PCI Express in Automotive Applications – Design for Reliability
By: Richard Solomon, Sr. Technical Marketing Manager, Synopsys
With every generation, automotive electronics become increasingly complex. Infotainment systems now rival home theaters in complexity, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) practically require the compute power of a data center. The architectures for many ADAS involving machine vision are similar to high performance cloud computing systems: an array of powerful processors connected by high bandwidth PCI Express® (PCIe) links. Due to the successful use of PCIe in cloud computing applications, it is no surprise that PCI Express is becoming prevalent in automotive electronic systems. It is also common to find PCIe WiFi chips, PCIe GPUs, and PCIe ASIC-to-ASIC connections in infotainment systems.
Automotive electronics must meet stringent reliability standards where safety is of the utmost importance — in powertrain and braking controls, ADAS, and other vehicle operation platforms. Even an automotive infotainment system is expected to perform flawlessly despite being powered on for an entire day of driving where the temperature, humidity, and vibration can vary drastically from moment to moment. While consumers may accept rebooting their smartphone weekly or replacing their phone every 2-3 years, they expect to do neither throughout the life of their automobile. Reliability is a key component of functional safety and is critical to achieving Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASIL) certification, which is required for most ADAS systems. System-on-chip (SoC) designers need to approach automotive reliability with even more concern than they would for a high-performance server operating in a traditional data center.