NXP drives automotive megatrends with smart, connected and secure systems
Coming from the times of the Ambassador car running mechanically on a side-valve engine, we are headed to the future of contextually-aware cars with the best-in-class LED experience, Bluetooth connectivity with touch and feel of luxury. The automotive industry is undergoing an entire generation sweep and the future promises everything connected, secure and smart. In conversation with Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and India Country Manager, NXP India, we at Auto Components
India decode the megatrends of technologies and methodologies which will make our cars secure from both hardware and software standpoint. Headquartered in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, NXP provides secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications for automated vehicles. Not going by the traditional wires, NXP supports the lightweighting of vehicles by using gateway manufacturing and electrification. About NXP’s expertise in developing products which withstand the rigorous temperatures, Gupta said, “This is the key strength of NXP. While a typical consumer chip is designed at 100*C, we design our automotive chips at both high and low temperatures of 165 degree C and -65 degree C. So whether you are driving in the Sahara desert or Antartica, the engine applications won’t stop.” While designing, real-life simulations are created for the chip at the computing stage until it works well even in the most extreme conditions. Gupta said, “We simulate the chip to resist mud, humidity, moisture and other scenarios at the designing stage itself. We freeze the design only if it doesn’t break after trying the performance in all kinds of utmost situations. Then it goes for manufacturing and testing.”
On minimalising power consumption, Gupta said, “We employ 2 techniques: at the architecture level and at the fabricating level. We isolate the power consumption (power domain isolation) by defining the power lines separately, for example, if we know that powertrain is using left part of the chip, we ensure that the right part goes unused. Then during the fabrication stage, we have neatly running wires on the chip which accommodate a lot of storage memory on the chip which in return contributes to saving power.” Forty-five percent of NXP’s revenue is coming from the automotive division while the rest 55 % is through consumer electronics and networking.
Made in India, S32V series is NXP’s 2nd generation vision processor, designed to support computation-intensive applications for image processing suited for ADAS, NCAP front camera, object detection
and recognition, surround view, machine learning and sensor fusion applications. Engineered in collaboration with Continental for automotive-grade reliability, functional safety and security measures to support vehicle and industrial automation, S32V is currently on the testing grounds and the production is expected to begin soon.
Establishing confidence in the reliability of automotive electronics is an issue across the industry. Lack of well-defined standards, inefficient data handling, and weak supply chain often makes it difficult to achieve a zero-failure electronics system. “Typically a system can have two kinds of failures. First, the intrinsic failures or functional safety issues which happen because of inefficient designing, construction and validation. These are the internal hazards which can be predicted and diagnosed. Second and the real problem is when the hazard is external i.e. cyber security issues which are unpredictable and random,” Gupta said.
“The first problem is solvable considering ISO 26262 which is the global functional safety standard. The second solution is a reliable device. It’s a well-known fact that in semiconductor physics, ageing happens. So to curb this, we have to work for the performance of the chip even after 10 years. This makes the automotive division the most complex as this is a zero-defect industry. For cyber security, we have a very robust mechanism in place called ‘5-layered security architecture’ which is a secured network where different applications are taken care of differently in separate and secured gateways. Capping this all, we provide secured interphase which is our infotainment channel. In case of malware or unauthorised restrictive entry, suitable restrictive measures are taken immediately,” he said.
For the autonomous vehicles, safety-related functionality that can sense and react to hazardous situations is needed. It’s an engineering process as critical as engineering the product itself. One of the biggest challenges is to cope with the need to anticipate a million possible interactions between the vehicle and its environment. On this Gupta said, “Think of all the hazardous contingencies that an autonomous vehicle has to contend with particularly in an urban environment. This needs to anticipate a wide range of possible interactions between the vehicle and its environment. One of the biggest challenges in developing safety for autonomous vehicles is conceiving a safetyrelated system and placing the system into an appropriate safe state.” Recently, NXP Semiconductors N.V. has been ranked fourth on the IoT ONE 500 Industrial IoT Index and is named one of the world’s most impactful Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) companies.
In India, an automotive networking revolution is under way, driven by the need for higher data capacity and speed to meet the requirements of increasingly autonomous and connected vehicles. Considering the shift in market momentum, Gupta commented, “By virtue of the nature of electric and driverless cars, which is the trend these days,
market demands connectivity. Not just this, we need a strong network of charging stations. Even the government is pushing for this.” Costing is another limitation to cope with, as “India is a unique case where everything is needed at zero costs. Profitability is low but higher volumes are at play. Despite this, India is going to get a lot of traction,” he said.
