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R-Car Virtual Platform accelerates next-generation in-vehicle software development

Issues facing the development of in-vehicle systems in the CASE era

When the automotive industry develops next-generation vehicles, in order to better respond to the new demands represented by CASE (*1), the development method of in-vehicle systems must be changed.

(*1) CASE : Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, Electric

In order to meet the needs of Internet connectivity and autonomous driving, strong communication, perception, cognition, judgment and control capabilities, as well as perfect functional safety and network safety performance are essential. As a result, systems, especially software, become increasingly large and complex. change. Therefore, not only the performance improvement of individual semiconductor devices and software, but also the development of overall system solutions is becoming more and more important.

The development of in-vehicle systems consists of three layers: vehicle development, ECU (*2) development, and semiconductor (SoC (*3)) development, and it is necessary to coordinate development between each layer. Moreover, due to the continuous improvement of system scale and complexity, the design of SoC technical requirements during vehicle/ECU development and the design of detailed technical parameters during SoC development have shown a long-term trend. In addition, in vehicle/ECU development, software development and system verification using SoC samples are also showing a long-term trend. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult to quickly apply the latest technologies to products. Also, once a problem discovered during system verification must be returned to the SoC design stage (a process known as rework) to find a solution, the risk of rework must also be considered.

(*2) ECU: Electronic Control Unit

(*3) SoC: System on a Chip

In order to solve the above problems, SoC suppliers are very much looking forward to shortening the SoC development time, thereby shortening the development cycle of the entire in-vehicle system.

Renesas developed and designed the R-Car Virtual Platform in response to rapid software development and left-shifting system verification.

  • Vehicle/ECU/SoC development can be carried out in parallel

  • Established an early verification scheme to avoid the risk of rework

We believe that the above measures will help shorten the development cycle.

Goals of the R-Car Virtual Platform (VPF)

By providing various virtual modules, Renesas aims to achieve the following goals.

1. SoC development and software development in parallel.

In the past, SoC samples were used for design and verification during software development, so SoC and software were developed serially. By using R-Car VPF, software design can be started before SoC development is completed, and this parallel development method can shorten the development cycle.

2. Effectively prevent rework through upstream system verification

In the past, system validation was performed most downstream in the development of the in-vehicle system, so rework to fix problems found was a frequent occurrence. By using the R-Car VPF development software, system verification can be moved before SoC development is complete, reducing the risk of rework. In the past, because the SoC and software were developed serially, the software development requirements could not be fully considered when designing the SoC, so there was a risk that the detailed technical parameters of the SoC could not be determined; and the software development had not been completed at the time of SoC verification, so there was an inability to The risk of using the target software for testing. By using R-Car VPF to simultaneously develop, design and verify SoC and software, it can effectively prevent missing requirements during the SoC design stage, and improve SoC quality by verifying use cases with actual software.

Overview of R-Car Virtual Platform (VPF)

R-Car VPF is a simulation environment for software design without samples. By simulating the functions of the R-Car using the register interface, software development can be performed as if it were using an actual product.

Intended use (intended effect)

  • Software design can be started before samples are available, and software can be migrated seamlessly after samples are used.

  • System validation of product and control software working together can be performed before samples are available.

  • After samples are available, they can also be used for software regression testing.

    Main features

  • R-Car VPF integrates CPU module, software can run in CPU module

  • Allows read/write access to storage spaces such as DRAM

  • The address mapping and calculation precision are exactly the same as the corresponding hardware products

  • IP modules can be added in sequence according to market demand

    The SoC module built into the R-Car VPF has the same structure as the product, runs software on the CPU, and controls various IPs through the bus model. The R-Car VPF is binary compatible with this hardware product, allowing seamless software development using the VPF and samples. The function of the IP module is controlled by the bus setting related registers, and also supports memory access and interrupt control.

    R-Car VPF supports the following functions, aiming to achieve the same experience as software development on SoC products.

  • Equipped with UART (*4) console.

  • Part of the communication interface is operable with resources connected to the actuator. That is, software development can be performed using the resources of the executor as an inverse model.

  • Source code can be debugged with various software debuggers

(*4) UART: Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter

Development status of R-Car Virtual Platform (VPF)

The third generation of the R-Car series of in-vehicle SoC products is in mass production. After 2021, we will use the R-Car VPF for new product development. In fact, we have used the R-Car VPF prototype for the development of the in-house software. In the past, although software development was carried out in parallel with hardware design, software testing could only be done after samples were completed. Now by using the R-Car VPF for software testing, the goal of delivering the product to customers as quickly as possible is achieved.

In the future, we will provide customers with the R-Car VPF platform to support rapid software development and system validation shift left.