Accelerating Automotive Software & Processor Design with NXP

Marc Serughetti

Jun 23, 2022 / 4 min read

The car of the future has become no less than a supercomputer on wheels. As the disruption in automotive electronics continues and the demand for more efficient electric vehicles and advanced driver assistance functionalities increases rapidly, so has the complexity and software content embedded in the vehicle. Today, accelerating automotive system testing and solving the various challenges related to increasing software content as early as possible have become prevalent problems for automotive system design teams worldwide.

Moving from a hardware-centric world to a software-defined world is easier said than done. Automotive developers need to increase testing productivity by starting earlier and using a more efficient approach. Transitioning from physical testing to virtual testing is essential to achieving such objectives. A virtual testing environment can be used at any time, from anywhere, at scale to increase testing demand and efficiency. This is essential as the system under test gets more interconnected with other electronic systems in the car. In this challenging environment, virtual prototyping has demonstrated unique capabilities for teams to enable continuous software development and testing even before a hardware sample is available.

Recognizing the growing need for more scalable and efficient vehicles from automotive Tier 1s and OEMs, NXP has announced a new class of real-time automotive processors — the S32Z and S32E families of processors — an extension of its existing S32 automotive platform. To help NXP’s automotive customers and ecosystem accelerate the software development and deployment of new vehicle features, Synopsys Virtualizer™ Development Kits (VDKs) are now available for NXP’s S32Z/E processors. Our VDK has been used by NXP’s teams to develop their S32Z/E enablement software and firmware.

Automotive Prototype (angle)

Empowering Teams with Faster and Earlier Automotive Software Development

Synopsys VDKs enable software development to occur much earlier in the design cycle. This means that teams can start the development process months before the hardware design has finished, enabling full system bring-up to occur, validating software for the entire vehicle, and replacing physical testbenches with the virtual environment.

The Synopsys VDK for NXP S32Z/E processors targets the domain of vehicle control, including driving propulsion domain control, electrification, and safety. The NXP S32Z/E real-time processors combine the real-time behavior of safe microcontrollers with an unparalleled combination of gigahertz speed, multi-application isolation, and memory expansion capabilities, all while providing system-level integration support for electric vehicle (EV) actuation.

“The NXP S32Z and S32E processors deliver the real-time performance needed to safely integrate vehicle control and actuation applications for next-generation vehicles,” said Brian Carlson, global marketing director for Vehicle Control and Networking Solutions at NXP. “Our long-standing Center of Excellence collaboration with Synopsys resulted in the availability of VDKs for these processors to enable OEM companies to accelerate the development and deployment of real-time features that are essential for the next generation of software-defined vehicles.”

Can this translate to better design quality and reduced development costs? Absolutely, and this ultimately works to avoid potential design and vehicle recalls in the future while gaining utmost value.

Accelerating Productivity and Innovation Hand in Hand

By 2025, global EV sales are projected to grow to a mighty 11.2 million vehicles compared to 2.5 million vehicles in 2020. With today’s highly competitive EV market and fast-paced design cycles, reducing development costs and increasing time-to-market require deploying new development tools.

Because virtual prototypes are fully functional software models of actual systems, advanced system-level debug and analysis software development tools help designers resolve design and software issues in hours rather than weeks. This increases productivity significantly and takes the guesswork out of the system-on-chip (SoC) design process.

Using VDKs for the NXP S32Z/E processors, automotive Tier 1 and OEM companies can establish a Virtual Hardware ECU environment for system integration, as well as fault and coverage testing, resulting in faster development, higher software quality, and increased system reliability. As an industry leader in virtual prototyping, Synopsys offers a family of pre-validated VDKs for popular processor architectures. This increased demand to enable automotive customers with virtual prototypes extends Synopsys’ library of virtual MCU/SoC models.

Anchored by our virtual prototyping solution, we offer a comprehensive suite of closely integrated tools and technologies that enable the development and deployment of virtual prototypes. The newest S32Z/E processors are designed with certified ISO 26262:2018 functional safety and ISO 21344 cybersecurity support, along with embedded cryptography accelerators to provide unparalleled technical features and benefits.

A History of Deep Technical Expertise and Collaboration

Synopsys and NXP have worked closely for several years through their automotive Center of Excellence (CoE) collaboration, enabling mutual customers to further accelerate the development, integration, and testing process months ahead of silicon availability. The CoE collaboration combines Synopsys’ VDK technology and deployment expertise with the benefits of NXP’s underlying S32 platform.

The shared history of deep technical knowledge from both companies provides carmakers and automotive suppliers across the globe with immediate access to VDKs to deploy a virtual hardware ECU environment and develop software for automotive electronic systems. The result addresses key market trends and accelerates system and software testing, earlier and faster.

Synopsys VDK virtual hardware/virtual hardware-in-the-loop tools are part of Synopsys’ comprehensive electric vehicle virtual prototyping solution including Synopsys Silver software-in-the-loop tools and Synopsys Saber power system design tools. Synopsys virtual prototyping tools can be used in stand-alone fashion or combined to provide full system virtual prototypes. The Synopsys electronic virtual prototyping solution enables automotive companies to accelerate software development and system testing, resulting in more efficient development and higher quality, thus reducing the risk of recalls.

As the industry continues to drive toward megatrends — be it vehicle electrification, ECU consolidation, software-defined vehicles, high-performance real-time processing, ASIL D safety control, or domain and zonal control — it is imperative for automotive system design teams to transition from physical to virtual prototypes and accelerate the development cycle in real time. After all, hitting the accelerator on automotive software development is what will help reimagine the automotive industry’s future, irrespective of whether that’s a self-driving car, an electric vehicle, or anything in between.

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