NEC Creates Microcomputer, OS Platform for Automotive Information System

NEC Corporation and NEC Electronics Corporation have completed development of prototypes for a system LSI chip and operating systems (OS) that will serve as the platform for next-generation automotive information systems. The system LSI chip and OS were developed in collaboration with Toyota Motor Corp., Aishin AW Co., Ltd., and Denso Corp., and capitalizes on synergies between NEC’s software expertise and NEC Electronics’ device technologies.

NEC will continue to collaborate with these three companies to implement the platform in Toyota vehicles equipped with multimedia information systems from 2010 onward. Furthermore, the NEC Group will encourage other automotive manufacturers and IT companies to adopt the platform with the goal of establishing the industry standard for automotive information systems.

NEC and NEC Electronics’ platform provides two key elements for future automotive information systems such as car navigation, audio, and telematics (*1) – improved communication between people, society, and vehicles, and interfacing with external units that handle video, music, communications, and other functions – enabling timely responses to a wide range of user needs.

On this platform, the system LSI chip will be joined with the “control system OS” that governs vehicle control and body-related systems in real-time, as well as the “information system OS” that governs car navigation, audio systems, and communications, etc. These interactions will make it possible to easily provide rich user interfaces, as well as new functions such as vehicle control using digital maps, or road information and remote failure diagnosis services based on sensing and logging of vehicle conditions.

This new system LSI chip and OS (ref. Fig. 1) utilizes a uniform architecture that helps shorten system development periods, facilitates efficient use of development resources, and enables ease of configuration and modification.

Fig. 1: Configuration of Next-generation Onboard Information System Platforms
Configuration of Next-generation Onboard Information System Platforms

An explanation of the next-generation system LSI chip and OS is below.

1. Next-generation system LSI chip
Based on the ARM11(TM) MPCore(TM) (*2) symmetrical multicore processor developed jointly by ARM Ltd. and the NEC Group, the new system LSI chip’s uniform architecture enables easy configuration of additional and peripheral functions, including an advanced parallel processor array (IMAP (*3)) optimized for image recognition, as well as standard I/O units such as PCI Express to support high-speed data exchange, and automotive functions such as display controllers and global positioning systems (GPS).

This chip was developed by NEC Electronics using DFT (*4) technologies for enhanced reliability of automotive applications, and cutting-edge 55-nanometer silicon technologies.

2. Next-generation “Information System OS” and “Collaboration OS”
The next-generation automotive information system platforms will be comprised of two types of operating systems installed in parallel on a multicore processor: a control system OS for vehicle control, and an information system OS to accommodate expansions in new services.

The information system OS, which governs functions such as car navigation, audio, and external information links, adopts standard application programming interfaces (APIs), making it easy to develop new applications in keeping with the evolution of information technologies, and at the same time enabling easier configurations when external applications are incorporated.

The platform also provides a new “collaboration OS” that enables interactive communications between the control system OS and the information system OS, while ensuring a high level of system security. This collaboration OS was created by NEC based on an OS development concept that was the result of joint research between Toyota and Nagoya University.

In the future, electronics, IT, and network technologies will play a vital role in improving automotive comfort, safety, and environmental protection. Accordingly, the processors and software that form the backbone of such technologies will become increasingly important.

The NEC Group will continue to participate in the development of next-generation automotive information system platforms, to contribute to further improvements in automotive safety and enjoyment.

(*1) Telematics: A concept combining “telecommunications” and “infomatics”
(*2) ARM11 and MPCore are trademarks of ARM Limited
(*3) IMAP (Integrated Memory Array Processor): An advanced parallel processor array developed by NEC
(*4) DFT (Design For Testability): A design method that incorporates increased testability

About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation is one of the world’s leading providers of Internet, broadband network and enterprise business solutions dedicated to meeting the specialized needs of its diverse and global base of customers. NEC delivers tailored solutions in the key fields of computer, networking and electron devices, by integrating its technical strengths in IT and Networks, and by providing advanced semiconductor solutions through NEC Electronics Corporation. The NEC Group employs more than 150,000 people worldwide.

About NEC Electronics
NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) specializes in semiconductor products encompassing advanced technology solutions for the high-end computing and broadband networking markets, system solutions for the mobile handset, PC peripherals, automotive and digital consumer markets, and platform solutions for a wide range of customer applications. NEC Electronics Corporation has 25 subsidiaries worldwide including NEC Electronics America, Inc. and NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH.