Over the past decade, the automobile industry has been operating under the influence of four megatrends, integrating advances in electronic component design and improving circuit performance to enhance the driving experience: safety, reliability, efficiency, and connectivity.

 

Most modern automobiles include Engine and Powertrain control, Infotainment, Safety Control, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to control the vehicle operation and safety and influence the driver/user experience, accelerating the autonomous-vehicle market and increasing the amount embedded solutions within cars and trucks. Modern high-end cars are using near 100 Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to improve the performance of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Avoidance, or Automatic Parking systems. Those ADAS applications demand intensive processing capabilities for environment recognition based on data processing from Radar, Lidar, or camera and sensor fusion; and require sophisticated process nodes to meet high performance and power demand.

 

The automotive industry is migrating to disruptive and innovative technologies while facing reliability challenges like electrostatic discharge, electromigration, or process variation. Because of this, safety becomes a critical requirement to guarantee the level of risk in the vehicle systems, defined by the general electronics IEC 61508 standard and the functional safety ISO 26262, as automotive electronic elements should have a systematic design philosophy to ensure reliability against thermal stability and aware fatigue, electromigration, or inductive discharges, power line emissions, and radiation noises.

 

The race to self-driving cars started to speed since the past years boosting the complexity of those embedded solutions, becoming a fast driver to enable functional safety in the whole automotive industry —traditionally addressed by car manufacturers and system suppliers. This race has supported the evolution of System on Chip (SoC) development and becoming an integral part of the semiconductor design flow for automotive applications, across the entire supply chain; sharing the responsibility of guaranteeing functional safety and reliability standards to semiconductor and software companies, but tool providers too.