Centralizing Compute: How Far Can It Go?

Christian Schaefer
Vice President,
Advanced Vehicle
Rainer Denkelmann
Director, Vehicle E/E

As consumers demand an increasing number of intelligent features in today’s vehicles, the approach of creating a dedicated electronic control unit for each feature is clearly unsustainable. It results in too much complexity and cost, uses too much power, adds too much weight and, most importantly, takes up too much physical space.

As a result, OEMs are up-integrating software-defined features into centralized compute wherever possible — which begs the question: How far could up-integration go, realistically? If we extrapolate this trend, will we ever see a vehicle with all compute functions handled within a single box?

While up-integration will continue, there are at least six key considerations that limit consolidation after a certain point. Vehicle designers must optimize their architectures so that they take these issues into account while maximizing the benefits of reducing the number of boxes required.

The optimal amount of up-integration will be different for every vehicle model. OEMs have different goals in terms of active safety capabilities, comfort and convenience functions, overall vehicle design and consumer price targets. As a result, every vehicle’s electrical/electronic architecture faces unique challenges related to packaging, power management, cost and other factors. Put another way, “optimization” will mean something different for every OEM and every platform.

Across all capability levels, however — from base models to premium options — designers must weigh certain common criteria when it comes to up-integrating functions into centralized compute.

For details on those criteria, read our white paper.

Read White Paper

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