Automotive entertainment has been on a steady path of improvement ever since the invention of the car radio. Originally the automotive radio was a monaural AM receiver. This was a significant advance over stationary radios that employed dry cell batteries. Like current entertainment systems, the early radio made advances through improvement in other automotive systems.  


Through the late 1980s many US automotive manufacturers divided in-cabin controls across dash functions and entertainment/climate control. At the same time there were several competing busses proposed to interconnect electronic components.




The Infortainment package from Green Hills Software (1) supports Intel® architecture processors and  includes:


  • MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport)—MOST was created to support low cost, low power, flexible, reliable, and high speed multimedia peer-to-peer networking. MOST replaces the wiring harnesses used in old school automotive  multimedia systems – saving money, reducing weight, and giving engineers greater flexibility in body and structural design.
  • CAN (Controller Area Network)— Supports CAN-based protocols and standardized protocols such as DeviceNet and CANOpen.
  • Audio—The INTEGRITY Sound Architecture supports audio codecs used in infotainment systems, including PCM, control, and mixing devices.
  • Graphics and Video—Integrity supports the Portable Embedded GUI (PEG) and OpenGL and highly tuned graphics accelerator drivers for next generation displays.
  • Java—Java Virtual Machines run securely in their own virtual address spaces on top of INTEGRITY. JAVA expands implementation alternatives for designers.
  • Networking—Green Hills provides communication protocols including IPv4/IPv6, Embedded Web Server, IPSec, Bluetooth, USB and SSH/SSL.
  • File systems—The virtual file system (VFS) framework, simplifies adding and removing support for various file systems. The VFS server provides file system support for UNIX-like file systems, DOS/FAT 12/16/32, ISO 9660, Wear Leveling Flash File Systems, Partitioning Journaling File Systems, and others.
  • Speech Recognition—Support for  industry leading providers enable rapid programming and scalable deployment.
  • Echo & Noise Suppression—Background noise represents a challenge for voice-based applications. Green Hills provides a toolkit approach to this problem.
  • In-Car Navigation—In-Car navigation systems are becoming a necessity. Supporting driver assistance information and navigation-only facilities are two of the driving reasons for this capability.


    QNX Software Systems (2) also provides a wide variety of automotive-specific capabilities in QNX CAR.




    QNX CAR serves more than 200 vehicle models with infotainment and telematics systems. Brands such as Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Infiniti, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen use QNX® technology as the software foundation for their digital instrument clusters, handsfree systems, multimedia head units, connectivity modules, 3D navigation systems, or rear-seat entertainment products. The CAR platform runs on the Intel® Atom processor.


    QNX CAR is one of the new ways offered to develop software for infotainment. For years software development started with requirements specifications and progressed through design, implementation, testing and delivery. Under the CAR approach, the software development stages remain, but the nature of development changes. Instead of designing all of the details of how an application does each function, designers select from among functions supplied by 90 partner companies. The job of systems implementation becomes largely one of matching Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and implementing customization features such as specialized displays and product differentiation geatures.


    Wind River Software (3) is a driving force behind an industry consortium developing open source software to provide a standardized application platform for automotive infotainment. Named GENIVI, the industry consortium is developing a reusable, open source IVI platform. Founding members of GENIVI included BMW Group, Wind River, Intel, GM, PSA, Delphi, Magneti-Marelli, and Visteon.




    GENIVI has embraced open standards and software. Previous automotive infotainment platforms have been based on proprietary Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS) as the fundamental underpinning. GENIVI takes a different path towards automotive infotainment systems. Automotive manufacturers and software suppliers to the auto makers are taking a page from other industries like mobile telecom. If GENIVI organizers are right, automotive entertainment electronics will follow the same trend as other previously proprietary platforms. Using Linux, members of the consortium have embraced open source, with the belief that the automotive infotainment ecosystem will flourish. Having just completed its first year, GENIVI members are creating the ecosystem by building a reference implementation based on Linux. The group aims to keep the collaboration focused on middleare and lower level functions, avoiding the value-added higher level functions. This is in direct contrast to the proprietary platforms that seek to offer a complete ecosystem including higher functions.

    Regardless of the infotainment platform chosen for creating your next automotive-based products, the key will be support for commonly available consumer audio, video, and information products. In a very real sense, the sky’s the limit for functions of automotive infotainment systems. In order to meet these seemingly impossible demands for interoperability, the platform must include formalized mechanized to permit incorporation of new consumer products into the system easily.


    Developing automotive infotainment systems requires not only the usual embedded systems skills, but also full understanding of APIs for popular consumer electronics products.




    Using the Intel-based GENIVI platform, extended functionality is achieved through an add-on PCIe device. The hardware configuration, and hence the software definitions, will vary depending on the automotive manufacturer and the model of vehicle. GENIVI’s model embraces extending functionality through attached daughter card modules. GENIVI abstracts functionality into five layers, each of which carries its own API. The hardware layer is the lowest level containing the CPU, memory, storage, CAN, MOST, and other hardware-focused functions. The next higher level contains the OS(es)while the third layer is a traditional “middleware” layer providing non-differentiated functions such as platform management, connectivity, power management, systems infrastructure and other similar functions. Conceptually, the middleware functions are similar regardless of the platform chosen. But GENIVI seeks to maintain a non-competitive partitioning of the software, which generally means that cooperative work stops before the Application Layer.


    Developing infotainment applications are undergoing a major shift in implementation approach. Each of the infotainment platforms has its own specific APIs to be used. Some of the APIs are common regardless of the platform. Others are custom to specialized hardware. Major portions of infotainment systems are developed by assembling building blocks via APIs.


    How will this shift in implementation affect the wat you do development?



    (1) Green Hills Software is an Affiliate Member of the Intel Embedded Allaince

    (2) QNX Software Systems is an Associate Member of the Intel Embedded Alliance

    (3) Wind River Systems is an Associate Member of the Intel Embedded Alliance



    Henry Davis
    Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor)
    Intel(r) Embedded Alliance