Special Coverage

2010 Convergence

DETROIT – Just as auto makers are trying to create global standardized chassis platforms for vehicles, suppliers are busy developing specialized electronic chip platforms for a growing number of complex tasks requiring high-speed on-board data processing.

And, just like with vehicles, electronic platforms provide a standardized foundation with basic embedded features aimed at saving design and engineering time and resources, says Kevin Tanaka, senior manager-Wordwide Automotive Marketing and Product Planning, Xilinx Inc.

Xilinx supplies electronic controllers known as programmable logic devices that process and control huge amounts of data.

At this week’s SAE Convergence 2010 conference, Xilinx introduces three electronic design platforms specifically targeted at automotive applications.

Tanaka says the new platforms enable automotive system designers to use a technology known as field-programmable gate array to cost-effectively manage and manipulate the vast amount of data being created by new electronic safety, convenience and infotainment systems.

Xilinx says FPGAs are more flexible alternatives for designers of automotive systems than conventional types of semiconductors. Some feature-laden luxury vehicles already contain as many as 18 FPGAs, Tanaka says.

Two of the new design platforms showcased at Convergence are aimed at facilitating birds-eye surround-view displays and instrument clusters, while the third is intended to speed development time for infotainment systems.

The surround-view chip provides a platform for processing multiple camera inputs. Image data from four exterior vehicle cameras can be used to provide a birds-eye view of the vehicle while parking or when doing other complicated jobs such as hooking up a trailer hitch.

The system also allows individual cameras to be decoupled from the surround-view function to provide rear-view parking images or even blind-spot detection. The system even can be designed to provide side views of oncoming cross traffic while pulling out from a blind parking spot.

The instrument-cluster design platform delivers high-quality graphic displays for increasingly popular virtual instrument clusters. It also can provide image distortion correction for head-up displays (HUDs).

Tanaka says current HUDs use special mirrors to project data on the inside of the windshield. The mirrors are specially crafted for each vehicle to eliminate distortion caused by the curvature of the windshield.

This new design platform can be programmed to electronically correct the distortion, eliminating the need for special mirrors.