We can, in unison and without debate, agree that consumers want In-vehicle Infotainment (IVI) solutions that integrate seamlessly with their cell phones, DVDs, CDs, etc. It is also undeniable that consumers want multi-purpose IVI solutions that allow for the driver to have one type of IVI experience—emphasizing information and safety-- while kids in the back seat enjoy pure entertainment. All of which are reasons why the IVI system option in an automobile is selling like beer in a college town.

 

Another, somewhat less self-evident truth is that increasingly consumers are calling for an IVI display function that will not add anything to the entertainment aspect of the unit but will contribute mightily to peace of mind, both for drivers and for parents: a rear view camera to prevent automotive backover incidents. According to the advocacy group Kids and Cars every week in the U.S. about 50 children are backed over by a vehicle; 48 are treated in emergency rooms and at least two children die. There are approximately 228 fatalities and 17,000 injuries annually in backover incidents, according to the group and In over 70 percent of these incidents, the person behind the wheel is a parent or close relative.

 

A backup camera system employing a small camera mounted on the rear of the car can help a driver with visibility problems, especially when driving in reverse; it can also help to see objects in a car’s naturally occurring blind spots. The resulting image is presented on an IVI display screen mounted on the dashboard or in a center console.

 

These hard to see areas have been at the root of much vehicular damage over the years, so much so that government agencies have been considering new rear visibility standards for light vehicles sold in the United States; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that backup cameras would save about 100 lives a year.

 

NHTSA has already said backup cameras will be included in its New Car Assessment Program, which means it will list all the car models that include backup cameras on a public web site and then begin listing those vehicles as having “recommended” safety technology.

 

One common necessity of all vehicular camera systems—which may also include infrared (IR) night-vision cameras that can detect pedestrians or animals in the road ahead that radar may not be able to identify-- is computing power for image processing and the capability to present a high-quality graphics display.


Enter the Intel® Atom™ processor E3800 product family with built-in Gen 7 Intel® Graphics Technology to enable the delivery of playback and 3D visual performance for interactive content. Graphics performance of the Intel Atom processor E3800 product family is based on Intel® HD Graphics 4000 technology and features support for HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.1 with maximum resolution of 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz and dual-display support. Hardware acceleration for video decoding is enabled for H.264, MVC, VPG8, JPEG/mJPEG, VC1/WMV9, and MPEG2 standards. The processor family is capable of decoding 10 or more streams of 1080p video, which can be simply implemented using the <video> tag in HTML5 in Microsoft Internet Explorer 10.

 

Advancements in visual processing capabilities enable faster media conversions, stereoscopic 3D and enhanced HD video transcoding. For example, the processor features an image and signal processor (ISP) that supports multiple image processing functions. The ISP is connected to multiple MIPI-CSI interfaces, allowing up to two 1080p cameras plus one 720p camera, depending on the raw image color format.

 

A fundamental requirement for IVI devices is that a user must see the rear camera video in the IVI system screen immediately after putting the vehicle in reverse gear. As a result, very fast boot speeds are needed to display the rear camera output. In January Intel engineers published a white paper (“Early Camera Presentation on Intel® Atom™ Processor E38xx Series" by Bruce Liao et al.) describing  a method to minimize the time of every boot stage to meet these requirements (see Fig. 1 below). The new method includes steps for optimizing the boot loader, fine-tuning the kernel and camera drivers, and optimizing the Tizen user space.


Fig1camera.png

Fig 1 block diagram for a proposed fast boot camera.

 

The goal of the project is to decrease the boot time for the Intel Atom processor E38xx product family so that the rear camera is available to the driver as soon as the car is switched into reverse gear regardless of the current state of the IVI box. In general, the authors report, this process should occur in less than two seconds. This means that, even in the worst case scenario in which the box is powered off, it should still boot to the operating system (OS) and bring up the camera within a very short time.

