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Enabling Next-Gen In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems

Lattice Drive: Enabling Next-Gen In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems
Posted 07/20/2023 by Mark Hoopes, Director of Automotive & Industrial Segment Marketing

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“The Automotive industry is rapidly evolving and cars are getting smarter than ever with new technological advancements, notably with zonal architectures, improved sensors for ADAS, and the increasing use of high quality displays across vehicle models. Now more than ever, manufacturers need solutions that enable them to innovate while maintaining flexibility for future updates.” - Bob O’Donnell, President and chief analyst, TECHnalysis Research

Demand for electric and hybrid vehicles with advanced features is on the rise and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. According to McKinsey & Company, the global automotive software and electronics market is expected to reach $462 billion by 2030, with infotainment, connectivity, security, and connected services applications growing at pace with the overall software market to become the second-largest software market in the same timeframe.

As these reports suggest, infotainment systems are becoming one of the most important features customers consider when selecting a new vehicle. And, depending on the vehicle, these systems can take many forms, from a single touchscreen display to multiple, high-resolution displays for the central entertainment hub, the instrument cluster, heads-up displays, and the rear displays, with options such as curved, side mirror displays, 3D, augmented reality, and more on the horizon.

The complexity and the amount of information these systems need to process is increasing and evolving, requiring scalable and flexible hardware and software solutions to keep pace. Advanced electronic components require high interface speeds to support connectivity and synchronization of multiple displays, and low latency data processing with low power is becoming essential. Meeting (or failing to meet) these requirements impacts both driver and passenger safety and user experiences.

Sensors, Displays, Cameras Need Bridging Capability

As infotainment and ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) systems advance, the resolution of displays and cameras advance as well. Connecting and processing multiple high-resolution displays, sensors, and cameras at once can be quite challenging, and many modern cars are leveraging a ‘zonal architecture ’ to enable this. A zonal architecture provides better scalability, supporting simpler software development with improved functionality and reliability, where groups of sensor, computing, and interconnect elements are combined into different computing “zones” and the results from different zones are sent to the main SoC (system on chip).

As the number of displays, cameras, and other visual sensors increase, and new interfaces designed to manage the increased data rates exceed the central SoC’s I/O capabilities, efficient bridging is essential to combine, multiplex, or separate their signals. FPGAs are ideally suited for this thanks to their inherent flexibility, ability to perform a wide variety of functions, and small size. It’s not uncommon to see several FPGAs in a single vehicle, each powering a different application.

Lattice has a portfolio of Automotive-grade solutions for a variety of in-vehicle applications, including ADAS for sensor bridging and processing; low power, flexible zonal bridging; and driver, cabin, and vehicle monitoring.

Accelerating Automotive Application Development with Lattice Drive

Our recently introduced Lattice Drive solution stack helps auto makers accelerate the development of advanced, flexible Automotive system designs and applications that deliver next-generation in-vehicle experiences.

Lattice Drive Blog Image

With the initial release of Lattice Drive, we are focused on enabling advanced display bridging and processing capabilities to address evolving infotainment system requirements, including:

  • Advanced Display Connectivity and Processing
    • Enables multi-resolution scaling and supports display sizes up to 4K
    • Supports DisplayPort up to HBR 3 at 8.1 Gbps per lane
    • Provides image/video enhancement with a scalable full array local dimming solution
  • Multiple Display Connectivity
    • Allows for bridging multiple displays, providing up to 1.5X faster DisplayPort interface than competitive devices in similar class
  • Efficient Data Processing
    • Enables ability to process or co-process data to offload the CPU with up to 75% lower power than competitive devices in a similar class

With the Lattice Drive solution stack, auto makers can design infotainment systems with multiple, high-resolution displays that are scalable across vehicle model lines, and can offload CPU processing with faster interface speeds and lower power to allow seamless processing and connectivity. With the inherent flexibility of FPGAs, they can rapidly adapt designs to meet a wide variety of different model requirements, more easily adapt to supply chain disruptions, and ensure that future updates can be made in-field via software updates.

Local Dimming Needs Scalability with Flexibility

The Lattice Drive solution stack provide comprehensive application-specific solutions that combine reference platforms and designs, demos, IP building blocks, and FPGA design tools to accelerate customer application development and time-to-market. This includes adaptable full array local dimming solutions for Automotive LCD panels.

Lattice Drive Solution Stack

Full array local dimming is a technology whereby the LEDs are directly behind the LCD panel, with each LED or zone of LEDs capable of dimming individually to illuminate only those pixels of the display that are needed by dynamically adapting to the image content on the display. This can be a compute-intensive function, as the algorithms required are relatively complex. In addition to accounting for the various zones, the software must continuously monitor the lighting conditions, which change continuously as the automobile is in motion, potentially from daylight to darkness, through different weather conditions, through tunnels, etc.

These local-dimming techniques can be used for the vehicle’s heads-up display (HUD), which is typically used to project driver information onto the windshield, such as a car’s speed, navigation instructions, or warnings. Local dimming for the HUD not only enhances viewability but provides a more seamless experience.

Lattice Drive Scalable Local Dimming Solution Block Diagram

An FPGA is an excellent choice for implementing local dimming in automotive LCD panels as they can provide real-time processing capability, customization and flexibility, high speed interface, high reliability, and capability to run AI and ML algorithms. To read more details on how Lattice Drive solution stack running on low power Lattice FPGAs enables a full array local dimming solutions, please download our whitepaper.

To learn more about how the Lattice Drive solution stack can help you address key trends in Automotive application design and gain a time-to-market advantage, please reach out to speak with the team at Lattice.