HMI: More than just a machine interface

January 25, 2013 // By Andreas Grimm, Fujitsu Europe
The advances made by the technologies and innovations that we see all around us every day in smartphones and tablets are simply breathtaking. At the same time, it is astounding how human habits and behavioural patterns are changing as a result of technological factors. Within vehicles, new technologies are most obvious to the user in the form of display instrumentation and HMIs (human-machine interfaces).

Multimedia and 3D graphics are gaining ground in vehicles. Not only in the infotainment sector, but also in the human-machine interfaces. To stay competitive while producing a wide variety of devices, the automotive industry requires modular, scalable system solutions that must be taken into account as early as the semiconductor specification stage.

Sprite-based GPU for scalable system solutions

As a processor manufacturer, Fujitsu Semiconductor Europe has been both a driver and a consumer of technological developments for in-vehicle graphical applications. The MB88F334 'Indigo2' is the latest graphics processor optimised for display applications in future vehicle models (Figure 1).

Figure 1: MB88F33x ‘Indigo2’ block diagramme

Key requirements influencing the development of the second generation of this processor family were modularisation and the implementation of flexible system architectures. To this end, internal components were defined to support the goal of implementing cost-effective embedded applications.

By its very nature, display instrumentation is very diverse. Within the vehicle, instrumentation often offers us a combination of scalable displays, conventional dial instrumentation, LEDs and tell-tales. As with its predecessors, ‘Indigo2’ is optimised for these applications as a standalone GPU (graphics processing unit) that is controlled by a host controller over an APIX interface. Version 2 of the APIX standard offers a usable bandwidth of 3 Gb/s, with which video and control data can be transmitted between host controller and GPU – even over large distances.

Equipped with the first APIX generation, today’s MB88F332 ‘Indigo’ is managing the displays for a wide range of vehicle applications. In addition to high bandwidth, the APIX2 video and sideband links offer further innovations. This enables the uncompressed, simultaneous and real-time transmission of two completely different video content streams – such as video for the instrument cluster and for the main display of a vehicle application. In addition, the video link also offers enough bandwidth for up to eight digital audio channels. Copyright protection is also taken into account. Since this

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