On the operations of the business in India, Gupta said, “We face operational challenges more than technological challenges. Our supply chain was choked with unprecedented demand last year. We need more agile supply chains, where our chips can be produced and then qualified in a very small reaction time so that they are validated sooner.”
Since India is a hub for very strong and diversified market for 2- wheelers, NXP caters primarily to players like Hero, Bajaj and TVS. In the fourwheeler segment, NXP maintains good relationships with Maruti, Mahindra and Tata. Globally, NXP is catering to Continental and Bosch. Makes of BMW and Daimler are equipped with NXP’s ADAS, gateway and data fusion applications. Built on more than 60 years of combined experience and expertise, NXP has 31,000 employees in more than 33 countries and posted revenue of $9.5 billion in 2016. In India, the company employs around 2000 engineers and is located in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Noida. The India center also actively contributes to the development of several complex multi-core Digital Networking processors for high speed routers, wireless infrastructure and networking applications. NXP India Development Center, grew from a hardware IP and design integration group in the beginning, to an R&D center with almost 2000 employees, owning almost all aspects of semiconductor design from architecture to final delivery. The centre also have specialized skills on silicon testing and validation which are very niche and experienced from India market perspective.
“As we are heading towards BSVI emission norms compliance,
engines would have to be tweaked comprehensively to meet the emission criteria. It is about how cleaner and greener our engines become. The industry is still thinking as early movers might suffer a loss in revenue because we are in no man’s land. The market is not ready, the customer is not paying high enough. All in all, the ecosystem is not ready. Despite this, I’m quite optimistic” Gupta said.
New tie-up, acquisition
In mid-2018, NXP and Tata Consultancy Services inked a pact to identify and create unique solutions that will be co-created for the Automotive, Security and IOT industry. On the agreement between the 2 giants, Gupta averred, “This MoU is a great opportunity for both NXP Semiconductors and TCS to collaborate and solve complex problems in high-technology areas. It would also enable us to synergise our technical prowess and venture into several new and disruptive business domains that will support our customers more meaningfully.” The collaboration will also help drive the advancement of the key solution areas that will yield results across the industry and geographic markets.”
To enrich its portfolio, NXP acquired OmniPHY, a provider of automotive Ethernet subsystem technology later last year. To deliver the next-generation of data transfer solutions to carmakers, NXP plans to facilitate the demands of the next-generation vehicles. Call for eight or more cameras, high definition radar, lidar and V2X capability, all of which generate steep data challenges for current car networks. These requirements, combined with the modern vehicle’s need to offload data to enable the new business opportunities of the connected car, will soon make terabyte levels of data processing commonplace.
In an era where machine intelligence is turning away humans, the challenges and limitations amidst lack of standardization are grave. “Call it a challenge or an opportunity, but these superintelligent machines are equipped with both computing and cognitive powers. When these contextually-aware machines come into play, these machines can pose a possible threat to humans as there are no right policies in play. There is no standard for cyber security and multiplication of these self-aware machines will happen super fast. If executed well, the same can be used to create a big boost for the healthcare and all the things good in the society,” Gupta said.
NXP started its operations in India in 1990 with a mission of turning India into a centre of excellence in SoC Integration & IP design and has scaled new heights over the years. The company has become a vital part of the global network of design teams, which form the core of its business operations and is the second largest design center outside of Netherland and USA
During the last decade, these R&D centers in India have become self-sufficient to be able to develop complete semiconductor products with the support of hi-tech labs and varied functional expertise of IC design, like architecture design, IP development, SoC Design, Verification, Functional and Analog validation, and Test. The company’s ICs are manufactured in foundries across the world including, US, Europe, Singapore, China and Taiwan, while the final silicon validation is carried out on both digital as well as analogue domains in Noida and Bangalore. Added to the IC design capabilities, NXP R&D centers in India have proven strength in embedded and other software that enables the hardware design. The design center in Hyderabad focuses primarily on software developments in the Digital Networking including latest technologies such as 5G, network function virtualisation etc. With every passing year, the India Development Center is adding new product design capabilities and is steadily contributing to the success of NXP.
Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and India Country Manager, NXP India