MADISON, Wis. — ARM has unveiled its new microprocessor architecture specifically designed to run deterministic, real-time embedded applications in automotive electronics and other industrial control systems.
One of the highlights of the new architecture -- dubbed ARMv8-R -- is a hardware-assisted virtualization mode designed into its real-time embedded processor. EE Times has learned that Nvidia is likely to be among the first companies to license the ARMv8-R architecture.
Described by ARM as a "bare-metal" hypervisor mode, the new architecture's virtualization feature is in big demand among real-time embedded system designers saddled with the "increasingly sticky problem of combining different software with safety-critical applications," says Richard York, director of product marketing at ARM. The need to run different operating systems, applications, and real-time tasks on a single processor is paramount. Yet system designers are asked to do so by ensuring they are strictly isolated from one another.
Automotive customers -- carmakers and Tier 1s included -- are particularly eager for the virtualization feature, according to York.
The ARMv8-R architecture is designed to run rich OSs (such as Android for a graphical user interface) and real-time operating systems on the same processor. It is also designed to allow both virtual memory and protected memory systems to coexist on one processor.
ARMv8-R architecture enables a "rich" OS with memory management.
Kevin Krewell, senior analyst at the Linley Group, summed it up: "A system designer can consolidate multiple real-time microcontroller functions into one ARMv8-R-based processor without losing real-time responsiveness and process isolation."
Those looking to play a bigger role in the automotive market are paying close attention to ARM's new microprocessor architecture. Asked about ARMv8-R, Nvidia told EE Times in a separate interview:
Nvidia is investing heavily in the development of hypervisor solutions for a number of markets, including automotive. Based on the ARM architecture, Nvidia automotive solutions will be able to run multiple operating systems on a single processor to enable simultaneous use of both infotainment applications and more safety-critical functions.
Why hypervisor for automotive?
A big change in the automotive landscape in recent years is that more and more features in new cars are defined in software and electronics, rather than mechanical systems. As a result, "more and more car OEMs have begun writing their own software codes," explained York. Carmakers, seeking a little bit more control over their own cars, are coming up with clever new features through their own software.