ST to develop SoC for VW Group software-defined vehicles

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Cariad, the software unit of Volkswagen Group, and semiconductor developer STMicroelectronics are to launch the joint development of an automotive system-on-chip (SoC).

The planned cooperation targets the next generation of Volkswagen Group vehicles that will be based on a unified and scalable software platform. At the same time, the parties are moving to agree that TSMC, a dedicated semiconductor foundry company, will manufacture the SoC wafers for ST. Cariad intends to secure the chip supply for the Volkswagen Group’s cars years in advance.

As part of its semiconductor strategy, Cariad will enter direct relationships with semiconductor suppliers at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 level for the Volkswagen Group for the first time. In the future, Cariad plans to direct Tier 1 suppliers of the group to use only the SoC co-developed with ST and ST’s standard Stellar microcontroller for Cariad’s zone architecture.

“We are about to launch a groundbreaking new cooperation model for the Volkswagen Group. With the planned direct cooperation with ST and TSMC, we are actively shaping our entire semiconductor supply chain. We’re ensuring the production of the exact chips we need for our cars and securing the supply of critical microchips for years to come,” said Murat Aksel, Volkswagen Group’s board member for purchasing. “In this way, we are setting new standards in strategic supply chain management.”

The project is a first for Cariad and ST. “With the co-development of the system-on-chip with ST ahead of us, we are consistently pursuing our semiconductor strategy. The SoC we are designing will be optimally matched to our software – without compromise. In this way, we can offer our group’s customers the best performance for their cars,” added Cariad CEO Dirk Hilgenberg. “The use of a single, optimized architecture in all Volkswagen electronic control units will give us an enormous boost for the efficient development of our software platform.” This efficiency will allow all electronic control unit (ECU) devices – from microcontrollers to SoCs – to run on a common basic software in the future.

The new SoC should complement ST’s existing Stellar microcontroller family by extending its power-efficient real-time capabilities to service-oriented environments. Cariad is contributing its specific target requirements and functionalities for the Volkswagen Group vehicles and will help extend the architecture of ST’s 32-bit Stellar Automotive microcontroller.

Cariad says it will include both the jointly developed SoCs based on Stellar and the standard Stellar microcontroller in its new AU1 processor family. This, it says, will offer Cariad flexible scaling for various applications in the car to meet the needs of all Volkswagen Group brands. The chips are being designed for all applications in the areas of networking, drivetrain, energy management and comfort electronics – in zone controllers or in servers in VW’s operating system, VW.OS. Using a common device architecture will enable Cariad to develop only one basic software for all electronic control units (ECU), substantially reducing complexity and accelerating development. Moreover, the Stellar architecture encourages the integration of numerous functions into individual ECUs. This significantly reduces the number of ECUs in the car, increasing the cost-effectiveness and reliability for the software company.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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