The challenges of automotive ASIC design based on real stories


Article by: Inomize Ltd

Many vehicle electronics systems are built on an ASIC infrastructure, forcing both ASIC players and vehicle manufacturers to work together to deliver the solutions required for the market.

This month’s In Focus examines the latest developments, challenges, opportunities and strategies in the field of electric vehicles (EVs).


Inomize is a professional research and development company specializing in the design and manufacture of ASIC hardware and software solutions for OEM and ODM.

In recent years, the automotive industry has experienced a tremendous revolution, with more and more electronic systems being introduced in cars by all the major manufacturers.

Many of these systems are built on an ASIC infrastructure, where ASIC players and automakers must work together to deliver the solutions required for the market.

In such a field, we cannot rely on existing solutions. In many cases, it is necessary to develop the technology from scratch. In addition, in the case where standard IPs or modules are used, they must have a thorough knowledge of how to integrate them and ensure that all IPs are synchronized and conform to the requirements. The challenges and risks that such a development faces are enormous, and one would like to have an experienced team that has already been there and done it.

With a wealth of experience in various ASIC projects in the field of electric vehicles (EV), Inomize is well positioned to assist electric vehicle manufacturers, module manufacturers and ASIC companies (supplying the automotive industry) and meet the needs of needs of this growing market.

The unique advantage of Inomize is understanding the overall technical system requirements, target market and limitations, paving the way for the best-in-class ASIC solution.

Inomize CEO Udi Shaked said: “At any given moment, the company is working on more than five projects, where each of them could have been the basis of a startup in itself. The company and its engineers are at the cutting edge of technology in all possible areas.

The Inomize engineering team is fully aware of the different standards, protocols and concepts associated with the design of an SoC for the automotive market, such as:

  1. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
  2. ISO 26262 – Road vehicles – Functional safety standard
  3. Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL)
  4. In-car infotainment (IVI)
  5. Light imaging, detection and telemetry (LIDAR)
  6. Connected car
  7. Autonomous driving
  8. EV battery control and power management

Inomize: Expertise of the automotive market

EE Times Asia met with Inomize to get an overview of the company’s previous experience in projects involving automotive functional safety and what are the key takeaways from these projects.

Fusion of automotive sensors – This is a classic case where a huge idea started during a meeting in a cafe. In 2015, Inomize received a request from a Tier 1 company to develop a sensor fusion chip for a stand-alone driver chipset on a 16nm process node.

The chip interfaced multiple image sensors simultaneously and supported image processing, starting with standard ISP, distortion correction, and AI-based feature enhancement by multiple CNN (Convolutional Neural Network) hardware processors. ) dedicated.

Image streaming, formatting, and extraction are performed with an optimal shared memory subsystem based on multiple LPDDR4s and multi-channel last-level (LLC) cache (LLC) of multiple MB.

The quad-core processor handled all data flow and traffic. It also communicated with the host companion chip through various high speed interfaces.

A network on a chip (NoC) containing nearly 100 masters and slaves with a bus width of up to 512 bits provided the required infrastructure for the chip.

The challenges that Inomize faced were as follows:

  • Provide a floor planning oriented architecture by dividing the NoC and LLC with the multiple LPDDR4s at the four corners of the chip and achieve a fully scaled down solution with no cabling at the top.
  • Implementation of a mesh structure to reduce data interfaces between physically distant hardware parts.
  • Use multiple ISPs and distortion correction units as common shared hardware for all sensors and achieve high utilization of these machines for multiple types of sensors.
  • Application of functional safety (ASIL B level) by adding a hardware agent near each NoC master and slaves that add ECC for all data transfers on the NoC for data and address, as well as monitoring all transactions based on unique ID, timeout, and firewall.
  • Support for logical BIST for each CNN machine, on-demand memory BIST, parity for all configuration registers and ECC on each memory with address parity as well, all managed by one processor dedicated ASIL D security system.
  • Optimized fabric performance to provide continuous and optimal data flow.
  • Supporting serial flash secure boot mechanism, firewall-based crypto engine, ASIL D processor and LLC to bring secure software image to quad-core processor, all other data streams were blocked by hardware during the boot process.
  • Support wire tunnel as a hardware macro without real clock tree synthesis due to the size of the tunnels (narrow and long).
  • Support dual boot configuration for full and half performance (half memory, half CNN).

On-board networking ASIC – Another customer asked Inomize to design, design and register an ASIL B chip using the TSMC 28nm (Automotive Grade 2) process node. To reduce time to market, Inomize has integrated a previously designed ARM Cortex subsystem into this ASIC.

The Inomize team had organized FMEDA sessions and helped the customer maintain the FMEDA tables, identify failure modes and define failure detection mechanisms. As part of this process, Inomize used its knowledge of previous automotive projects.

Some of the IP addresses built into the chip had built-in security support, which needed to be investigated and built into the design. For other IPs, Inomize has built its own security solutions.

An example of a security solution adapted around an IP is a complex AHB matrix with a total of 20 masters and 20 slaves with parity checks on the transactions of the AHB matrix. Parity bits are transferred as user bits of the control (address), data write and read data channels.

The other security elements were:

  • The main security block manages all the security activities of the chip. For example, it has error counters for each indication and error injection mechanisms to verify that the safety indication logic is functional.
  • All SRAMs support ECC (SEC / DEC) with address parity and error injection.
  • LBIST of main IPs. The LBIST is inserted on the netlist with the insertion DFT.
  • The clock monitors to ensure that the clocks (PLLs and chip critical clock dividers) are at their correct frequency.
  • Secure clock generation. The need for an external crystal has been eliminated by implementing a proprietary internal oscillator.
  • Watchdog timers allow chip reset in various modes. Once started, watchdog timers cannot be accidentally disabled by software.
  • Temperature and voltage sensors to detect temperature and voltage conditions.
  • E-FUSE with multi-bit protection.
  • A dedicated safety pin to report faults to the system safety manager that has been defined by Inomize.
  • A functional safety assurance tool was used to verify the effectiveness of our fault detection mechanisms.
  • All synchronizers in the design have been checked not to create MTBF problem by selecting synchronizer FFs with special parameters for synchronizer reliability awareness during placement.
  • DFT at the automotive level: ATPG of 99% Stuck-At faults and 85% of transition faults, full MBIST, etc.

Analog LiDAR ASIC – A pioneering company in the development of analog LiDAR asked Inomize to design an ASIC integrating its laser object detection solution for ADAS and autonomous driving.

Inomize’s analog team, working with customer engineers, implemented the company’s next-generation LiDAR FMCW technology into an advanced ASIC solution that will enable superior vision capabilities for future vehicles.

The combined engineering teams have developed a single mixed-signal silicon chip that incorporates an array of state-of-the-art low-noise trans-impedance amplifiers with all of the supporting circuitry needed to shape and drive a large amount of data generated by the customer sensor.

Summary

This article has discussed several projects and examples of Inomize experts in the automotive market. Outside of this market, Inomize’s expertise extends to many other parameters not discussed in this short article. To learn more about how Inomize can help you achieve your design goal, please feel free to contact us at + 972-72-277-5400 or by email at [email protected]

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