NXP, Applied EV Team Up for Software-Defined Vehicles

December 12, 2023 by Jake Hertz

The two companies will focus on the joint development of electronics and software within vehicles. This article explains software-defined vehicles and details the collaboration

The automotive industry is shifting as vehicles become increasingly electrified and reliant on advanced software for control and ADAS functions. A major tenet of this change is the emergence of software-defined vehicles (SDV), a concept set to redefine vehicular architecture to enable a more integrated, flexible, and safe approach to vehicle design and operation. 


Applied EV’s Digital Backbone for a software-defined vehicle design.

Applied EV’s Digital Backbone for a software-defined vehicle design. Image used courtesy of Applied EV


Applied EV, a vehicle control system technology company, and NXP Semiconductors, a leader in automotive processing, are collaborating to push the state of the art in SDVs. 


What Are Software-Defined Vehicles?

At their core, software-defined vehicles shift the primary focus from hardware-based systems to software-centric solutions.

In a software-defined vehicle, most of the vehicle's functions and features are controlled by software rather than dedicated hardware components. This approach contrasts with traditional vehicles, where distinct hardware systems are responsible for specific functions like navigation, entertainment, and engine management. In an SDV, a centralized software platform orchestrates these functions, allowing for seamless integration and coordination between vehicle systems. This centralization typically relies on advanced processors and network systems that can handle vast amounts of data and support complex computational tasks, crucial for enabling features such as autonomous driving, real-time diagnostics, and over-the-air updates.


A software-defined vehicle.

A software-defined vehicle. Image used courtesy of Renault Group


The operation of a software-defined vehicle hinges on its ability to dynamically update and modify its software. Unlike traditional vehicles, which require physical modifications or replacements to upgrade, SDVs can receive software updates remotely, similar to a smartphone or a computer. This capability ensures that vehicles remain up-to-date with the latest features and improvements, extending their lifespan and enhancing the user experience. Furthermore, the flexibility of the software allows for greater customization and personalization of the vehicle's functions, tailoring them to users’ specific needs and preferences.


NXP and Applied EV Team Up

The collaboration between Applied EV and NXP Semiconductors is a pioneering effort in the automotive industry to create a new standard in vehicle control and communication systems. Specifically, the groups will focus on integrating two key technologies: Applied EV's Digital Backbone and NXP's S32G family of vehicle network processors. 

Digital Backbone is a software and electronic centralized control system that sets a new benchmark for safety-rated vehicles operating in various environments. This technology, built on Applied EV’s proprietary software, is designed to centralize all software functions into a single control system, dynamically powering all driving and steering functions. This approach simplifies the vehicle's architecture and enhances its sustainability by reducing OEM complexity and accelerating development and deployment.


Block diagram of the S32G2 processor.

Block diagram of the S32G2 processor. Image used courtesy of NXP


NXP is offering up its S32G vehicle network processors to support this. These processors blend safety, security, and high-performance processing capabilities. They feature multi-core Arm Cortex-A53 application processors with optional cluster lockstep support and dual-core lockstep Cortex-M7 real-time microcontrollers. These processors are also designed to meet the stringent requirements of ISO 26262 ASIL D safety standards, reaching the highest level of safety for automotive applications. The hardware security and high-performance real-time and application processing capabilities make them ideal for managing complex vehicle networks and accelerating the shift to software-defined vehicle architectures. 


A Step Forward for Software-Defined Vehicles?

Integrating Digital Backbone and S32G processors could result in a big push forward for the automotive industry. The companies believe this combination creates a more streamlined, efficient, and safe vehicle architecture. The centralization of control and processing capabilities leads to a reduction in system complexity and, ultimately, an increase in the reliability and safety of vehicles.