Issue: Jun 2011


EB, Freescale, QNX Software Systems to Collaborate on First Digital Instrument Cluster Development P



by Lenny Case

EB (Elektrobit), a leading developer of cutting edge embedded technology solutions for the wireless and automotive industries, announced today that EB, Freescale Semiconductor and QNX Software Systems Limited have entered into a collaboration to create the first solution for creating reconfigurable digital instrument clusters. The solution will address automakers' need for a cost-effective, easy way to deploy or update cluster graphics and functionality across multiple vehicle lines.

"Our commitment to the automotive market has always been about providing the platform and tools that give our OEM partners the most innovative technologies while reducing the complexity of development. We firmly believe that our introduction of a rich graphics solution helps us fulfill this promise by taking the in-vehicle experience to the next level," said Martin Schleicher, Vice President Products & Platforms Infotainment, EB Automotive.

EB, Freescale and QNX Software Systems will combine and optimize the EB GUIDE 5 HMI tooling and runtime software, the QNX® Neutrino® Realtime Operating System (RTOS) and hardware-accelerated graphics drivers, and Freescale's i.MX53 processor with dual Graphics Processing Units and integrated automotive peripherals to form a highly efficient base for configurable instrument cluster development with advanced graphical capabilities and high performance.

The joint collaboration addresses the features required for a fully reconfigurable digital instrument cluster: feature-rich graphics supported by hardware acceleration (OpenGL ES2.0, OpenVG1.1), a tool-based development process and a scalable, standards-based RTOS platform to support software reuse across multiple car models and brands.

Designers and carmakers are seeking ways to deploy clusters on cost-sensitive electronics that can be dynamically reconfigured to display content (navigation screen, rear-view camera, tachometer, etc.) according to the driver's current needs and preferences, while making sure that the user interface is also simple and safe to use in different driving situations.

In partnership with Freescale and QNX, Elektrobit will develop a complete development platform that will help carmakers more quickly design and engineer instrument clusters that meet the digital lifestyle-demands of today's car buyers.

The new development platform will allow car makers to design instrumentation that employs user-friendly interfaces, 2- and 3-D graphics, video, voice recognition and other "smart" features demanded by today's consumers.

EB is in discussion with several major automakers who have expressed interest in using the new platform. The company expects to see the software in use at one or more automakers before year's end.

The HMI tool is EB GUIDE, an industry leading HMI development and speech dialog platform that targets low, mid and high-end head units and configurable instrument clusters. EB GUIDE 5 helps shorten development time by allowing customers to build compelling HMIs using a consistent tool chain. Extended graphics -- which display multiple dynamic objects -- demand adoption of new components, design techniques and tools like: multiprocessing, dynamic memory interfacing, or GUI and VUI design. The key benefits in developing instrument clusters are: management of a complex HMI, an illustrated state chart mechanism, support of speech input and output, product openness and business flexibility.

At the heart of the system is Freescale's automotive-grade i.MX53 processor, which is specifically designed for applications that require an advanced user interface, sophisticated video processing, 2D and 3D graphics, with a highly optimized graphics subsystem, multiple connectivity options and a high level of system integration.

"The i.MX53 is ideally suited for fully reconfigurable instrument clusters. The two integrated GPUs allow high-speed needle animation to be decoupled from the other graphic animation tasks for optimum visual effect. Integrated peripherals such as CAN, MLB, Ethernet and USB allow direct connection to automotive multimedia and diagnostic networks. This collaboration couples the system development environment that customers need to more rapidly develop a highly sophisticated reconfigurable cluster using a proven, automotive-grade hardware solution from Freescale," said Luke Smithwick, Operations Manager for Freescale's Driver Information Systems Business.

"With the QNX Neutrino operating system, customers building digital clusters can use an RTOS field-proven in over 20 million vehicles and certified for IEC 61508 Safety Integrity Level 3 -- this certification offers a tremendous head start for any customer who needs to achieve compliance with the related automotive standard ISO 26262. Moreover, QNX Neutrino offers a highly modular and flexible architecture, allowing customers to use the same OS platform across their infotainment and instrument cluster solutions," said Linda Campbell, director of strategic alliances at QNX Software Systems.

To reduce the development time, and to allow carmakers to focus on delivering branded experiences to the consumer, EB, Freescale, and QNX Software Systems will provide a set of tested and optimized, automotive-grade tools, real time operating system and hardware to develop the next generation graphical instrument cluster. By using the described set-up, OEMs and suppliers can start their graphical instrument cluster HMI development on a proven and tested basis. This saves development time and money they normally would spend on testing of a new set-up; it also helps them focus on differentiation.

EB, Elektrobit Corporation

EB develops advanced technology and transforms it into enriching end-user experiences. EB specializes in demanding embedded software and hardware solutions for the automotive industry and wireless technologies. The company's net sales for the year 2010 totaled EUR 161.8 million. Elektrobit Corporation is listed on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki. www.elektrobit.com

EB's Automotive Software Business

EB's Automotive Software Business has established itself internationally as one of the most important suppliers of embedded software solutions for the automotive industry. In addition to the development of innovative products, it also specializes in services and consulting for the automotive industry, supplying implementations of serial software solutions for a broad range of AUTOSAR and FlexRay, Infotainment, Navigation, HMI, and Driver Assistance systems.

QNX and Neutrino are trademarks of QNX Software Systems Limited, which are registered trademarks and/or used in certain jurisdictions. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners. QNX Software Systems Limited assumes no obligations or liability and makes no representation, warranty, endorsement, or guarantee in relation to any aspect of any third-party products or services.

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