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Posts Tagged ‘automotive’

Imagination PowerVR Series8XT GT8540 GPU Can Drive up to Six 4K Screens, Supports Hardware Virtualization

January 26th, 2018 2 comments

Imagination Technologies introduces PowerVR Furian architecture last year with improved performance, power and density, as well as dual cluster PowerVR Series8XT GT8525 GPU based on the new architecture, and targeting high-end smartphones, virtual reality and automotive products.

The company has now introduced a quad cluster Furian GPU called PowerVR Series8XT GT8540 that can simultaneously drive up to six 4K screens at 60fps thanks to an 80% fillrate density improvement, and supports virtualization providing separation of services and applications.

GT8540 Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The new GPU mostly targets the automotive market with some new cars now requiring multiple screen support with high resolution displays for cluster, Head-Up Display (HUD) and infotainment.

Hardware virtualization is equally important for automotive application, as you’ll want to separate safety-critical code, from infotainment applications for example, so if the latter crashes, the safety-critical code can still run unhindered. Each would run on separate shaders processing unit, with up to 8 different  operating systems running in their own protected space:

The Series8XT GT8540 can support long-running compute workloads on a single Shader Processing Unit (SPU) for ADAS functions such as lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, and surround view, amongst others. Other tasks, such as infotainment and cluster, can run on the second SPU, using prioritizing mechanisms to reach system performance targets.

The video below illustrates the principle with the always running dashboard, with a navigation app crashing and rebooting in a separate display. The GPU can also prioritize resources for one of the display.

This type of process separation is not new though, as we previously covered a dual display automotive demo on NXP i.MX 6 using Mentor Embedded Hypervisor in 2013, but the Furian GPUs can support hardware virtualization so overhead should be lower.

The PowerVR Series 8XT GT8540 GPU is ready for licensing, and GT8525 GPU announced last year is already used by automotive and mobile customers. More details can be found in PowerVR Series 8XT product page.

NVIDIA Xavier AI SoC Now Sampling, DRIVE IX & DRIVE AR SDKs Announced

January 8th, 2018 1 comment

Well over a year ago, NVIDIA introduced Xavier, their next generation self-driving and artificial intelligence processor, with eight custom ARM cores, a 512-core Volta GPU, and support for 8K video encoding and decode. A few months ago, the company provided some more details and unveiled NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus A.I. computer for level 5 autonomous driving with two Xavier processors and two NVIDIA next-generation GPUs delivering a total 320 TOPS of computing power. For that it’s worth, 320 TOPS is about 3200 times more powerful than Intel Movidus Neural Network Compute Stick.

CES 2018 has now started, and NVIDIA made several announcement related to gaming and automotive markets, and confirmed Xavier is now sampling to select customers.

Click to Enlarge

What’s really new from the announcement is the addition of two new SDKs (software development kits) for the processor beside the original NVIDIA DRIVE AV autonomous vehicle platform:

  • DRIVE IX – Intelligent experience software development kit that will enable AI assistants for both drivers and passengers using sensors inside and outside the car.
  • DRIVE AR – Augmented Reality SDK designed for interfaces that deliver information points of interest along a drive, create alerts and navigate safely and easily.

This type of powerful hardware and software is however reserved to automotive customers, so most of us won’t be able to get hold of such platform, but we may end up being users of the technology soon enough, as NVIDIA announced partnerships with Volkswagen, Uber, ZF tier-one automotive supplier working with Baidu, and Aurora, a US startup designing and building self-driving technology.

Renesas R-Car M3 Starter Kit is Designed for ADAS Applications

December 22nd, 2017 No comments

Most boards targeting the automotive market are impossible to purchase by individual, so last year I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Renesas R-Car M2 Porter Linux automotive infotainment development board was available for sale on Digikey, and had good documentation on eLinux.org.

The company has now introduced another automotive board, namely R-Car V3M starter kit, that’s not designed for infotainment, but instead for ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) or even AD (Automated Driving) applications. Specifically, the board is supposed to “accelerate the development of New Car Assessment program (NCAP), front camera applications, surround view systems, and lidars” leveraging the company’s R-Car V3M image recognition SoC.

