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Automotive Cybersecurity

GuardKnox and Xilinx: Innovating to Offer Flexible Hardware Infrastructure for the Cybersecurity Needs of Connected Vehicles

April 29, 2019

A new strategic technical partnership between GuardKnox and Xilinx will enable the companies to work together in supplying a secure hardware architecture for connected and autonomous vehicles. Xilinx’s line of flexible and high-powered Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Systems-on-a-Chip (SoCs) will be used in GuardKnox’s current product line of secure gateway domain controllers as well as in the company’s future secure products for securing body control modules and electric vehicle (EV) charging.

GuardKnox’s unrivaled levels of system performance, flexibility, scalability and interoperability is supported through the GuardKnox-Xilinx technical partnership by using Xilinx’s FPGAs and SoCs.  Xilinx’s SoC portfolio integrates the software programmability of a processor with the hardware programmability of an FPGA. By offloading the storage of schema, message data analysis and other logic to the programmable hardware, GuardKnox devices can analyze and manage the message traffic of vehicle networks at the near-instant speeds.

The GuardKnox High-Performance Compute Platform / Gateway Domain Controller uses the
Zynq® UltraScaleTM ZU3CG. Xilinx FPGAs are already in use by a number of GuardKnox product lines and projects:

All GuardKnox projects will use the Xilinx MicroBlaze™ 32-bit RISC Harvard architecture soft processor core. The strategic joint technical partnership will also include collaboration on hardware architecture that will support GuardKnox future solutions for OEMs and Tier 1s.

Flexible Hardware & Enhanced Security for the Automotive Industry

GuardKnox’s patented hardware architecture conjoined with the built-in connectivity of Xilinx is ideally suited for automotive in-vehicle applications and services, from development through production.

The Xilinx Zynq SoC devices have a high bandwidth interconnected between the programmable software and the programmable logic. Programmable logic enables hardware virtualization, or adding/subtracting virtual processors (‘software’ that is really hardware) to increase performance all while compartmentalizing software onto a single ECU. This allows for tight integration and flexible partitioning between both hardware and software. Furthermore, system responsibility can be distributed between the processing system (i.e. software) and the programmable logic (i.e. virtual hardware). Both the software and the virtual hardware can be reconfigured in the vehicle, either in total or partially, utilizing the reconfigurable nature of the devices.   

The ability to modify logical connections and computing resources of FPGAs after production enables GuardKnox to modify virtual hardware to support new applications or updated software without completely redesigning, or physically replacing the hardware architecture. The virtualization of the hardware gives the GuardKnox-Xilinx solutions several benefits:

  • Increased longevity of the customized GuardKnox solutions provided to OEMs and Tier 1 vendors and a reduced total cost of over their lifespan
  • Securely providing OTA software and OTA silicon updates for devices already deployed in vehicles at any time without impacting other isolated regions
  • Using the same hardware in multiple car models with customized offerings and connectivity that can be added or updated as networking standards change over time

  • Creating efficient, cost-effective vehicle network systems on a single device that works independently or with other application-specific devices such as audio/video processing acceleration or graphics subsystems

Xilinx diagram-01

Flexibility for the Automotive Networking of Today—And Tomorrow

Xilinx programmable technology solutions offer native support for accelerating security functionality in the programmable logic of the hardware. Cryptography can be performed with keys embedded in hardware and can also create secure memory from the FPGA.  Additionally, Xilinx offers built-in support for virtually any type and combination of vehicle networking interfaces through its programmable fabric and configurable IO, including: Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST®), Controller Area Networks (CAN), Automotive Pixel Link (APIX) and Ethernet Audio Video Bridging (EAVB).

The flexibility provided by the programmable technology, optimized memory hierarchies and configurable IO, provides GuardKnox with the ability to implement its own custom functions and architect its own system with multiple parallel processing engines with low latency while achieving high overall system throughput and precision timing. Furthermore, algorithms running on the processing system can be optimized by offloading and accelerated the parallel nature of the programmable logic fabric.

Xilinx and GuardKnox: Automotive Security Utilizing Programmable Logic Solutions

The strategic technical partnership between GuardKnox and Xilinx enables a platform for collaborative joint development activities on both the micro and macro scale of flexible and high powered FPGAs and the GuardKnox patented product line of domain controllers and electronic control units. Additionally, this platform enables edge computing which facilitates further analysis and support for AI-based solutions and on-going AI evaluation.

The joint development between GuardKnox and Xilinx creates an environment that enables streaming data at high multigigabit data rates needed for today’s connected vehicles as well as providing scalability for higher resources and memory that may be needed for the migration to autonomous vehicles and vehicle to infrastructure communication.  

The on-going collaboration and joint development work assures both Xilinx and GuardKnox remain at the cutting edge of the industry sharing lessons learned and ensuring their products not only meeting the evolving needs of the market, but also enable new and changing market offerings. This technical partnership secures an on-going executive engagement, joint product development and early access to new product lines and business opportunities as well as on-going global technical support. Furthermore,

Lastly, the GuardKnox-Xilinx collaboration supports market research and market trends moving towards complete driver personalization, with the driver (or passenger) being the focal point rather than the vehicle itself. In order to efficiently and cost effectively facilitate and secure this automotive paradigm shift on a software level, scalable hardware with programmable logic is critical.

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