Renesas Electronics adds R-Car D3 SoC for 3D graphics instrument cluster

Renesas Electronics has added the R-Car D3 automotive infotainment system SoC to its automotive portfolio. It is designed to expand the use of 3D graphics instrument clusters (3D clusters) that support 3D graphics displays in entry-level class cars. The R-Car D3 achieves both high-performance graphic capabilities but also contributes to significant reduction in overall system development cost, says Renesas. 

The SoC includes a high-performance 3D graphics core that enables a high-quality 3D display at a bill of materials (BOM) costs equivalent to developing with 2D graphics instrument clusters (2D clusters), claims Renesas.

By adopting the R-Car D3, system developers can re-use their 3D graphics development assets, including software and graphics designs from high-end vehicles that adopt high-performance R-Car H3 or R-Car M3 SoCs to entry-level cars. This scalability enables high visibility entry cluster 3D graphics to be developed at approximately the same level cost as the existing 2D clusters.   

“For instrument clusters based on large-scale LCD displays, the market is expected to grow rapidly in the future, and it would be a great benefit to the customer to be able to implement such instrument clusters at a low BoM cost,” said Rock Yang, vice president at Thundersoft, which provides software system integration and the Kanzi HMI tool for the R-Car range, including the R-Car D3. 

“For more than a decade, automotive OEMs and Tier 1s have relied on BlackBerry QNX to deliver world-class software solutions for infotainment, telematics, and instrument cluster systems,” said Grant Courville, senior director of product management at BlackBerry QNX. “The combination of the new R-Car D3 SoC and BlackBerry’s ISO 26262 ASIL B-certified QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters will enable our customers to confidently deliver state-of-the-art, safety-certified digital clusters rapidly to the market.”

“Our support for the R-Car D3 builds on years of successful partnership with Renesas and their other R-Car devices, providing the customer with certified automotive safety, time-savings development tools, and optional virtualization for Linux” said Matt Slager, director of Asia-Pacific Business Development at Green Hills Software. “We see this third-generation R-Car D3 as a valuable addition to the R-Car Family of SoCs, enabling customers to easily migrate and reuse existing R-Car and INTEGRITY software assets for faster time to market for their next-generation integrated cockpit designs.”

The increasing number of connections between the instrument cluster and the various sensors and control devices allows more information about the vehicle and its surroundings to be captured and displayed on the instrument cluster. However, this increases the need for improved visibility from a safety point of view.

For autonomous driving, the instrument cluster needs to instantly, accurately, and safely report a wide variety of information to the driver. “The Renesas R-Car D3 … is expected to revolutionize the 3D cluster user experience,” said Lynwood Stanley, vice president of Global Engineering Services at Altia. “Altia is using DeepScreen code generator, which optimizes the HMI code, for the Renesas R-Car with the goal to deliver the highest-performance embedded HMIs to the market.”

At present, entry-class vehicles feature mostly seven- to 10-inch liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that support mainly 2D graphics. Advances in automotive LCDs size, resolution, and prices will support demand for 3D clusters to meet the growing need for clearer and highly visible designs on a large screen, particularly in the Chinese market, predicts Renesas.

In the meantime, system developers working with automotive instrument clusters must manage an increasing number of development steps and costs, as 3D clusters for entry-class cars are required to meet both the strict cost and high-performance as existing 2D clusters but with 3D graphics drawing requirements.

The R-Car D3 SoC includes a 3D graphics core from Imagination Technologies. The Power VR Series 8XE, enables the R-Car D3 to achieve approximately six times improved drawing performance compared to the existing 3D graphics R-Car D1 SoC. This allows system developers to reuse content created for high-end cars in entry class cars. Now, system designers who had previously been concerned about hardware graphics performance limitations, can create graphics content without concern or limitations.

The R-Car D3 adopts the ball grid array (BGA) package, which simplifies the use of PCBs. This allows system developers to create 3D clusters using low-cost, four-layer PCBs, reducing the system BoM costs. The Renesas R-Car D3 reference boards, also use four-layer PCBs, and Renesas provides the design data as reference data for system developers to simplify the design of their own systems.

According to Renesas’ own research, the R-Car D3 SoC achieves industry-leading levels of low power consumption. Developers can therefore configure a power supply circuit using a relatively inexpensive discrete power supply regulator. Since a cluster system can be configured with one DDR SDRAM, it is possible to reduce BoM cost by approximately 40 per cent compared with 3D cluster systems that include the existing R-Car D1, realizing the total system development cost equivalent to the existing 2D cluster. The automatic memory calibration function of the DDR SDRAM, which is standard in R-Car SoCs, eliminates the need for timing adjustment of data transfer with the SRAM and memory evaluation man-hours requirements.

Renesas works with several operating system manufacturers, HMI manufacturers, and system integrators in the instrument cluster field. System developers can work with more than 200 Renesas R-Car Consortium partner companies to further reduce the number of development steps and cost for 3D graphics.

The R-Car D3 uses open GL ES 3.1 for 3D graphics drawing, which enables scalability with third-generation R-Car devices. The same 2D graphics core is used as the RH850/D1M microcontroller (MCU) for 2D graphics applications. Users will be able to reuse all software assets and design content assets development from applications ranging from 2D clusters to high-end 3D clusters.

The R-Car D3 supports the ISO 26262 (ASIL-B) automotive functional safety standard, and provides a functional safety support program for implementing safe driving support systems, contributing to the realization of a safe driving experience.

Samples of the R-Car D3 are available now. Mass production is scheduled to begin in September 2019.


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