Asked about the company's game plan, Singh said that Qualcomm's strategy is to leverage a deeper level of integration in its automotive Snapdragon SoC to attack every car's in-vehicle infotainment system, "up to the mid-tier. That's where the sweet spot is."
Texas Instruments, Freescale, and NXP are also strong players in the automotive silicon market.
Singh pointed out, however, that although they are strong in the industrial automotive chip segment, all three chip suppliers have already fled the smartphone modem business. This leaves them vulnerable to new competition from Qualcomm, which can provide highly integrated in-vehicle infotainment SoCs that run on modern OSs and offer LTE modem, GPS, and WiFi integrated on the global platform, Singh asserted.
QNX and Android
Snapdragon Automotive Solutions offer "support for Android and QNX operating systems with automotive-specific optimizations and integrated application frameworks," according to Qualcomm. They will allow automakers to build connected infotainment systems compliant with automotive requirements for fast boot of critical services, the company promises.
Qualcomm is also cognizant of serving multiple screens installed inside a car and various consumer devices brought into a vehicle. Snapdragon Automotive Solutions offer dualmode support for 802.11, Miracast, and automotive Bluetooth profiles.
The company also boasted that its platform is "designed to interoperate with consumer devices from leading smartphone and tablet ecosystems to deliver the right blend of in-car integrated infotainment with brought-in experiences."
During the interview with EE Times, Qualcomm's Singh acknowledged that the company has been working on a variety of air interfaces around the car, including radar, WiFi, and IEEE 802.11p (also known as dedicated short-range communications). The combination of WiFi and 802.11p, he contends, will make a car more alert to objects in its immediate environment.
Preemptive move toward DSRC
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is yet to decide on the DSRC mandate for all cars in the United States. However, Qualcomm has already begun demonstrating to carmakers, showing that once every smartphone is embedded with WiFi and DSRC, cars will be safer because they can detect pedestrians carrying DSRC-enabled smartphones.
Describing DSRC as one of the many tools that lead to car safety, Singh called it the "icing on the cake, but not the cake itself."
The original concept for DSRC is to use the technology for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications.
Qualcomm's preemptive move toward DSRC, while virtually no US infrastructure exists to support it, has surprised many industry observers. IHS analyst Juliussen said, "I'm amazed that Qualcomm is planning to integrate DSRC into its SoCs this early in the game." Juliussen believes that V2V is still three to five years down the road.
However, the analyst noted that V2I is starting in Europe.
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