To accelerate the development of increasingly complex and large-scale automotive computing systems for the autonomous-driving era, Renesas Electronics has announced two new third-generation R-Car starter kits that make the development environment more accessible to automotive software development engineers.
The new R-Car starter kits are targeted at the 'professional community' of highly specialised engineers engaged in software development in areas such as image recognition and HMI (human machine interface) who make active use of open-source software.
The kits simplify the development of the automotive Linux environment, allowing software engineers to devote their full attention to the development of highly specialised and sophisticated software. The kits also combine powerful computing performance and scalability so that they can be used for a wide range of computing applications. The new kits are lightweight and affordable so that software engineers in the community and professionals can easily be provided with their own tools for development of advanced automotive applications.
One of the two new starter kits employs the new R-Car M3 SoC (System-on-Chip), the newest member of the third-generation of R-Car lineup, designed for use in simple yet high-performance automotive computing systems. The R-Car M3 maintains software compatibility with the existing high-end R-Car H3 and provides a platform balancing high performance and cost to match increased requirements for HMI and ADAS features in higher-volume vehicle segments.
The R-Car starter kits will be available in two versions: the R-Car Starter Kit Pro, which comes with a board incorporating the R-Car M3, and the R-Car Starter Kit Premier, which comes with a board employing the high-end R-Car H3 SoC.
Software development for in-vehicle infotainment systems is growing in scale and complexity as carmakers strive to accelerate the development of autonomous driving systems and create new functions to differentiate their vehicles. As the number of new entrants grows, it has become essential to retain outstanding and highly specialised software engineers who are capable of putting development environments in place that support the specific requirements of automotive software.
Renesas has developed the new R-Car starter kits to simplify the task of building automotive Linux platforms as well as QNX development environments etc. optimised for automotive systems, which are being standardised by open-source communities (Note 1) including Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), GENIVI (Note 2). The starter kits are highly scalable and can be used in software development for a wide range of applications, such as ADAS, infotainment, reconfigurable digital clusters, and integrated digital cockpits. Leveraging the R-Car SoCs’ powerful computing performance for vehicle installations and advanced open-source software, the new starter kits enable software engineers in the 'professional community' to bypass lower-level development tasks and focus on the development of highly specialised and sophisticated software to speed time to market for new automotive computing systems.
“Renesas has been a constant supporter of GENIVI’s drive to bring Linux and open source to the automotive industry,” said Steve Crumb, Executive Director, GENIVI Alliance. "Renesas’ starter kits, coupled with the GENIVI Development Platform, will equip developers to produce software that accelerate innovation and deliver features needed for the vehicle to fully participate in the highly connected world.”
“Renesas is active in the open source community and has been a strong supporter of the Automotive Grade Linux project since its launch almost four years ago,” said Dan Cauchy, Executive Director of Automotive Grade Linux, The Linux Foundation. “Their commitment to collaboration and continued contributions to the AGL Unified Code Base are helping us transform the traditional automotive supply chain model.”
“Automakers and Tier 1 manufacturers have been using the combination of QNX and Renesas technologies for over a decade to build leading-edge infotainment systems,” said Grant Courville, Senior Director Product Management at QNX Software Systems. "With the new generation of high-performance Renesas R-Car SoCs and QNX’s ISO 26262-certified operating system and tools, they can create highly integrated, scalable safety certified ADAS and safety systems for next-generation automated vehicles.”
Key features of the new R-Car starter kits:
1) Simplifies the process of establishing open-source automotive Linux environments
As an automotive semiconductor leader, Renesas is working to advance the standardisation of automotive open-source software, actively promoting the activities of AGL and GENIVI. This software has been selected by both organisations as their standard development environment and is widely supported within the open-source community. The new R-Car starter kits are designed to simplify the task of setting up automotive Linux environments for engineers who are new to the development of automotive software. The kits are competitively priced so that each developer can be provided with their own kit.
The starter kits provide powerful computing libraries with support for cutting-edge HMI software such as Wayland and OpenCL, and for cognitive computing (Note 3). The starter kits also support the QNX real-time OS with its proven track record in the automotive field. With this robust environment, the new R-Car starter kits are well suited as development platforms for automotive software created by highly specialised professional communities of open-source developers.
2) High level of extensibility for use with a wide range of automotive computing applications
The new R-Car starter kits provide the primary peripheral interfaces essential to automotive computing development, including Ethernet, audio in/out, display outputs, USB, and JTAG. There is also a 440-pin expansion port that enables use of all the peripheral pins of the R-Car SoC. This expansion connector, when used with an expansion board with peripheral functions to match the development requirements and application, enables the starter kits to be employed for a wide range of computing applications, from a simple advanced computer vision development environment to prototyping of large-scale systems such as integrated cockpits. In addition, multiple R-Car starter kits can be combined to create a large-scale computing environment, for instance combining multiple R-Car H3 starter kits for autonomous vehicle software platform development. This reduces the time needed for hardware development while maintaining a high degree of software portability and reusability.
3) Highly accessible kits that enable system engineers to get started with their development right away, anywhere and anytime
The R-Car starter kits will be easily obtainable from Avnet, and Marutsu Elec, in addition to Renesas sales companies and agents. Bulk orders of several hundred units can also be accommodated to meet the trend toward larger scale and globalisation in automotive software development. The R-Car starter kits make it easy for engineers to get started right away, anywhere and anytime.
4) New R-Car M3 SoC optimized for high-volume automotive computing systems
The R-Car M3 SoC incorporated into the R-Car Starter Kit Pro has functions and performance optimised for use in high-volume infotainment and 3D digital cluster applications. This means the R-Car M3 can be utilised to meet a variety of user requirements for use in a wide range of automotive computing devices. It is also software-compatible with the existing high-end R-Car H3 SoC. Therefore, the same software can be used with both of the new R-Car starter kits. The R-Car M3 is available in a single-chip version and an SiP module version equipped with DDR memory. As faster connection speeds between SoC and DDR memory become the norm and the number of signal connections increases, the design aspects related to the connection become more difficult. The availability of a SiP module reduces the design workload for the customer.
The new R-Car starter kits are part of Renesas’ commitment to supporting global and speedy software development for the automotive community. Renesas has been working with over 180 partner companies in the R-Car Consortium to deliver solutions for in-vehicle infotainment systems and advanced driving safety support systems.