Click to Enlarge

Renesas R-Car V3M starter kit (V3MSK) specifications:

  • SoC – Renesas R-Car V3M processor with two Cortex A53 64-bit cores @ up to 800 MHz, a dual lockstep Cortex-R7 32-bit core @ up to 800 MHz, IMP-X5-V3M image recognition engine
  • System Memory – 448KB RAM on-chip; 2GB (6.4 GBytes/s) DDR3L-1600, 32-bit wide
  • Storage
    • 64MB bootable HyperFlash @ 160 MHz (320MB/s)
    • 64MB bootable QSPI Flash @ 80 MHz (80 MBytes/s)
    • 32 GB eMMC flash (HS200)
  • Video out – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p60 (via LVDS to HDMI chip), no audio
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • Debugging
    • 1x mini USB type B via FT232 USB to UART bridge
    • JTAG debug – 20-pin (2.54mm) ARM_EML (“Lauterbach”)
    • JTAG trace – ETM-A53-16K/R7-4K
    • Parallel trace – On-board connector for LVDS pod (shared with LVDS)
  • 440-pin COM Express interface exposing the following signals:
    • Storage – bootable parallel SRAM/ROM
    • Display – RGB888, 1-ch LVDS (shared with trace & HDMI)
    • Video in  – 1-ch 4-lane MIPI-CSI2, 2x RGB/YPbPr/Raw
    • Serial – Up 3x  SCIF , up to 4x HSCIF (High Speed Serial Communication Interface)
    • Up to 3x MSIOF (SPI/I2S)
    • Up to 2x CAN-FD [email protected] 8Mbps
    • Up to 5x I2C @ 400kHz, master/slave
    • DigRF
    • Up to 5x PWM
    • 8-ch ADC, 12-bit
    • GPIOs – 14x GPIOs by default, up to 105x GPIOs (shared)
    • NMI, IRQ interrupt on GPIOs
  • Misc – 3x user LEDs; 4x DIP-switches at GPIOs; 8x DIP-switches at CPLD; reset button & LED
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A input;  PMIC for all required voltages
  • Dimensions – 95x95mm (equivalent to COM Express type 6)

Beside the board itself , the kit includes a 5V/3A power supply, an HDMI-USB? cable, a mini USB cable, and an Ethernet cable. The board is supported by a Yocto Project built Linux BSP available on eLinux.org together with WiP documentation. Other commercial operating systems will be made available in 2018 and beyond. The platform is also supported by Renesas’ open-source e2 studio IDE, and is part of the Renesas autonomy Platform that “delivers end-to-end solutions for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving”.

V3MSK Board Connected to Expansion Board and One Camera – Click to Enlarge

The eLinux page also reveals an expansion board by Cogent Embedded that connected to V3MSK’s COM Express connector and gives access to up to 4 cameras via Fakra connectors.

There’s no information about pricing or availability, but I’d expect the board to eventually sell on Digikey with the other R-Car Starter Kits. More details, including the hardware manual, can be found on the product page on Renesas website.

Prologium Lithium Ceramic Solid State Batteries Don’t Catch Fire, Nor Explode

November 23rd, 2017 3 comments

You must have read articles or watch videos showing laptop or smartphone battery explode, and Lithium-ion batteries are considered hazardous enough that they are banned from airplane without the proper paper work. Such batteries can catch fire or even exploded when overcharged, or physically damaged. We have protection circuits for the former, and physical damage seldom happens, so in most cases the batteries are safe, and that’s why they are still used in laptops and phones.

However, if you need maximum safety, Lithium ceramic battery (LCB) may be the way to go. Those are still Lithium-ion battery cells, but they replace the liquid polymer separator found in Li polymer battery (LPB) by a solid-state ceramic electrolyte, and you can mistreat them almost as much as you like with overcharge, cut them, bend them, and they won’t catch fire, nor explode.

One company that makes such batteries is Taiwan based Prologium Technology, and they explain:

…there is no leakage and no flammable material inside, no shortage will happen under the normal usage, physical impact tests, or electrical damage tests, either. The Solid-state Ceramic Electrolyte also has good thermal stability includes 200~260°C for 3~10 seconds. There is no thermal runaway at 350°C or salting out at low temp. It never melt as well (LPB will melt around 120~150°C). Therefore, even it’s damaged by folding, hitting, penetrating, heating (250°C, 5hrs), LCB doesn’t fire nor explode.

Their batteries were tested by what looks like an independent reviewer (If you know his name, or YouTube account, let us know in the comments section), who really mistreated the battery, and they never caught fire, while LiPo batteries could easily catch fire when destroyed.

The video was shot in 2015, so if LC batteries only had positive, they’ll be in many products by now. I’m assuming price might be the issue, the company also mentions that “the biggest natural difficulties of solid-state Li Battery are poor C-rate, and high inner resistance”, but they claim to have made improvements with the “best C-rate and lowest inner resistance than any other solid-state battery in the world”.

