The challenge

Since the advent of the semiconductor, the industry has been all about making electronics faster and more powerful. While that process is ongoing, the focus today days is on making things smarter and more efficient, and nowhere is that truer than in automotive.

As the industry moves towards electric drivetrains, electronics are playing an ever-increasing role in the car. Just as the phone has evolved into a supercomputer in your pocket, your next car is going to be a supercomputer on wheels. At the start of this decade perhaps 30% of the cost of the car was electronics but by 2030, it will be half the car.

The requirement for safety in a car is addressed by ISO 26262, the automotive safety standard, and a new addition to this, known as Part 11, addresses IP suppliers. To that end, Imagination created and launched PowerVR Automotive in November 2019. A new initiative that makes it easier for System on Chip (SoC) manufacturers to achieve the various Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASIL) that are classified in ISO 26262.

Enabling the vision

While achieving safety certification might be daunting for some IP suppliers, meeting the demands of the automotive space is nothing new for Imagination. PowerVR has a long history in automotive. Over the past decade, it has supplied GPU technology to automotive companies such as DENSO, Renesas, Socionext, Texas Instruments and others. To date these companies have shipped tens-of-millions of devices, giving Imagination a market share by volume of over 50% for automotive application processors.

Imagination’s vision is to enable this next-generation of car: think multiple, high-resolution displays sporting graphically rich interfaces, providing information at a glance for vital systems such as the cluster, navigation and infotainment. Its GPU and neural network accelerators will also be under the hood, providing the compute to drive the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and eventually to full autonomy.

Each of these will require ever greater levels of performance. While a car on the road today might use a 1K display for the cluster, this will move to 4K and beyond in the next few years. Compute on GPU and dedicated neural network accelerators will move from 10 GFLOPS and 10 TOPS now to over 100 and 500 respectively.

Introducing PowerVR Automotive

What’s important to understand is that PowerVR Automotive is not one thing: it’s a collection of parts that come together to create a complete product package. The comprehensive automotive package extends the application of PowerVR’s quality-managed IP to automotive solutions. It consists of five essential elements: hardware IP (PowerVR Series8XT-A and PowerVR Series2NX), software, tools, documentation and long-term support. Each of these is critical to enable customers create SoC that more easily meet the entire automotive experience, including ISO 26262, the standard for functional safety.

The PowerVR Automotive package reduces the barrier to entry for new players to the market, while easing the burden of meeting safety requirement for established companies.

Imagination is introducing the PowerVR Series8XT-A GPU core to complement its existing IP already used extensively in infotainment, digital cockpit and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). PowerVR Series8XT-A has enhanced recovery and reliability features to make it easier for SoC designers to obtain automotive safety certification for their SoCs aimed at digital human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and autonomous vehicles (AVs)

Dr. Ron Black, CEO, Imagination Technologies, says: ‘The automotive industry is rapidly transitioning to assisted driving and fully autonomous vehicles. PowerVR has extensive experience in the automotive semiconductor market and as the requirements for power and performance continue to evolve, PowerVR is committed to remaining ahead of the curve. Imagination is excited to deliver this package that allows the growing group of automotive players to address the complex requirements of this market.’

Introducing PowerVR Series8XT-A GPU

Based on the PowerVR Furian architecture, the Series8XT-A is a new member of the Series8XT family of GPUs targeted at cluster, HUD, infotainment and the digital cockpit, as well as ADAS functions. The Series8XT-A provides class-leading power, performance and area (PPA) metrics and enables new features in hardware and software for fault detection and recovery of the GPU. Other new features include Error-Correcting Code (ECC), Logic Built-in Self-test (LBIST), as well as industry-leading verification strategies.

Featuring unique built-in hardware virtualization, Series8XT-A enables automotive OEMs to keep multiple applications and services running securely in isolated containers, with guaranteed quality of service (QoS) for each.

PowerVR Neural Network Accelerators (NNA) for Automotive

Neural networks are becoming a fundamental element in the development of automotive; from the occupant’s experience, through to ADAS and autonomous driving.

The multi award-winning PowerVR Series2NX NNA is showcased through ADAS applications such as driver monitoring, driver gaze tracking, seat occupancy, road-sign detection, drivable path analysis, road user detection and driver recognition. Thanks to its performance density for embedded environments, PowerVR’s NNA technology will play a key role in enabling the industry to move from Level 3 to Level 5 autonomous driving.

Imagination’s ability to combine leading-edge GPU and NNA technology provides the industry with significant flexibility for creating automotive solutions, while at the same time as reducing risk, by future-proofing for industry evolution over the life of a product.

What the industry says…

Dominique Bonte, vice president, vertical markets, ABI Research; says: ‘The speed of progress in automotive is finally approaching that of Imagination’s traditional markets, such as mobile. Imagination’s dedicated PowerVR Automotive suite will allow automotive semiconductor vendors to accelerate time to market in terms of supporting automotive requirements like functional safety, virtualization, and power optimization through a turnkey solution.’


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