SOA: The Game Changer in Automotive SW DevelopmentMay 31, 2022
Customer Tech. Solution Manager
While today’s cars are still made of steel, rubber, glass, plastic, and other materials just like their counterparts from the past, today’s software is truly the star of the show. There are three key players (among the hundreds of people involved in creating a vehicle) involved in the design and development of the software-defined vehicle - the Software Architect, the Software Developer, and the App Developer.
The SW architect designs the overall architecture of the vehicle, laying out the structure of the different hardware and software components and systems that the vehicle will require in order to run properly. This architecture is provided to the SW developers who generally work for an OEM or Tier 1 supplier and build the car’s operational software. Finally, the app developers are hard at work creating all of the applications that a driver might want or need as well as background apps for vehicle functionality. As cars become more like smartphones, drivers will expect an “app store” where they can simply download and run the desired app.
To truly maximize the SW-defined vehicle, the SW architects and app developers need flexibility and platforms that can be upgraded wirelessly anywhere in the world. However, with the current development cycle, they face many significant challenges.
SW Architects Need Flexibility and Visibility
Currently, vehicle design couples the software to the hardware, preventing desired flexibility to make changes post-production as new needs are uncovered. SW architects have to design the E/E architecture based almost entirely on the current (or near future) needs with a clear view as to how each piece of software will interact with the hardware. This means that any future upgrades in response to emerging needs would have to go through a long and complicated testing and integration process, resulting in a very long time to market.
The vehicles of the future are all about agility, quick adaptation, and adding new features and apps almost instantly based on customer demands and requests. SOA can provide SW architects with the flexibility and visibility needed to respond quickly and release updates and/or new products to market much more efficiently.
SW Developers are Shackled by Rigid Limitations
The software developers face similar challenges to the architects in that they are also limited by the monolithic software code and coupled functionality: there is little to no opportunity for creating synergy and integrating SWCs, apps, and services. Resources are wasted and the development process is tedious with the integration of each new component requiring lengthy and complex testing.
In order to create programs that align with the new definition of automotive software development, developers need to remove their shackles and embrace the freedom and flexibility to develop and test products independently of other applications and hardware. A more streamlined process would result in a faster time to market and the ability to respond to changing market demands quickly.
Unlocking Creativity for App Developers
The sky's the limit when it comes to new apps that can be developed and integrated into cars to enhance the driving experience. But the current reality means y production lines need to have many software versions for different car models and most post-production changes need to be made in person at certified locations - a hassle for the car owner.
App developers face the same creativity-blocking challenges as their software architect and developer colleagues and must develop apps that fit into highly-specific frames that cannot be easily adapted or upgraded.
If, however, the software was fully decoupled from the hardware, app developers could create any software to be provided through a secure app store. They could unleash their creativity and create an unending number of innovative solutions that drivers could install with the click of a button. If vehicles were able to receive updates automatically over the air securely, OEMs and aftermarket providers would benefit greatly from new revenue streams and drivers would benefit from an enhanced driving experience.
How Does Hardware Play into the Story?
The move to zonal architecture solves many of the challenges described above for the stakeholders involved in developing vehicle software. At the same time, however, the consolidation of hardware inherent in this new architecture does create challenges of its own. Next-gen, or zonal, architecture requires data to pass through several hops, resulting in end-to-end latencies that add up and can exceed the system’s limits leading to low throughput.
This means that in addition to decoupling hardware from software, it is also necessary to ensure that the hardware infrastructure will be able to support the ever-advancing and changing software needs.
Fortunately, with the F.A.S.T.E.R. CommEngine communication routing accelerator, GuardKnox has a solution for this challenge as well.
Adjusting to the Changing Automotive Landscape
It has been an ongoing challenge for the automotive industry to keep up with the fast-growing changing demands of today’s drivers. With the right support, automakers can harness the full power of a software-defined vehicle. GuardKnox’s Secure SOA Framework provides architects and developers with the flexibility needed to create the software components that will power the cars of the future. They can do this with a shorter time to market while providing OEMs with new revenue streams - a true win-win for all involved.