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Driving further toward the next generation of automobiles, Qualcomm Technologies on Tuesday announced the Snapdragon Ride Flex system-on-chip, which is engineered to support mixed-critical workloads across mixed compute resources.

The goal is to allow the digital cockpit, advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving functions to coexist on a single SoC, according to the company, which made the announcement at CES. Snapdragon Ride Flex is the latest addition to the company’s Snapdragon Digital Chassis product portfolio.

Snapdragon Flex SoC’s capabilities

Designed to meet the highest level of automotive safety, the Flex SoC aims to enable a hardware architecture to support isolation, freedom from interference and quality of service for specific ADAS functions. It comes equipped with a dedicated automotive Safety Integrity Level D safety island.

The Flex SoC also integrates a software platform that supports multiple operating systems working concurrently, hypervisor enablement with isolated virtual machines and a real-time operating system with an automotive open system architecture.

According to Qualcomm, this gives the Flex SoC the capabilities to meet the mixed-criticality workload requirements for driver assistance safety systems, digital reconfigurable clusters, infotainment systems, driver monitoring systems, and park-assist systems.

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The Flex SoC is integrated with the Snapdragon Ride Vision stack, which is designed to enable highly scalable and safe driver assistance and automated driving experiences using a front camera to meet regulatory requirements. It is also meant to enable multi-modal sensors, such as multiple cameras, radars, lidars and maps, for an enhanced perception that creates an environmental model around the vehicle feeding into vehicle control algorithms.

The Snapdragon Ride Vision stack meets the New Car Assessment Program requirements and Europe’s General Safety Regulations while scaling up to higher levels of autonomy, the company said.

Qualcomm leveraged its background in developing open, scalable, high-performance and power-efficient automotive offerings in designing the Flex SoC family to be compatible with the broader portfolio of SoCs within the Snapdragon Digital Chassis Platform, the company said.

Designed for complex use cases

The goal was to optimize Flex SoC for performance scalability, ranging from entry-level to premium, high-end central-compute systems, Qualcomm said. This will give automakers the flexibility to choose the appropriate performance point for their vehicle tiers.

Further, Flex SoC is designed to enable automakers to tackle complex cockpit use cases, such as integrated instrument clusters with immersive high-end graphics, infotainment and gaming displays, and rear seat entertainment screens, concurrently with latency-critical premium audio experience and the integrated Snapdragon Ride Vision stack. These performance requirements can be realized by utilizing hardware and software codesign, Qualcomm said.

The Flex SoC is also designed to be an ideal in-vehicle central-compute platform to power the next-generation software-defined vehicle offerings by providing high-performance, safe compute with the ability to execute mixed critical cloud-native workloads. The in-vehicle compute is complemented by platform software capable of being deployed on a containerized infrastructure, according to Qualcomm.

Aiming to help automakers transition to an integrated, open, and scalable architecture across all vehicles

The Flex SoC is supported by a cloud-native automotive software development workflow, which includes support for virtual platform simulation that can be integrated as part of in-cloud DevOps and machine learning operations infrastructure.

The first Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC is sampling now for an expected start of production beginning in 2024.

“As we enter the era of software-defined vehicles, the Snapdragon Ride Flex SoC family defines a new setpoint for high-performance, power-optimized, mixed-criticality architectures,” said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president and general manager of automotive at Qualcomm.

Duggal said the goal is to make it “easier and more cost-effective for automakers and Tier-1s to embrace the transition to an integrated, open, and scalable architecture across all vehicle tiers with our pre-integrated suite of hardware, software, and ADAS/AD stack solutions.” At the same time, Qualcomm aims to enable “the ecosystem to differentiate on our platforms with an accelerated time-to-market advantage.”