I had also heard about solid state batteries recently while listening to a financial podcast about TESLA and electric cars, which made the case that current Lithium batteries may be obsolete soon, as Toyota had developed solid-state batteries with higher battery density allowing for longer range or smaller batteries, and fast charging capabilities (~5 minutes for a car battery). If the chart above is to be trusted, all solid state battery should eventually have two to three times the battery density of current Lithium Ion batteries. We’ll have to see how it goes, as I’ve seen many over-hyped battery technology over the year, and the vast majority miserably fail, ending as money pits for investors… Other companies are also working on solid-state battery technology, so I’m hopeful at least some will get it right. It’s not only for cars, as there are reports Samsung will use solid state batteries in phones in 2019.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip

NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus Platform is Designed for Fully Autonomous Vehicles

October 11th, 2017 1 comment

Many companies are now involved in the quest to develop self-driving cars, and getting there step by step with 6 levels of autonomous driving defined based on info from  Wikipedia:

  • Level 0 – Automated system issues warnings but has no vehicle control.
  • Level 1 (”hands on”) – Driver and automated system shares control over the vehicle. Examples include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Parking Assistance, and Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) Type II.
  • Level 2 (”hands off”) – The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering), but the driver is still expected to monitor the driving, and be prepared to immediately intervene at any time. You’ll actually have your hands on the steering wheel, just in case…
  • Level 3 (”eyes off”) – The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The system may ask the driver to take over in some situations specified by the manufacturer such as traffic jams. So no sleeping while driving 🙂 . The Audi A8 Luxury Sedan was the first commercial car to claim to be able to do level 3 self driving.
  • Level 4 (”mind off”) – Similar to level 3, but no driver attention is ever required. You could sleep while the car is driving, or even send the car somewhere without your being in the driver seat. There’s a limitation at this level, as self-driving mode is limited to certain areas, or special circumstances. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely park the car, if the driver does not retake control.
  • Level 5 (”steering wheel optional”) – Fully autonomous car with no human intervention required, no other limitations

So the goal is obviously to reach level 5, which would allow robotaxis, or safely drive you home whatever your alcohol or THC blood levels. This however requires lots of redundant (for safety) computing power, and current autonomous vehicle prototypes have a trunk full of computing equipments.

NVIDIA has condensed the A.I processing power required  or level 5 autonomous driving into DRIVE PX Pegasus AI computer that’s roughly the size of a license plate, and capable of handling inputs from high-resolution 360-degree surround cameras and lidars, localizing the vehicle within centimeter accuracy, tracking vehicles and people around the car, and planning a safe and comfortable path to the destination.

The computer comes with four A.I processors said to be delivering 320 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of computing power, ten times faster than NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, or about the performance of a 100-server data center according to Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder and CEO. Specifically, the board combines two NVIDIA Xavier SoCs and two “next generation” GPUs with hardware accelerated deep learning and computer vision algorithms. Pegasus is designed for ASIL D certification with automotive inputs/outputs, including CAN bus, Flexray, 16 dedicated high-speed sensor inputs for camera, radar, lidar and ultrasonics, plus multiple 10Gbit Ethernet

Machine learning works in two steps with training on the most powerful hardware you can find, and inferencing done on cheaper hardware, and for autonomous driving, data scientists train their deep neural networks NVIDIA DGX-1 AI supercomputer, for example being able to simulate driving 300,000 miles in five hours by harnessing 8 NVIDIA DGX systems. Once trained is completed, the models can be updated over the air to NVIDIA DRIVE PX platforms where inferencing takes place. The process can be repeated regularly so that the system is always up to date.

NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus will be available to NVIDIA automotive partners in H2 2018, together with NVIDIA DRIVE IX (intelligent experience) SDK, meaning level 5 autonomous driving cars, taxis and trucks based on the solution could become available in a few years.

Linaro Connect SF 2017 Welcome Keynote – New Members, Achievements, the Future of Open Source, and More…

September 26th, 2017 No comments

Linaro Connect San Francisco 2017 is now taking place until September 29, and it all started yesterday with the Welcome Keynote by George Grey, Linaro CEO discussing the various achievements since the last Linaro Connect in Budapest, and providing an insight to the future work to be done by the organization.

