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Arm reveals next-gen chip designs to accelerate automated driving

The semiconductor and software design firm has revealed new technology it says will speed up automated car development by two years.

By Tech Monitor Staff

Arm has unveiled new-generation chip designs it believes will turbocharge the development of automated driving. The new chip designs, which are usually used in data centres, will be available to the automotive industry for the first time. 

Arm is also launching virtual prototypes of its new chips, helping developers get a head start on developing apps before the physical silicon is available, meaning automated cars can be developed in a much quicker cycle.

The announcement on Wednesday marks a “critical step” for Arm as it accelerates time to market and unlocks opportunities for the automotive ecosystem, from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and automotive tier 1 suppliers to silicon partners and software providers.

Dipti Vachani, SVP and GM of Arm’s automotive business, told the Financial Times that the first vehicles using these new chip designs and software would still not be road-ready for another four or five years, highlighting the automotive industry’s challenge regarding long production periods for AI-powered vehicles.

Consumers now demand greater levels of autonomy from vehicles for a smoother and safer driving experience. (Photo by cono0430 via Shutterstock)

From mobile phones to automotive

The software design company, which licenses basic architectural designs to other chipmakers, called for a fundamental rethink of in-vehicle product development as the industry is in a dramatic state of digital transformation. Consumers now demand greater levels of autonomy from vehicles for a smoother and safer driving experience. More AI and sophisticated technologies are therefore needed to create these developments at speed, as the transition from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric vehicles (EVs) continues.

Amazon Web Services, Cadence Design Systems, Siemens SE and Nvidia are among the businesses that Arm has highlighted it will be partnering with to incorporate new designs into products and systems and to deliver these virtual platforms and cloud solutions, which allow for earlier, more seamless development across the full software stack. Nvidia’s Drive Thor platform for autonomous systems, including self-driving vehicles and robots, already utilises Arm’s Neoverse central processing unit (CPU).

The announcement also highlights that the company is steering away from mobile phone processors, which the Softbank-backed business was once known for. Following his appointment as CEO in 2022, Rene Haas has made automotive a key focus for Arm as it diversifies from the smartphone market following declining sales over the last two years.

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Increasing AI-powered applications

The new chip designs include the Arm Neoverse V3AE, making high-performance, energy-efficient architecture for server-class performance available for the first time to car manufacturers. The new chip will enhance the performance of AI-powered advanced driver-assistance systems, according to the company.

The tech package, under the Armv9 umbrella, includes a range of industry-specific Cortex-A processors based on V9 architecture that are tailor-made for automotive. These include the Cortex-A720AE to provide more sustainable performance for multiple software-defined vehicle applications, and the Cortex-A520AE, a more power-efficient version that supports functional safety features at scale. The company has also announced the new Arm Mali-C720AE chip blueprint, which is said to be a more configurable image-processing chip for demanding computer vision applications.

The chips come with a new range of configurable system intellectual property to help the automotive ecosystem in providing scalable systems-on-chip for high-performance automotive use cases. To support these new chips, virtual platforms will be developed for a variety of specific vehicle functions.

Read more: GM bringing ChatGPT-like assistant to its cars

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