 

 

The solution presented employs the Intel® Atom™ processor E38xx product family as well as the hardware and software components listed below:

• Intel® Atom™ processor E38xx product family customer reference board

• TW6865/69 PCIe camera

Intel® Embedded Media and Graphics Driver (Intel® EMGD)

• Reference Boot Loader from Intel

 

The BIOS image released from Intel usually is a UEFI BIOS for the Intel Atom processor E38xx product family. This BIOS image takes 5-10 seconds to start the OS loader, depending on the boot device. The authors note that as a full-featured boot loader, UEFI BIOS is not the best candidate to implement the early camera feature, which requires minimal boot time. Instead, they propose using the Reference Boot Loader from Intel or other lightweight boot loaders for the boot speed improvement. The Reference Boot Loader from Intel saves the memory parameters in the flash after the first boot, and it no longer needs to train the memory modules in future boots.

 

The proposed implementation involves the use of a lightweight boot loader, Linux kernel optimization, and early camera module optimization along with Tizen user space fine-tuning. With this implementation, the early camera can be displayed at around 1.4 seconds after the power button is pressed, and the Tizen UI can be displayed in 2.9 seconds. For their next step, the authors plan to port the implementation to the IVI dedicated development kit, which is also based on the Intel Atom processor E38xx product family.

 

Safety is not the only reason for employing cameras in a vehicle.  In the 2013 American Le Mans Racing series the Corvette C6.R race car competing in the GT class featured an innovative rear-view camera system that contributed to the success of drivers Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin, and Richard Westbrook. The system relayed to the driver the distance of approaching vehicles, even in the blind spots. And it worked in the rain, and in the dark.

 

The Corvette race car’s system runs on a custom Linux platform with an Intel® Core™ i3 processor CPU and uses a rear-facing radar sensor that is capable of tracking up to 32 objects while working in tandem with the camera. Different colors and symbols are displayed on the rearview screen, which allows the driver to easily see race cars that are behind, how close they are, their closing speeds, and even the approaching vehicle’s racing class.

 

For instance, a green marker on screen means the car behind the Corvette C6.R is falling back, while yellow means it’s moving at the same rate of speed; a red marker indicates that the car is closing the gap and about to pass, with a blinking arrow indicating on which side the C6.R will be passed. To differentiate racing classes, an extra line in the marker indicates when the computer believes the encroaching vehicle to be of a faster class.

 

The Intel Atom processor E38xx has been widely adopted on various Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance partner products capable of supporting the video processing needs of IVI displays with and without camera input. Many of these operate across a wide range of temperatures-- a must for vehicles driven in all types of weather.

 

Here are just two for instances of low-power components on small factor boards that can fit into slim enclosures:

 

The new Kontron COMe-mBT10 COM Express® mini Computer-on-Module family (55 mm x 84 mm) is equipped with Intel Atom processor E3800 or Intel® Celeron® processors. The processor offers three times higher graphics performance compared to previous Intel Atom processor parts and supports DirectX 11, Open GL 3.1, and OpenCL 1.1 as well as support for two independent displays with 1x DP++ (DP/HDMI/DVI) up to 2560x1600@60Hz and 1x Single Channel LVDS 18/24bit with DP to LVDS up to 1900 x 1200.

 

Fig2camera.png

Fig .2 Kontron COMe-mBT10

 

These features in combination with the low-power credit card-sized footprint make the new COM Express® mini Computer-on-Modules a good fit for an extremely wide range of new, graphic-rich multi-touch applications.  Seven module variants are included in the range, offering wide scalability from low-power single-core Intel Atom processor (1.46 GHz / 5 W TDP) performance for energy-sensitive applications through to quad -core Intel Atom processor (4x 1.91 GHz/ 10 W TDP) and Intel Celeron processor (4x 2.42 GHz / 10 W TDP)  performance in high-end applications.

 

ADL Embedded Solutions has announced its ADLE3800HD PCI Express 3.5-Inch Single Board compact SBC based on Intel Atom processor E3800, featuring multiple GbE, SATA, and display ports, PCIe expansion, and extended temperature operation. The ADLE3800HD graphics engine is capable of decoding 10 or more streams of 1080p video, has integrated hardware acceleration for video decode of H.264, MVC, VPG8, VC1/WMV9 and others standards. It also supports DirectX 11, Open GL 4.0, full HD video playback, and a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz with dual-display support. The ADLE3800HD touts a wide thermal junction temperature of -40C to +85C.

 

 

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Murray Slovick

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance