Freescale Steers Auto Industry Closer to the First Crash-Less Car

Establishing a new safety paradigm, automotive silicon pioneer unveils S32V vision processor featuring sensor fusion capabilities

Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE:FSL) today introduced the groundbreaking S32V vision microprocessor – the first automotive vision system-on-chip (SoC) with the requisite reliability, safety and security measures to automate and ‘co-pilot’ a self-aware car.

Leveraging a host of automotive-grade technologies, the S32V takes the industry beyond the current, convenience-centric “assist” paradigm and toward an era where cars can capture data, process it and actually share control with drivers in critical situations. This capability establishes the essential bridge from the current “assist” era toward the fully autonomous vehicles of tomorrow.

Part of Freescale’s SafeAssure functional safety program, the S32V microprocessor is structurally designed to comply with stringent ISO 26262 functional safety standards, and engineered for automotive-grade quality metrics measured in parts per billion. This reliability, together with the exceptional performance/power ratios of integrated second-generation CogniVue APEX Image Cognition Processing technology, additionally supports the fusion of vision data captured by the S32V device with multiple other data streams, including radar, LiDAR and ultrasonic information to enable optimal resolution and image recognition accuracy.

“The next step in the evolution of self-driving cars will rely on automated systems that accurately process information, make decisions and take the requisite actions,” said Luca De Ambroggi, Principal Analyst, Automotive Semiconductors for analyst firm IHS. “This requires the highest levels of reliability, which are rarely present in consumer-grade silicon. The essential requirement for fail-safe reliability cannot be achieved using consumer-grade silicon without significant costs in system power or form factor.”

The Zero-Defect Mentality

The S32V leverages Freescale’s decades-long track record of delivering ultra-reliable processors to the quality driven automotive market. The microprocessor’s unmatched safety stems from structural, automotive-grade technologies and techniques that assure optimal reliability. Redundant signal paths, software error checking functionality, hardware fault detection and hard partitioning of on-chip processing domains allow the system to safely shut down and perform a controlled reboot without compromising braking or steering.

The S32V also features secure boot, network-grade crypto engines, secure keys, and support for secure hardware extension specifications published by many of the world’s top automakers. With this unparalleled level of security, the S32V helps protect against theft of software algorithms and other IP, while enhancing overall vehicle safety by helping to prevent external attacks and unauthorized access to vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Discrete encryption domains provide an added layer of protection within the car’s network. If a hacker gains access to one node of the car’s system, they cannot access other nodes; hence attacks are effectively isolated and quarantined.

“Many automotive vision systems available today are based on consumer-oriented silicon solutions originally designed to enhance gaming graphics or run smartphone apps. But in a new era where cars will serve as trusted co-pilots, utilizing consumer-oriented silicon is fundamentally unwise,” said Bob Conrad, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Automotive MCUs for Freescale. “Relying on anything less than automotive-grade silicon to take control of a vehicle and make critical driving decisions is simply not acceptable – not for me, not for my family and not for my customers.”

Technical Details and Ecosystem Support

The S32V vision microprocessor integrates robust hardware including high-performance CogniVue APEX-642 core image processing technology, as well as four ARM® Cortex®-A53 cores.

The S32V’s sophisticated software platform includes Green Hills Software’s INTEGRITY® – a safety-certified, real-time operating system (RTOS) including a powerful set of ISO 26262, ASIL-D certified development tools with highly optimized target solutions. The platform also includes Neusoft Corporation’s advanced, real-time object recognition algorithms to seamlessly detect partial objects, allowing the S32V to interpret and distinguish between road hazards and pedestrian risk.

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