ECU operating system to reduce complexity in the car

October 14, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
More safety, less complexity - these have been the design goals for the ECU operating system which Finnish software company Elektrobit is introducing at the international automotive supplier conference IZB in Wolfsburg. The Autosar-compliant operating system is the first at the market to fully support the automotive safety standard ISO26262 on multicore processors.

With the EB Tresos Safety Multicore OS, Elektrobit rolls out a critical building block and an enabler for the automobile industry's plans towards automated driving. Any kind of automated driving functions will be per se safety relevant - which means that the Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that run the respective algorithms have to be designed according to the rules defined in ISO26262, and they have to be laid out for the highest safety level, ASIL D, explained Florian Wandling, Department Head for Innovations, Car Infrastructure, at Elektrobit.

Safety however is not the only motivation to develop this operating system. "Automated driving, even Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), demand ever more computing power," Wandling said. "The Problem is that the number of ECUs in the cars is hitting the limit." The same holds true for the wiring harness, with a weight of up to 250 kg already the second heaviest part in many cars. "What is needed in this situation is higher integration, at the hardware level as well as on the software level."

With this consideration, Elektrobit joins the growing group of OEMs and tier ones that call for domain controllers that centralise many software tasks as opposed to the "one task, one ECU" approach the automotive industry pursued since the inception of electronic controls in cars. The EB Tresos Safety Multicore OS therefore will support multitasking and run on multicore processors with up to 6 cores. An important aspect is that it enables car makers to integrate applications from different vendors on one processor platform. Users also can flexibly distribute software components to different cores.

Currently, only 32-bit processors such as the Qorivas from Freescale and Infineon's Aurix family meet this description, but there is no technical limitation to port the operating system to 64-bit architectures once they are available for the automotive market. "We will support all multicore architectures that will become available in the near future", Wandling