The video is available on YouTube (embedded below), and since I watched it, I’ll provide a summary of what was discussed:

  • Welcoming New Members – Kylin (China developed FreeBSD operating systems) joined LEG (Enterprise Group), NXP added LHG (Home Group) membership, and Xilinx joined LITE (IoT and Embedded).
  • Achievements
    • OPTEE open portable trusted environment execution more commonly integrated into products. Details at optee.org.
    • LEG 17.08 ERP release based on Linux 4.12, Debian 8.9 with UEFI, ACPI, DPDK, Bigtop, Hadoop, etc…
    • LITE group has been involved in Zephyr 1.9 release, notably contributing to LwM2M stack
    • More projects to be found on download page.
  • Open source future with many fields involved including artificial intelligence, security, automotive, automation, etc.
    • Security requires software/hardware combination, and with a single global standard such as OPTEE desirable
    • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
      • Trend is to move out of the CPU to off-load tasks to GPU, FPGA, or NNA (Neural Network Accelerators)
      • Not single API, for example TensorFlow supports CPU and NVIVIA CUDA, using other platforms require heavy customization
      • Linaro to work abstraction layer/ common API for machine learning
      • A.I will bring many benefits, but also potential dangers/issues: privacy, military use, etc… Development in the open is better.
    • Automotive
      • Currently Intel and NVIDIA provides ADAS / autonomous driving platform, both closed sources
      • More open platform needed, maybe a 96Boards Automotive platform with 6x cameras, GPS, touch screen display, processing power good enough for ADAS and IVI (In Vehicle-Entertainment)
      • Linux now mostly handles non-safety critical code, will change in the future. Containers will help.
      • Currently working on proof-of-concept with StreetDrone One autonomous driving development platform, DragonBoard 410c and Gumstix AeroCore 2 mezzanine. More details, maybe demo, at next Linaro Connect
  • 96Boards
    • Recently (and soon to be) announced – Hikey 960, Orange Pi i96, Uranus (WiFi board based on TI CC3220, to run Zephyr OS)
    • Mezzanine boards – NeonKey with sensors and LEDs, Secure96 with crypto chips & TPM (used to play with OPTEE)
  • ARM Platforms for developers – Three types:
  • Microplatforms
    • Definition – open source, minimal, secure, OTA upgradeable distributions
    • Cortex M platforms will use Zephyr OS, Cortex A support will be based on OpenEmbedded with a unified multi-SoC kernel
    • Currently tested on Hikey, DragonBoard 410c, and Raspberry Pi 3, more platforms to be supported in the future
    • Demos with 6x Carbon + Nitrogen board with BLE running Zephyr OS, Raspberry Pi 3 IoT gateway:
      • 1. Use Linaro Developer Cloud (running LED Enterprise Reference Platform) + Hawkbit dash to monitor temperature sensors on the board
      • 2. Switch Raspberry Pi 3 gateway to use Softbank cloud using Alibaba infrastructure on-the-fly, and control lights from Japan severs.
      • The two demos above shows how a multi-standard automation gateway could be implemented solving the problem of incompatibility of devices from different manufacturers
      • BLE mesh demo with six board controlling lights
      • Source code for demos can be found on Github
    • Going forwards downstream microplatforms will be developed by a separate entity: Open Source Foundries, unrelated to Linaro which will keep on focusing on upstream work
  • Linaro also launched the Associate Program for OEMs, ODMs, service providers, startups, and university who want to join Linaro. No details were provided, only an email address [email protected]

You’ll also find the presentation slides on Slideshare.

Mictrack MT600 4G GPS Tracker Supports Traccar, OpenGTS, and Other GPS Tracking Platforms

September 19th, 2017 2 comments

Cellular GPS trackers have been around for a few years, but so far mostly 2G or 3G GPS trackers with products like Ping, Particle Asset tracker, and many other models selling on Aliexpress. 4G GPS tracker have been less common. However, recently we’ve seen platforms like Wio LTE and AutoPi that could handle GPS tracking over LTE connectivity, and another alternative would be Mictrack MT600 that ready-to-use solution to track your car or other vehicle with GPS and 4G.

