Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm charge into automotive head-unit processor market

Tesla

Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm are leaders in their respective markets but all of them have set their eyes on and foot into the automotive market. Building on their leading edge technologies, these consumer chipmakers have developed solutions that are competing against established automotive chipset suppliers such as Freescale, Renesas, TI, and STMicroelectronics.

The reason is clear as the automotive head-unit processor market is expected to grow from US$680 million in 2013 to US$1.95 billion in 2020, according to ABI Research.

“Automotive head-units are transitioning from proprietary architectures requiring long development cycles and Tier1-led integration efforts towards platform designs. Ford set the tone back in 2007 with its SYNC solution based on CPU hardware from Freescale and the Windows Embedded OS allowing quicker development time frames and independence from the previously dominant Tier 1 suppliers,”said Dominique Bonte, Vice President and Practice Director of ABI Research.

“With head-unit infotainment, HMI, clusters, safety, and telematics complexity continuing to increase, hardware approaches are consolidating and evolving towards reference designs and open platforms such as the open source GENIVI stack, already adopted by BMW. This allows car OEMs to increase the reuse of software and middleware while decreasing costs and time-to-market and at the same time leveraging open ecosystems of suppliers,” he added.

Newcomers in automotive computing processors such as NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Intel are just starting to grab market share but will become major players in the future driven by platform approaches and automotive grade chipset designs. They are keen to leverage their multi-core CPU architectures and graphics engine assets to capitalise on the sharply increasing need for real-time in-vehicle computing for advanced multimedia, ADAS machine vision image processing and ultimately autonomous vehicle algorithms.

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