We’re always hearing about shift-left, advances enabling system designers to start various aspects of their development and validation earlier. In support of this goal for automotive developers, Arm recently announced their Scalable Open Architecture for Embedded Edge (SOAFEE). SOAFEE is a software platform (with reference hardware) designed to enable shift left through cloud-native software development in the new and evolving automotive world. Supporting the likes of Volkswagen who have a publicly stated goal to develop 60% of their software in-house by 2025.
It’s no secret that automotive OEMs and others are exploring new ways to deliver and monetize mobility, as EV opportunities expand, dealership models are in question, Mobility as a Service is a hot topic and ADAS/autonomy continues to advance. Cloud service providers and others also see opportunities to claim a part of the action, seeing a move away from traditional supply chains to more collaborative development and support. Several invited Arm to drive an open architecture standard to rationalize a foundation for this software development. The standard, represented by a SIG, now includes AWS, Continental, Cariad (a VW Group company), Woven Planet (a subsidiary of Toyota), RedHat and GreenHills among others.
Why do I say Arm has shifted up to this objective? Because they are doing something they have always done well (now stretching further), which I’m now starting to see among a handful of other tech companies. Shifting up from a space in which they’ve proven themselves, to bridge a gap to the system-level needs of their ultimate system customers.
The SOAFEE Framework
SOAFEE is about enabling the software defined future of automotive. Enabling functions and capabilities through software control. Abstracting the underlying hardware to ensure portability, while preserving awareness of hardware capabilities and constraints. Putting this in place in the cloud enables OEMs to start development sooner. With that cloud-native starting point they can easily update and manage software throughout the product life cycle. Experienced cloud-based developers and app builders will also be able to contribute. All can leverage cloud-based development and deployment techniques.
Cloud-based developers still need to model realistic real-time and power behaviors. To that end, Arm has partnered with ADLINK to provide two hardware reference platforms. A 32-core Ampere Altra SoC for lab development/prototyping. And an 80-core Ampere Altra SoC in a ruggedized box for in-vehicle testing. (This box also hosts an on-board ASIL-D safety MCU.)
The software stack mirrors between the in-vehicle platform and the cloud platform. To ensure that what you develop early in the cloud should just drop into the vehicle. The same should be true for updates. Hardware and software stacks are built on top of Project Cassini (another open standard from Arm). Two major components here of interest to hardware developers are the SystemReady standard, covering a range of system compliance topics, most notably in-system PCIe compliance. And PSA-certified, covering security requirements.
The SOAFEE reference software stack is already available. The reference hardware is available for pre-order now from ADLINK.
I’m impressed. In a diverse ecosystem like the one already growing around evolving automotive needs, someone needed to step up. To ensure a common based reference for all those potential developers. Arm not only stepped up but also shifted up. To build that bridge from their world to the world in which auto solution builders want to work. You can read the press release HERE.