What technologies do Mobileye and Intel offer to autonomous driving? And what's the division of labor between Mobileye's EyeQ chip and Intel's yet-to-be-announced automotive SoC?
What looks like a growing relationship between Mobileye and Intel in the highly automated vehicle platforms can be alarming to those who compete in, or follow, the market.
Exhibit A is the strategic partnership between BMW, Mobileye and Intel. Exhibt B is Delphi's disclosure earlier this week that the company is using Intel’s chip on its autonomous driving platform, along with Mobileye’s vision SoC.
After all, Mobileye is already the dominant player in vision processing – a key technology ingredient for ADAS and autonomous cars.
Intel has yet to announce a new automotive SoC featuring multiple Xeon cores
, but the prevailing rule of thumb is never underestimate the power of the world’s largest processor company. Indeed, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced in his keynote at the LA Auto Show, just before Thanksgiving, a $250 million investment
aimed at making autonomous driving a reality.
When we posted our story, “Can Intel Win Auto Brain Chip Race?
,” the knee-jerk reaction from some readers was the accusation that journalists are conditioned to keep giving Intel the benefit of doubt, assuming that it will succeed in the non-PC market.
One of the most astute comments, however, came from Philippe Lambinet, a former ST Microelectronics executive, now CEO of Cogito Instruments
. Cogito Instruments is a company working to bring machine learning analytics to industrial applications.
Lambinet sees Mobileye’s true value in its dataset and algorithms. “They developed hardware because there was nothing around that could do the job but fundamentally hardware is not their core value. Intel, on the other side, is THE processor company,” he noted.
Calling the Mobileye-Intel combination “a great functional match,” Lambinet suggests that Intel could pursue building a “Wintel-like duopoly” in the automotive market, just as the processor giant did with Microsoft in the PC industry.
Although Lambinet doesn’t think Mobileye is eager to collude with Intel like the Wintel model of the past, this is an intriguing thought.
I decided to follow up.
Really, when we look closely at technologies offered by Mobileye and Intel in autonomous driving, what does each contribute? And what’s the division of labor between Mobileye’s EyeQ chip and Intel’s yet-to-be-announced automotive SoC?
I got in touch with Daniel Galves, Mobileye’s chief communications officer and senior vice president. Posing the example of the Delphi platform, I asked the question.
Galves told us, “To start, the division of labor is fairly simple. The Mobileye SoC will run all sensor processing software (8-camera surround view by Mobileye, radar/lidar processing by Delphi), localization mapping by Mobileye REM, and sensor fusion will run.”
He added, “On the Intel SoC, all driving policy (reinforcement learning algorithms for path strategy by Mobileye) and driving control (driving behavior software by Delphi’s Ottomatika) will run.”
Does this also mean that even EyeQ5 – whose engineering sample is slated for launch in 2018 – isn’t set up to run driving control software? Will EyeQ5 need a companion chip, like the one Intel is working on now?
Next page: Mobileye - ST Microelectronics