” safety
increased number of available IP cores,
                                                        enhancements such as forward collision warning and night vision.
provide a reduced time-to-market and
increased time-in-market at a much lower                The latest driver assistance enhancement is based around a video-process-
cost. Xilinx also has a range of IP cores               ing system located in the rear view mirror and dashboard of the vehicle.
such as memory controllers, system inter-
                                                        This system processes data from both inside and outside the car. It ana-
faces, DSP, communications, networking,
and microprocessors.                                    lyzes any perceived erratic vehicle movements, such as the car leaving the
                                                        lane if the driver has fallen asleep, and automatically corrects and brings
Looking Down the Road                                   the car to a gentle stop. The system also analyzes outside light levels com-
Consumers are demanding the comforts of                 pared to road conditions, such as curves, and adjusts the headlamp lumi-
home, the facilities of the office, and the             nosity and direction accordingly. This driver assistance system also meas-
state-of-the-art in information and safety              ures distance to the car in front, and if an accident is imminent, it will
systems in their cars.                                  ensure activation of the airbag and braking systems. The distance sensors
This digital product convergence scenario               can also aid when parking your vehicle. Xilinx FPGAs are ideal for imple-
requires that the latest interface standards            menting complex imaging and fast digital signal processing functions and
and protocols interconnect and interoper-               are already being used in driver assistance systems.
ate. These standards and protocols are still
emerging – and may get more complicated
before they are standardized.

Fall/Winter 2001                                                                                                              Xcell Journal       00

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