Chipmaker AMD partners with ECARX on digital cockpit, in-vehicle computing platform for next-generation electric vehicles

Author: Eric Walz

Leading developers of computing devices and semiconductors, including Qualcomm Technologies Inc, NVIDIA, Intel Corp, and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc (AMD), continue to expand into the automotive space as modern vehicles become more like connected smartphones powered by software that can be updated via air.

This latest partnership is from Silicon Valley-based chip maker AMD and mobility tech startup ECARX, a company backed by the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the parent company of Volvo Cars.

AMD and ECARX will work together on the in-vehicle computing platform for the next generation of electric vehicles (EVs), expected to be mass-produced for a global rollout in late 2023.

ECARX was founded in 2017 by two pioneers in the automotive industry, Chairman and CEO Ziyu Shen and Eric Li (Li Shufu), who is also the founder and chairman of Geely, one of the world’s largest automobile groups. In addition to being the parent company of Swedish car company Volvo, Geely has an ownership interest in Lotus, Link & Co. and the electric brand Polestar.

ECARX develops technologies related to chips, smart cockpits, smart driving, high-definition maps, big data and the Internet of vehicles. The company’s core products include infotainment head units (IHU), digital cockpits, vehicle chipset solutions, core operating system and integrated software suite. ECARX is also developing an integrated automotive computing platform.

The ECARX Automotive Digital Cockpit will be the first in-vehicle platform to be offered with powerful AMD Ryzen Embedded V2000 processors and AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series GPUs paired with ECARX-developed hardware and software.

Over the past three years, ECARX technology has been incorporated into more than 3.2 million vehicles worldwide, according to the company.

AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V2000 Series processors are the second generation designed for in-car infotainment, dashboard and miniPC systems. Each V2000 series processor can run up to four independent displays simultaneously in 4K resolution. Each is equipped with up to eight CPU cores and seven GPU compute units.

According to AMD, the AMD Ryzen Embedded V2000 Series processor delivers up to 30% better CPU performance and 40% better graphics performance than the previous generation.

AMD hardware will provide immersive visual graphics and 3D rendering capabilities. AMD-powered ECARX digital cockpit will be launched with driver information mode, Head-Up Display (HUD), rear seat entertainment, multiple vehicle displays, multi-zone voice recognition, cutting-edge gaming, and a full 3D graphical user experience. These types of immersive 3D cockpits will be used in the next generation of software-based electric vehicles that support OTA updates.

“As auto companies strive to deliver immersive experiences and intelligent features for their next-generation electric vehicles, AMD’s ECARX digital cockpit will meet these needs for the global automotive market,” said Rajneesh Gaur, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Embedded. Business, AMD. “We are excited to work with ECARX as China’s first digital cockpit ecosystem strategic partner with Ryzen Embedded V2000 processors and Radeon RX 6000 Series GPUs.”

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For computer hardware and semiconductor manufacturers such as AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel, the evolving auto industry is creating new business opportunities.

Electric vehicle adoption is now a key growth driver for the automotive semiconductor market, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31% over the 2021-2026 period, according to Asif Anwar, CEO of PBCS and EVS at Strategy Analytics.

“The electric vehicle revolution is here, with the next generation of electric vehicle platforms at the forefront of field and area-based architecture driving adoption of digital cockpits, ADAS and the connected vehicle,” said Anwar.

AMD rival NVIDIA is also making headway in the auto industry with a major collaboration with Mercedes-Benz. In June 2020, Mercedes-Benz announced a partnership with NVIDIA that will give future customers the ability to add new software to their vehicles, and keep them updated with new features. Updates will include software that supports higher levels of automated driving.

Mercedes-Benz is developing an entirely new software architecture that supports over-the-air updates to its next-generation fleet using NVIDIA’s DRIVE AI platform. Software-based advanced vehicle engineering will be introduced starting with the 2024 model year, and eventually rolled out to the entire Mercedes-Benz fleet globally.

Working together, the two companies plan to develop one of the most advanced and advanced computing architectures ever deployed in the automotive industry.

ECARX also plans to launch an initial public offering later this year in the US. In May, the company announced its plans to go public through a proposed merger with San Francisco-based COVA Acquisition Corp (COVA). The deal is expected to close in the last quarter of this year. Upon completion of the business combination, ECARX shares will be traded on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “ECX”.

In February, AMD completed its previously announced acquisition of semiconductor company Xilinx Inc for $50 billion in an all-share deal. AMD’s acquisition of Xilinx will significantly expand the company’s portfolio of computing, graphics, and adaptive system-on-a-chip (SoC) products.

The acquisition increased AMD’s total addressable market from $80 billion to $135 billion, including the computing processing market and the automotive space.

Xilinx’s acquisition was originally valued at $35 billion, but AMD’s stock price appreciation drove the deal price up.

Victor Bing, former CEO of Xilinx, is president of AMD’s Adaptive and Embedded Computing Group.

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