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Evolving Instrument Cluster Systems

Shinichi Asano
Principal Specialist
Renesas Electronics Corporation

Automotive integrated cockpit control is a challenging space due to the integration of multiple and diverse cockpit functions. Besides the IVI and the Cluster systems, other ADAS functions such as DMS, FCW, SVS and connected vehicle telematic functionalities are finding attractive use-case and value add to the end customers. Many OEM’s are striving to deliver such high-level integration.

The instrument cluster system in a vehicle informs critical driving information such as speed, RPM and tell-tale functions. The instrument cluster is a mandatory system for safe driving and is mounted in all mainstream vehicles. In modern ECU’s instrument cluster have stringent requirements to integrate safety compliance.

At present, driver assistance functions and autonomous driving capability of the vehicle are progressing rapidly. This in turn increases the number of information transfer between the instrument cluster and various sensors, ECU’s and control devices. This is leading to an increased amount of information that the instrument cluster has to display and realize, including complex visualization information on nearby vehicles while driving. At the same time, from the point of view of safety, the need for increased visibility is increasing, and it is necessary to render graphics smoothly. Digital cluster system rendered by automotive LCD displays are becoming the de-facto standard, and system evolution continues onward from there.

  1. Cluster digitalization can support increased safety critical content and provide more user convenience. For example, it is possible to concurrently show a local map via smartphone connection and to safely warn driver using DMS (Driver Monitoring System).
  2. Furthermore, Integrated Cockpit System growth is accelerating due to continued focus on CASE (Connected Autonomous Shared Services & Electronic).

In summary, instrument cluster system needs to keep robustness despite the high level of system integration. Current solutions are using system isolation implemented by a hypervisor system and developing highly robust systems across all applications.

Robust System

Renesas can realize a simpler solution to provide benefits such as: “High Performance”, “Low Cost” and “High Robustness “. R-Car Gen3 has multi-core CPU and GPU that enables to isolate the cluster system from other ECU’s in the vehicle. The real time “CRx” core that includes a dual lock step operation to perform real time operations and fast boot solutions. With the Hypervisor or container-based approach, dual operating systems with shared memory services can operate on a single R-Car based ECU.

  1. Without Hypervisor, it is possible to easily isolate the instrument cluster from other systems such as IVI. However, a hypervisor is needed for integrated cockpit system that has multiple applications and complex operation, and it can utilize this CPU/GPU isolation technology for an instrument cluster.
  2. It is possible for cluster system to quickly bring up display, sound, and camera using simple RTOS on the CRx real time core.
  3. It is possible to realize high a performance system with each CPU and GPU operating simultaneously.
  4. With the above techniques, it is possible to utilize the same cluster software completely from Low-end to High-end systems by R-Car H3/M3/M3N/E3 line-up.

CPU GPU Isolation

Renesas R-Car family of SoC’s provide seamless integration of other evolving vehicle functions with the Instrument cluster with its high level of application, graphics processor and peripheral integration. Also, the need to achieve ASIL functionality is taken care through the built in CR7 processor. Moving into the future, Renesas aims to develop and deliver suitable solution that is optimized for performance, functions and reducing system cost to customer.


BiS Team

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