Mictrack MT600 hardware specifications:

  • GNSS
    • U-BLOX7 GPS Chip
    • GPS sensitivity -162dBm
    • Channel – 56
    • Positioning Accuracy – 10m
    • Cold start: 30s; warm start: 15s; hot start: 1s
    • SMA antenna connector
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • Qualcomm 4G LTE chip
    • MT600-A model (North America):
      • 4G FDD LTE: 700/850/1700/1900MHz
      • 3G UMTS: 850/1700/1900MHz
      • GSM: 850/1900MHz
    • MT600-C model (Asia):
      • 4G FDD LTE: 900/1800/2100MHz
      • 4G TDD LTE: 1900/2300/2500/2600MHz
      • 3G UMTS: 900/2100MHz
      • GSM: 900/1800MHz
    • MT600-E (Australia/Asia/Europe)
      • 4G FDD LTE: 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600MHz
      • 3G UMTS: 850/900/2100MHz
      • GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
    • MT600-J (Japan Only) – 4G FDD LTE: B1/ B3/ B8/ B18/ B19/ B26
    • MT600l-V (Verizon Only) – 4G FDD LTE: 700/1700MHz
    • MT600-AUT (Telstra Only)
      • 4G FDD LTE: 700/850//1800/2100/2600MHz
      • 4G UMTS: 850/2100MHz
    • SMA Antenna connector; SIM card slot
  • Sensors – 3-axis accelerometer sensor, temperature sensor
  • Misc – 4G, GPS and charging LEDs; micro USB port, microphone port, J2 “reserve” connector
  • Input voltage – DC 9V-36V via J1 connector
  • Battery – 700mAh/3.7V for backup
  • Power Consumption – 60mA standby current
  • Dimension – 90 x 70 x x 24 mm
  • Weight – 138g
  • Temperature Range –  -20°C to +70°C
  • Humidity – 5% to 95% non-condensing

MT600 GPS tracker ships with GPS and 4G antennas, a 6-pin power cable, and an SOS button by default, with an optional relay available. The 6-pin cable connected to the car’s battery, the SOS button, ACC (12V) power, and optional to the relay connected to the fuel pump. It’s unclear what the reserve connector, micro USB port, and headphone port are for, since they are not mentioned at all in the user manual, except for the diagram above.

6-pin cable connection diagram

It can be controlled / managed through SMS, computer programs, or Yi Tracker mobile app for Android or iOS which will allow you to monitor the real-time position of your car, trip history, alarms for SOS button, low car/backup battery level, towing, high temperature, speeding, and geo-fencing. The company also lists support for camera, door sensor, and fuel sensor but only for ODM partners, which might be the reason why J2 connector and micro USB port exist. The video below explains about the connections without actually showing how to connect it to an actual car, and shows to get started with the tracker using a mobile phone.

The manufacturer claims the “protocol is open” (but does not provide any details), and explains the device is also supported by various third party GPS platforms such as Gurtam, GPSGate, CoryUSGPS, Orange GPS,  OpenGTS and Traccar, with the last two being open source platforms.

Mictrack MT600 is sold on Aliexpress, often under other brands, for $108 shipped and higher. The company has also just released MT550 global 4G GPS tracker using LTE CAT M1/NB1. More info and products can be found on Mictrack website.

NXP RoadLink SAF5400 is a Single Chip Secure DSRC/802.11p V2X Platform

September 14th, 2017 No comments

Marvell unveiled 88W8987xA wireless SoC for V2X (Vehicle to Everything) applications supporting 802.11p WiFi, and DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) last June, but NXP has recently launched Roadlink SAF5400 which it claims to be the world’s first “automotive qualified, high-performance single-chip DSRC modem”

Key features for Roadlink SAF5400:

  • Compliant with IEEE 802.11p, IEEE 1609.4
  • Compliant with:
    • ETSI EN 302663 – Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS); Access layer specification for Intelligent Transport Systems operating in the 5 GHz frequency band
    • ETSI EN 302571 – Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS); Radiocommunications equipment operating in the 5 855 MHz to 5 925 MHz frequency band; Harmonized EN covering the essential requirements of article 3.2 of the R&TTE Directive
  • Compliant with ARIB T-109M – 700 MHz Band Intelligent Transport Systems
  • Single channel handling for 802.11p reception/transmission. Includes Channel Switching
  • Optional ECDSA verification: 2000 messages/sec (Brainpool/NIST curves 256 bits)
  • Qualified in accordance with AEC-Q100 grade 2
  • Host interface – SPI, R(G)MII Ethernet, or SDIO

The solution will be used for vehicle to vehicle communication as illustrated below, and potentially other nodes along the road.  Roadlink SAF5400 can be combined with NXP i.MX processor, and security can be achieved by software in the i.MX processor, or via a dedicated SXF1800 hardware secure element based in similar technology used in electronic passports, and banking cards.

Click to Enlarge

The solution will support all global V2X standards in US, EU, JPN and KOR, with sampling to lead customers starting in December 2017. Further details may be found in the product page and the press release.

Categories: NXP i.MX Tags: 802.11p, automotive, nxp, v2x