Get There Faster: IoT and ECU Consolidation Drive Auto Innovation

Cars today have more computing capabilities than ever before, using dozens of interconnected electronic control units (ECUs) for enhanced vehicle management, premium entertainment, and remote telematics. ECUs provide outstanding results for consumers, but can negatively impact both space and energy efficiency. In the blog post below, Georg Doll, Vice President, Automotive Solutions, Wind River, explains how virtualization technology is the key to reducing ECU inefficiencies and accelerating vehicle innovation.

Everyone who loves cars—from engineers to auto executives to consumers—loves to imagine what the car of the future will look like, what it will be capable of, and what jaw-dropping new features it will deliver. Today the buzz is about the “connected car,” a sleek, intelligent, digital appliance on wheels, where convenience, comfort, safety, and performance merge with powerful network technologies to keep drivers and passengers connected on the go. And consumer expectations have been further heightened by the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT).


It’s a beautiful vision, but we know there are challenges ahead. Today, collaboration between software and hardware truly delivers on the demands of consumers. Software drives the electronic control units (ECUs) that power everything from dashboard instruments to safety features to powertrain components to in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems. The number of these devices in the average car has doubled in the past ten years, and many cars now incorporate more than 125 separate ECUs. While ECUs are instrumental to innovation, these units take up an increasing amount of space, they draw power, and their weight decreases energy efficiency. And as consumer expectations grow in the IoT world, so too will the trend toward more ECUs in the vehicle.

Consolidation of ECUs is an obvious solution, but how? How do you deal with the increasing software complexity? How do you consolidate without an explosion of integration issues? How do you avoid a massive new testing effort that could jeopardize time-to-market? And what can you learn from other industries to help answer these questions?

Wind River, a world leader in delivering software for intelligent connected systems (and a subsidiary of Intel), has published a new white paper, “A Smart Way to Drive ECU Consolidation,” to address these challenges. The key is to utilize virtualization technology and multicore processors. By doing so, you can actually accelerate innovation in ECU-based functionality—and drive new competitive advantages for forward-looking auto manufacturers.

ECU consolidation has been a goal of automakers for years. It’s time to turn the vision into


reality. The approach outlined in the brief article is based on mature technology, it has been proven in real-world implementations, and is financially practical. Business leaders in the automotive industry can now have their development, testing, and security teams take a closer look at the underlying technology of this new approach—and at the possibilities for improving the efficiency, safety, and security of future automobiles, the satisfaction and brand loyalty of consumers, and bottom-line business profitability.

As more ECUs are added to vehicles, the vehicle’s “attack surface” grows. Watch “A new era of trust: Advancing security in the intelligent car” to see how Intel is advancing ECU security to protect vital vehicle subsystems from dangerous threats.

Post originally published on IoT@Intel blog.